WebRTC was one of the big stories at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few weeks back. We’ve been on top of this trend for a while, pushing the service and revenue possibilities for operators.
Mozilla – along with AT&T and Ericsson – made the biggest WebRTC splash with their proof-of-concept demonstration linking a Firefox browser with a user’s mobile contacts list and the underlying IMS network, with its find and connect functionality, allowing for direct calls to mobile phones from the browser.
Integrating the phone number is an especially nice touch, as it could solidify the number as the universal identifier of choice amidst a scattered OTT landscape of confusing and multiple sign-ins.
Analyst Dean Bubley writes that WebRTC is “one of the most exciting and pivotal technologies” he’s seen in a decade. He also says WebRTC has the potential to benefit most players in communications business, including operators:
“The breadth of companies involved – including Google, Ericsson, Cisco, Telefonica and AT&T – spans both traditional telecoms, enterprise communications and the web. We will see web access added by telcos, for example for IMS access from the browser. And we will also see realtime voice and video communications added by to the web inside social networks, or allowing informal “call centre” functions on normal websites.”
As hot as WebRTC and HTML5 – which WebRTC builds on – are now, we see the real revolution coming when it truly goes mobile. As a tool to encourage developers and highlight the possibilities of WebRTC, Ericsson released the first WebRTC-enabled mobile browser last year. And it looks like mobile WebRTC-enabled applications will disrupt OTT players (and native app builders) far more than they will disrupt established operators.
After all, who needs a standalone messaging or VoIP app when you can just make a call to anybody through the browser? Of course, this means challenges for operators too, and they can use this opportunity for collaboration and competition to leverage in communication services.