Real Time Communications Featured Article

Real Time Communications Set to Supercharge Triple Play

September 25, 2014

Home communications used to be pretty simple: it was a classic triple play, with home phone, broadband/Internet and pay-TV. The quad-play of course added wireless to the mix. But with the advent of DOCSIS 3.0 (and soon, DOCSIS 3.1) and all-IP, operators are able to blur the lines between services, and offer value-added, real-time communications (RTC) options. It’s a brand-new day for the home bundle.

In fact, Smith’s Point Analytics expects the market for cloud RTC platforms to represent a $4.5 billion opportunity by 2018. These will enable cloud services that allow mobile and Web developers, and their operator partners, to integrate communications into existing applications with just a few lines of code. In converse, developers can also easily integrate voice, messaging and video calling into mobile and Web applications, supporting more contextual communications and an extension of the triple play to new screens.

The WebRTC standard has been and will continue to be one of the most talked-about linchpins when it comes to embedding real-time communications into services. As Alcatel-Lucent described in a note on the subject, for operators, “it opens up new opportunities to capitalize on existing network investments and enhance the customer experience. By using your network to extend cohesive value across telecom and the Web, you can increase your total addressable market, create new markets and inspire Web developers’ innovation.”

Comcast has been a first-mover in this regard, integrating WebRTC into its next-gen X1 middleware platform to facilitate some whiz-bang features for Xfinity subscribers. For instance, the capability to stream video from mobile devices to the television, a talking guide, and various visual voicemail apps that pop-up on the TV screen.

The former is particularly interesting, given that other options for doing so are strictly over-the-top, like Google Chromecast.

“Imagine you’re in Philadelphia and can live-stream your son’s tee-ball game to his grandparents’ TV in San Francisco,” said Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of consumer services for Comcast Cable.

If operators can craft a third-party developer strategy effectively, triple-play apps can in theory become as prolific as the mobile widget space, offering new monetization opportunities and differentiation points.

“By providing standardized cross platform APIs and developer relations, [real-time communications platforms] are providing an opportunity for operators to participate in the ongoing market innovation,” said Smith’s Point, in a recent report.

Developers are willing to pay for the privilege as well. A Smith’s Point user survey found that the weighted average premium developers were willing to pay to opperators for better quality of service and reliability was 14% for voice, 18% for messaging, and 20% for integrated video and voice.

“Vendors with background in telecommunications will be better positioned to provide superior quality of service while companies with roots in the Web will be better able to interface with developers,” the firm said.

And indeed, vendors continue to leap into the breach: for instance, ooVoo has just partnered with Intel to release the ooVoo SDK for WebRTC, which enables mobile and Web developers to build multiplatform applications integrating multiparty, video chat into applications within modern Web browsers.

“These tools have the potential to change in how we interact with each other in the future,” Smith’s Point noted. “In the past, experienced telecommunications developers were the only ones with the skills to build applications that included communications features. With technology such as WebRTC and cloud RTC platforms, communications infrastructure is being exposed and communication interfaces much more flexible. Innovators will combine traditional forms of communications to create new more collaborative and interactive experiences.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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