WebRTC Global Summit: The Summary Version

Consider this my trip report for WebRTC Global Summit. It is written in sections to make it easier to glance over and get to whatever you see fit.

Executive Summary

  • Me at a WebRTC workshopThe event was good. The right people were there, but it focused a lot more on the technology and the architecture and not enough on what to do with it – the use cases
  • The Telecom industry sees WebRTC as a challenge and not an opportunity. It is a matter of mindset and not a technology barrier
  • Most complaints were around IE and Safari support of WebRTC, along with the difference in behavior between Chrome and Firefox and in-between browser versions
  • The Telco network vendors were missing: Ericsson, ALU and Huawei didn’t have booths or participate actively in the conference. Having seen them all in all previous WebRTC related events – this seemed a bit strange. Especially when both Amdocs and Oracle (the OSS/BSS players) were there with booths
  • Some of the attendees in the conference never saw WebRTC in action. Many of the attendees in the conference never used it for real conversation – just saw what it does and moved along. How can we expect these people to plan what a Telco needs to do with WebRTC?

Demos

The companies that decided to demo and showcase their services came better prepared than those in previous demo sessions other conferences I attended. I actually enjoyed myself throughout the demos. They were quick, to the point and easy to understand.

The two runners up were Apidaze and Quobis. The winner was Viblast.

  • I like Apidaze because they did a demo that showed exactly what their Widget4all offers – on a website, in a social network and embedded into an ad on a video site. Well done
  • Quobis, who essentially do customization and system integration (my interpretation) work around WebRTC for Telcos, showed a demo that integrates a mobile number with a gmail identity. It showed immediate value for a Telco if you ask me
  • Viblast does peer assisted video delivery. Their demo was just sleek and easy, and incorporated a mobile SDK as well

I just wish all future demo sessions would be this effective.

Sessions

This time, I think I won’t be providing a review of each and every session. Instead, I’ll try just jotting down the main things that caught my attention.

  • In some sessions, the speakers stated how surprised they were from the quality of VP8. They expected H.264 to be superior to it…
  • Service providers that have already tested the waters (Bouygues and Telecom Italia comes to mind), had a good list of issues and challenges. They had the scars to show for their efforts. Enrico (Telecom Italia) even stated that they know what they are looking for, but that none of the vendors are able to provide it yet
  • Service providers were usually in waiting mode at the conference, preferring to see how things play out or just waiting for all of the current barriers get solved before they commit to WebRTC (IE and Safari anyone?). This misses the point I think. A Telco will take a couple of years to get a service running, while WebRTC progresses far faster than that
  • Douglas from Oracle had a good metaphor of a bridge – where Telecom and the Internet are supposed to meet somehow and come to terms. I can say that these two camps speak two different languages, and I think it is essential for Telecom to know how to speak Internet and not vice versa
  • Telecom Italia started playing with WebRTC on a gender detection app, which has nothing to do with IMS or other telecom assets. Only later it started looking at telecom related use cases. I think that’s a smart thing to do
  • Enrico (Telecom Italia) also stated that the challenges they expected were different than the actual problems they ended up with. Again – to do anything seriously with WebRTC requires dirtying your hands
  • A lot of discussions about signaling. Some were in favor of SIP and IMS. Others couldn’t understand why anyone would want to use it when it can be avoided. Some didn’t care which
  • There was a mistaken notion that “advanced telephony” features are necessary and are hard to do in WebRTC. Some questioned the idea of copying that model over to the web
  • Manuel from Telefonica gave an overview of the history and future of the telephony paradigm; stressing the point that the networks and architectures of the past is what we are trying to use for our current needs
  • There was still too much talk about IMS for my taste. I even saw RCS on one of the slides. Talking about relying on the past…
  • Federico from Italtel used a great phrase – “Joyn: too little, too late, too expensive” (=RCS)
  • During one of the panels, Andrzej Milkowski mentioned that WebRTC isn’t a competition – it builds an ecosystem that is about opening up communications
  • Chang Feng from ooVoo represented the OTTs. His talk was about pushing for OTT and Telco partnerships. He indicated that for them, WebRTC support is requested by their partners and third party developers
  • Serge from Google stated that their current focus is on mobile support. Their roadmap definitely shows that – expect a lot of progress there in 2014
  • Serge also mentioned in a panel that WebRTC wasn’t really targeted at Telecom in any way. This means that Telecom will need to adapt to WebRTC and not the other way
  • Ken Wieland has written a good summary of Serge’s keynote
  • Chris Kranky did a great performance (not presentation. not session. performance), where he gave 5 suggestions of what Telco’s should do today with WebRTC

 

My own Sessions

I had a successful pre-conference session in the first day of this summit. There were 20-something participants in a rather crowded room. This had the benefit of feeling nice and cozy, converting it more to a conversation instead of a frontal presentation.

Here are the slides from that session:

My other session was close to the end of the summit, and it was more of a hard-core technical topic on voice codecs in WebRTC. It was probably a bit too much at that point in time. The slides for that are here as well:

How to “Read” me

I noticed that some people in the conference didn’t know of the various “channels” I have for information. There are 4 main ways to “consume” my writing (and curation) at the moment:

  1. The content on this blog, available in RSS or email
  2. Weekly newsletter, which I operate together with Chris Kranky. It doesn’t hold the content on this blog, but rather the best weekly writing the both of us can find elsewhere
  3. Monthly newsletter, which is my own. It has content unavailable on this blog, it short bits of information to make it easily consumable

Reports. Long form writing, that require payment – for those who need an in-depth view to specific aspects of WebRTC

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