Opportunities and Drawbacks of WebRTC

By: Marco
September 25, 2014

We’ve been seeing technologies increasingly converge. Take your mobile phone. Today, it does more than make phone calls. You can check email, chat via video, browse the Internet, get directions to a destination, take pictures or videos and listen to music – and the list goes on. It is your computer, radio, camera and phone all in one.

That same movement could soon change how we communicate over the Internet. It’s due to what’s being called WebRTC. That stands for Web Real-Time Communication. It’s a new set of API’s (short for Application Programming Interface) that load in a browser that could provide all unified communications over the Internet - for free.

What is it?

With WebRTC, you could conduct real-time, peer-to-peer voice and video communications through a web browser without any plugins. Essentially, it means you can communicate over video or simply by voice with just opening a web page.

WebRTC is still in the conceptual stage. How it will work and play in the marketplace remains to be seen. The claims are big. The impact could be another game changer. It’s certain to disrupt technology and communications as we know it today.

Besides eliminating the need to download plugins, WebRTC could enable click-to-call capabilities for customers and facilitate internal web meetings.

So, what are the drawbacks?

  • Quality of Service: Because the Internet is public domain (no one owns it), quality of service cannot be guaranteed. That can be troublesome for a school, business or another entity that relies on their communication system – moment to moment.

  • Lack of Privacy: The Internet is public. So naturally the conversations could be public, too. It’s unclear how WebRTC will manage security and privacy. If past behavior is the best predictor of the future, it could lack encryption and security features that organizations demand today. It is recommended that leaders thoroughly evaluate the settings before proceeding to ensure their information sensitive conversations remain private.

  • Integration Inhibitors: Like the cloud, it’s not a magic bullet that will solve all the problems of organizations. Integration will be a challenge and likely a barrier for adoption for many organizations.  It’s currently not supported on Microsoft’s Internet browser IE.

Unified communications within organizations can be quite complex – and that does not change with WebRTC. The concept sounds simple, but it more than likely will increase the complexity.

The WebRTC initiative is supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera and an early version of WebRTC API is now available through each of those browsers. You can download versions at WebRTC.org, a site maintained by the Google Chrome team.

Topics: Business IT Services