WebRTC is based on work in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to develop a standard, interoperable approach to real-time communication (RTC) using audio and video in web browsers without the need for any plug-ins. It reportedly has the potential to make setting up a telephone service no more difficult than setting up a blog.
Kristofer Dovstam, master researcher at Ericsson Research, said: "We believe WebRTC is a very important part of future communication solutions in our industry, and we are excited to provide developers with [Bowser] the first version of our experimental WebRTC-enabled browser."
Bowser is available as a free download from several mobile application stores. It is a continuation of the first WebRTC browser for desktops that Ericsson launched in May 2011 (which can be downloaded from an Ericsson Research web site).
There is a view that WebRTC will seriously undermine efforts by mobile operators to move voice to IP through the use of VoLTE (voice over LTE) and the Rich Communications Suite. However according to Amdocs' Tsahi Levent-Levi, reporting on the Amdocs blog on a recent WebRTC conference in Paris, there is room for both technologies.
Summing up the opposing viewpoints aired at the conference Levent-Levi said: "The carriers generally see themselves as at the centre of communications and believe that while it's crucial to innovate, any innovations in communications have to connect to what they are doing today, which is collectively working on IP-based solutions to replace all circuit-switched communications...
"On the other hand, the Web denizens see things in a totally different light...They believe [WebRTC] will kill the app store model enforced on us by Apple and OTT vendor-walled gardens and also cut out the carriers."
Levent-Levi quoted Deutsche Telekom's Wolfgang Beck telling the conference that, with WebRTC, "setting up a telephony service will be little harder than setting up a blog."
Nevertheless, Levent-Levi concluded: "Those who are championing WebRTC are forgetting the bigger picture: there's room for everything." He suggested that even if consumers can build their own communications services using WebRTC there will be scope for carriers "merging WebRTC into the carrier's PSTN and IMS worlds for others...providing authentication services to supplement WebRTC, improving quality of service for WebRTC, selling infrastructure-related services..."
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