9 Advantages Of WebRTC

WebRTC brings many benefits to the user, integrator, and developer that have been less available in past communications and collaboration platforms.

Gary Audin

January 3, 2014

3 Min Read
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With all the hype around WebRTC, it must offer capabilities that are leaps and bounds beyond our present communications and collaboration environment. There are advantages to WebRTC that propel it past today's VoIP and video systems. Even if you dismiss some of the following nine advantages, many are well worth considering.

It's free
WebRTC is an open-source application programming interface (API) first introduced by Google in 2011. Google's goal for WebRTC is to deliver a standard-based, real-time media engine that will be free and resident in all available browsers.

Platform and device independence
Any WebRTC-enabled browser with any operating system and a web services application can direct the browser to create a real-time voice or video connection to another WebRTC device or to a WebRTC media server. The browser operating system is not relevant. This is accomplished by implementing standard APIs from the W3C and protocols from the IETF. Developers can write HTML5 code that can work on desktop and mobile devices.

Secure voice and video
WebRTC has always-on voice and video encryption. The Secure RTP protocol (SRTP) is used for encryption and authentication of both voice and video. This is especially beneficial over WiFi networks. This prevents eavesdropping and recording of the voice and video.

Advanced voice and video quality
WebRTC uses the Opus audio codec that produces high fidelity voice. The Opus codec is based on Skype's SILK codec technology. The VP8 codec is used for video. These selections ensure interoperability and avoid the need for codec downloads that may contain malicious code.

Reliable session establishment
WebRTC supports reliable session establishment. This is true for Network Address Translators (NAT), something that hinders and may block other communications and collaboration protocols. The reliable operation avoids server-relayed media and thereby reduces latency and increases quality. It also reduces the server load.

Multiple media streams
WebRTC is an adaptive network solution that compensates and adjusts to changing network conditions. It adjusts the communications quality, responds to bandwidth availability, detecting and avoiding congestion. This is accomplished using the multiplexed RTP Control Protocol (RTCP) and Secure Audio Video Profile with Feedback (SAVPF). The receiving browser sends network condition information back to the sending browser where the conditions can be analyzed to respond to changed network conditions.

Adaptive to network conditions
WebRTC supports the negotiation of multiple media types and endpoints. This produces an efficient use of bandwidth delivering the best possible voice and video communications. The APIs and signaling can negotiate the size and format for each endpoint individually.

Interoperability with VoIP and video
The biggest value of WebRTC is its promise of interoperability with existing voice and video systems. This includes devices using SIP, Jingle, XMPP, and the PSTN. What may hinder the global interoperability will be the upgrades necessary in exiting devices. Alternately, gateways can be the solution to interoperability. Some are already on the market. If the existing voice and video devices using standard protocols, they will probably work with WebRTC-based devices.

Rapid application development
Developers will experience a streamlined development process reducing the time for application implementation. Detailed knowledge of WebRTC will not be necessary because of the standardized APIs. Finally, the voice and video codecs are license-free.

In case anyone is interested in learning more about WebRTC, this blog was inspired by course material I developed for the “WebRTC Integrators” online course.

What combination of these nine WebRTC advantages do you see as bringing value to your company? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author(s)

Gary Audin

President, Delphi, Inc.

Gary Audin has more than 40 years of computer, communications, and security consulting and implementation experience. He has planned, designed, specified, implemented, and operated data, LAN, and telephone networks. These have included local area, national, and international networks, as well as VoIP and IP convergent networks in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, and Asia. Gary has advised domestic and international venture capital and investment bankers in communications, VoIP, and microprocessor technologies.

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