Planning the programme for the Broadband World Forum, we are constantly coming across fresh ideas for inclusion in the conference agenda. We are currently witnessing huge changes among operators right across the world, as the industry speeds up its intent to transform networks for the better, catering for ever-increasing consumer demand.
There is no doubt that buzzwords such as All-IP, SDN and virtualization are propelling the industry towards great change. Yet a new buzzword on the horizon might just have the power to turn everything on its head – WebRTC.
WebRTC is a new open source real-time communication technique, already freely available for use across multiple browsers and platforms – crucially, without the need for any plugins or downloads.
So as bandwidth increases, computer video technology is improved and content creators become more innovative, what does this mean for real-time communication as we know it? Will telephony and VoIP still have a place in this bold new era, or could web broadcasting become all-encompassing? Should telecom operators change their strategies to support this new technology? And if they do, can they move fast enough to gain a real foothold in the WebRTC market while the opportunities still remain, or will they be left behind?
This is a crucial question at this year’s Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam on 21-23 October 2014. WebRTC will the subject of a dedicated Content Hub on the exhibition show floor and is set to feature in the main conference agenda too.
While there may still be some hesitation around the technicalities of deploying WebRTC within the operator community, at Informa’s recent WebRTC Global Summit conference in London, the general consensus was that for operators to gain a real foothold in this emerging market, the time to act is now. There is a danger is that if telcos ignore the customer aspect of WebRTC, the field will be left wide open for IT innovators to fill the gap instead.
It was also concluded that telcos need to make sure that they are not being held back by a fear of risk-taking. At the Summit, all the perceived technology challenges highlighted by operators were declared by the developer community to be fairly easily surmountable. Instead of waiting until the technology is perfected before acting, operators should keep their eyes firmly on the many commercial benefits of WebRTC and its revolutionary ability to create a whole new level of customer experience, and get involved in the story of WebRTC before it’s too late.
So, will the operator community move fast enough this year to conquer the WebRTC challenge? Sceptic or supporter, come and join us in the debate – the jury is certainly not out.