Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The missing signaling layer in WebRTC is both an advantage and a limitation

Could WebRTC be the best thing since sliced bread? It’s being hailed as a revolutionary technology, and the future of communications. And here at the Voice on Telecom, we’ve certainly been talking about it and its many possibilities since last year and as recently as this March

But while WebRTC opens up VoIP and video capabilities to millions of developers, it has created wild expectations that it will be a game changer.  This may turn out to be true in the future, but for now, WebRTC is only one part of a successful communication service.

So what’s missing then?

We all know that WebRTC enables web browsers to use the camera and microphone to allow peer-to-peer voice and video calls without the use of plugins – this is the media layer.  But to actually make this work, you need to locate someone and make the call, or “find and connect” and this involves a signalling layer.
WebRTC standards cover the media layer but, as Google drove the development of WebRTC, it intentionally disregarded the signaling layer.

This absence of standards allows developers to use WebRTC in any real time communication settings, regardless of the “find and connect” solution and protocol. This can be an advantage but also a limitation, since without “find and connect” there can be no communication between parties, and the choice of signalling protocols can directly impact the success or failure of your service.

So this missing signaling layer is key.

By Christer Boberg and Thea Sommerdyk for The Voice on Telecom

1 comment:

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