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WebRTC

WebRTC is…everywhere, but what is WebRTC? WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a technology that allows Web browsers to stream audio or video media, as well as to exchange useful data between browsers, mobile platforms, and IoT devices without requiring an intermediary such as a server.

The Past: The World Before WebRTC

Before WebRTC, the need to connect virtually and to have video conferences and communications via the web was a priority. In the past, you had to rely on plug-ins or an installable application on your PC – not just your web browser. This was very inconvenient as users were required to install additional, incompatible apps, and developers had to study complex stacks and protocols to make the magic happen.

WebRTC was born

Many of WebRTC technology’s underpinnings were first developed by Global IP Solutions (or GIPS), a company founded around 1999 in Sweden. In 2011, GIPS was acquired by Google, and the W3C started to work on a standard for WebRTC (real-time communication). WebRTC specifies a series of APIs for real-time communications (RTC) targeted at browsers. Since 2011, Google and other major players in the web-browser market, such as Mozilla and Opera, have been actively supporting WebRTC.

Today companies trust WebRTC to offer them the leverage they need to deliver the user experience they strive for.

Understanding WebRTC Advantages

WebRTC is a set of plugin-free APIs that can be used in both desktop and mobile browsers. One of the WebRTC advantages is that it does not need any native apps for audio and video communication as it allows peer-to-peer communication on the web pages. So, what is WebRTC being used for in real time in real businesses? Some of the top companies like Amazon and Facebook are all leveraging this, but Google Meet (or more accurately, Hangouts) is probably one of the main reasons we have WebRTC today.

Google had their own video conferencing service, working from Gmail, but it needed a plugin. Real-time video just wasn’t there in the browser, which is where and why WebRTC started. If this isn’t explanation enough as to why our technology is moving beyond VoIP systems, here are some of the main WebRTC advantages:

  • WebRTC is free: Yes, free. WebRTC is an open-source application programming interface that is free of cost to the user. You only need a WebRTC-enabled browser. 
  • WebRTC is accessible through any device or platform: You don’t need any specific hardware, applications or operating system to use WebRTC. Any WebRTC-enabled browser can connect in real time to another WebRTC-enabled device. 
  • WebRTC video and audio is secure: WebRTC uses Secure RTP protocol (SRTP) at all time to authenticate and encrypt voice and video content to ensure there is no unwanted intrusions or recording. 
  • WebRTC has exceptionally high-quality media: Since WebRTC supports multiple types of media, there’s capability to produce the appropriate level of bandwidth and offer the highest quality voice and video. 

There are so many variables to the technological advancements surrounding WebRTC, these are just a few of the advantages we can name. Understanding these individual features gives a fairly comprehensive idea of what this technology can do, but next we’ll see how companies have started using it in real time. 

Examples Of WebRTC

Now, what is WebRTC actually being used for in the marketplace? There are so many interesting use cases for WebRTC, but here are a few popular ones you may not have considered:

  • WebRTC provides Simple Collaboration: How many times have you been invited to a meeting, and as soon as you clicked on the link, it asked you to sign up or download an app before you could join the call? It can be frustrating to open an account or download a platform to engage in a business meeting. WebRTC removes this barrier, providing a seamless, non-invasive way to connect and collaborate. Using WebRTC when communicating with colleagues, clients, and business partners is easier, simpler, and more convenient.
  • WebRTC features enable Contextual Applications: You can use a third party API like OAuth to pull data from services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. This API type makes it possible for customers to leverage their own social graph data to augment their experience within your websites and applications. You can then couple this data with WebRTC-powered features to enable rich contextual communications. This could enable easy sharing of the person’s Twitter handle, email address, or other public profile information, along with links to their most recent tweets or Facebook posts.
  • Speed up File Sharing with WebRTC: Suppose you want to send a massive file to a colleague while working on a project. Instead of emailing the file or uploading it to a third-party cloud storage system (and waiting several minutes for the transfer to complete), you could send it directly through your web browser using WebRTC’s data channel, with very low-latency and the benefit of full encryption between the two endpoints.
  • WebRTC supports clients on the move with Embedded Endpoints: ATMs. Vending machines. Bus stops. Retail store kiosks. All of these endpoints can be embedded with WebRTC engines. It’s an easy way to connect customers with live agents while they are on-the-go.
  • WebRTC creates a personal touch using Sales Enablement: Websites and applications are key tools for sales enablement. Customers rarely make important purchases on impulse. Decisions are often made after speaking with a sales associate. Providing a website or application with a WebRTC audio or video contact channel is a great way to provide ongoing assistance throughout the purchasing process.
  • WebRTC keeps communities safer with Emergency Response: In some cases, WebRTC is being used to increase public safety. SaferMobility streamlines real-time interactions with authorities by enabling video, audio, and text communications while utilizing location-based awareness. This use of the WebRTC data channel allows responding personnel to have deeper insight and better information by circumventing previously existing communication barriers when responding to emergency calls.
  • Patient Management in a pandemic using WebRTC: Many health clinics are now using WebRTC based solutions to reduce in-office patient visits. This can be helpful during a pandemic like what we are living right now when doctors can perform check-ups over Web browsers. This allows them to allocate more time to higher priority patients while staying safe. WebRTC is also a great way for clinic staff to communicate with patients in-between visits as all the patient needs is a web browser and a URL.
  • WebRTC enhances Audience Participation: Tap to Speak recently developed a WebRTC-based solution that turns smartphones into microphones during live events. The application was designed to improve communication between audience members and presenters, as it eliminates having to pass a traditional microphone around a room.

WebRTC Summary

In summary, pretty much any application that wants to share data or video between peers can use WebRTC. The reason for this massive adoption is that browser to browser communication is significantly cheaper than going through a server (up to 90% cheaper from Video Banking and the Economics of the Retail Business). Furthermore, users will no longer need to rely on dedicated hardware sets and applications to join a meeting and have a video conference call; browsers are always accessible to everyone!

Sangoma Meet: A Great Example of Adopting WebRTC

Sangoma Meet was launched in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis to help everyone stay connected and get through this challenging period. With WebRTC technology behind it, Sangoma Meet allows users to start a video call without downloading a plugin or installing an application. Unlike Zoom or GoToMeeting, where you have to install a plugin or an application, Sangoma Meet is simply using your browser to establish a connection with another peer.

The ease of use and compatibility with common browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera makes it a great choice for different industries to adopt in different use cases, as mentioned earlier. Features like multiple participants video conferencing, 1:1 video calls, phone dial-in, screen sharing, recording the meeting (available on V3.0 and above), waiting room (coming soon), local chat, and moderation tools are all running on the web, and users can join the meetings from their mobile devices, laptop or simply from any device which supports web browsers.

Explore WebRTC with Sangoma Meet - The WebRTC Advantages are Endless

Have you tried Sangoma Meet yet? Check out this page and enjoy having a hassle-free call with your friends, family, and colleagues.

Related: 6 Tips For A Smooth Collaboration Migration

Original article by Setareh Nezami, posted on Sangoma.com

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