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WebRTC Mobility in the Enterprise: 2015 Is The Year

January 22, 2015

WebRTC is going to be ‘The Big Thing’ for mobility and the enterprise in 2015.  AT&T's dive into WebRTC with its "enhanced" API means simpler and easier ways to build fully functional clients that run on any platform, anywhere. 

For businesses, WebRTC is the tool that makes bring your own device (BYOD) policies relatively headache-free.  Before, the IT department had to support a select, short list of devices -- and for security reasons, may still do so.   WebRTC provides a relatively universal way (Sorry, Microsoft Phone people) to support both Android and iOS devices.  Real time communications clients and applications can be written ones and distributed across the majority of mobile devices people use today, plus run just the same way on the desktop/laptop.

Microsoft is now behind WebRTC in a big way, rolling in into Internet Explorer (IE) and Skype. Its "mobile first/cloud first" strategy has shown a remarkable agnosticism to other operating systems, with the company rolling out free  versions of Microsoft Office for Android and iOS across last year.  The business world continues to be where Microsoft plays better than either Apple or Google.  WebRTC support for Lync, er Skype for Business, regular Skype, IE and (most likely) Microsoft's streamlined Spartan browser translate to wider WebRTC support across all platform.

Spartan may be the most radical depart for Microsoft.  The rumor mill suggests Spartan, scheduled to come out with Windows 10, is designed to be fast and could support Chrome-like extensions for rapid porting of existing Chrome apps to a Microsoft world.  Even its name suggests that Microsoft's next browser will be a lean, mean fighting machine, making it perfect to run in a multi-OS environment encompassing Ye Olde Windows, Windows Phone, Apple iOS and Google Android, with Xbox maybe thrown in for kicks.

When the smoke clears, Microsoft should be able to provide a single browser solution to just about any BYOD device in the enterprise, something Apple has zero interest in while Google hasn't been a big hurry with.  One or more "universal" -- run on all major platforms -- WebRTC-supporting browsers are the first half in the WebRTC enterprise boom, with Microsoft having the edge for its established position in business.

The second half is AT&T's leap into WebRTC.  The biggest Tier 1 carrier to come out with support for WebRTC, it is also offering "Enhanced" support to WebRTC in its beta to include dial-out support to regular phone numbers,  consent to make and receive calls using AT&T mobile numbers within a browser or app, the ability to rent a virtual numbers to make and receive voice or video calls from an app or browser, and the ability to call enable existing account IDs of users associated with a domain name.

I suspect AT&T is already looking at ways to roll its version of WebRTC into IMS, giving it a way to provide quality of service (QoS) to a WebRTC session in an LTE environment.   Currently, over-the-top applications are served on a best-effort basis while Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has priority on the LTE network in order to provide the best call quality.  App designers and service providers should be willing to pay for WebRTC QoS if the price is reasonable or "free" when compared to third-party OTT-style WebRTC API services.   With extra money to be made through the "Enhanced" support by billing for routing to regular phone numbers, AT&T can both be a WebRTC innovator and generate money with its existing network.

AT&T also has an established and trusted brand, so developers will likely look to the carrier for projects that require both scale and rock-solid reliability -- again, assuming API use and legacy phone network pricing is within reason.  Developers may be willing to a penny or two more for AT&T service, but quarters and dollars are out of the question.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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