Real Time Communications Featured Article

New Opportunities Abound with Real Time Communications

June 09, 2015

(This is a 2-part series. Read Part 1 HERE)

A combination of real time communications (RTC) and broadband is opening up floodgates of opportunities in the fields of education, healthcare, public safety, information, banking and financial services. 

Already, Google has demonstrated the ability of WebRTC to support distance learning through its Hangouts service.  Teachers can now take their students to any research institution or museum around the world, talking to subject matter experts and enabling students to ask questions live.  For more detailed instruction, one-on-one tutoring opportunities are available through services such as PeerSquared.

RTC in healthcare may be the prime opportunity for improving care while reducing costs. Numerous healthcare and insurance organizations are spinning up virtual doctor visits for sick patients, including Kaiser Permanente.  A patient can use a mobile device or PC to talk to a doctor without a co-pay and get a recommendation without having to leave the house.   Kaiser's system has been used by 4,200 members since the program was started in August 2013, treating things such as back problems, cough/cold/sinus, eye problems, allergies, sprains and other issues. On average, a doctor on telemedicine care can "see" six patients per hour while that average goes down to 1.6 for in-person visits.

Health care organizations like virtual visits because it saves cost and keeps people out of the emergency room if they don't need to be there. The City of Houston is putting a "virtual doctor" into every one of its ambulances via tablet, enabling first responders to provide underserved residents with treatment options that don't require an expensive ride to an expensive ER visit.  Houston may save up to $2 million per year through RTC-based triage.

A different look at WebRTC's potential can be found in Comcast's Xfinity Share.  The service lets Xfinity customers live stream videos via mobile app directly to a Comcast X1 set-top box.  Comcast has long been a leader in using software to create new applications for customers.  It is likely that Xfinity Share is the tip of the iceberg for Comcast, with other consumer and business applications under development.  Most businesses would like a cloud-based call center.  Comcast could provide one with voice, video and screen sharing in short order, leveraging WebRTC to quickly speed development.

Gaming is a big area for future growth.  Going beyond the integration of real-time voice into multiplayer games,  "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" provides a great example of using WebRTC's data channel to enable players to compete against each other  in a peer to peer fashion. The game is a part of the official movie "experience" and available for a look at

The financial industry is piloting WebRTC solutions in order to better engage with their customers. Coutts & Co., part of the Royal Bank of Scotland, launched a pilot earlier this year to enable high-end customers to call their advisor and discuss matters (virtually) face-to-face.  Powered by OpenTok, the multipoint solution allows customers to talk to several experts at once, enabling complex queries to be dealt with immediately. For "the rest of us," remote teller solutions, such as one deployed by Akbank, will enable customers to one-click from a banking site to a video-enabled agent. Customers get the personal "touch" they want while the bank is able to clear up problems more quickly through a direct dialog with customers.

The most important part about cloud-based UC and WebRTC is that growing broadband penetration enables everyone to access services in a click-to-communicate fashion.  Gigabit fiber, multi-gigabit cable, and G.FAST gigabit copper deployments are the final key to make click-to-communicate services transparent and accessible for users and businesses. People and businesses will simply have click-to-communication in the browser, enabling all parties to focus on the business at hand rather than having to worry about the technology needed to make it happen.

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