Real Time Communications Featured Article

What Does Real-Time Communications Mean for the Telco?

June 17, 2015

In the realm of communications, we’ve long assumed that the traditional telco would always play a role. They allowed for the provision of real-time communications and dominated an industry for years. But advancements in technology over the last two decades especially have opened up a whole new world, driving trends, creating new channels and changing the face of the industry.

Today, WebRTC is nearing mainstream and the Internet of Things (IoT) is creating a webification of communications. Chloe Green recently examined this reality in an Information Age post, asking that important question of what the future holds. WebRTC is being touted as one of the most powerful communications tools to date by some as it allows real-time video and voice communications through a web browser without the need to download software or plug-ins.

IoT, on the other hand, refers to all connected devices. Medical devices, refrigerators, cars, etc. are all being connected to the Internet, exchanging valuable information on how we can make better use of our devices or control them from afar. IoT is already paving the way for developers to have a significant influence over the way people interact and the technology they use to do so, whether at home or at the office.

For the traditional telco, this can mean a significant threat or an opportunity. Many consider WebRTC to be a threat to revenue, and why not? The technology was not developed or promoted by anyone in the telco space and it can effectively cut the telco out of the equation, making it irrelevant. Communications can easily take place over the top or in closed environments. Companies already on board are looking at the benefits, which include a reduction in the amount spent with the telco.

The good news for the telco is that this focus doesn’t mean they have to sit on the sidelines and watch the downfall of their industry. Those wanting to survive this next surge of development can take advantage of the opportunities they have in the size of the customer base and the ability to interoperate between legacy and OTT (over-the-top) environments. Recognizing the opportunity here instead of trying to duplicate services in an area in which they are not experts may be the best move.

For the telco, the key is understanding where they fit in the real-time communications value chain for both WebRTC and IoT. Perhaps providing access to the network to enable a gateway between services is the best use of resources. Could they provide an opportunity to fill the gap when applications can’t communicate due to lost access to the Internet?

There are possibilities for the telco to thrive in this new world, as long as they can draw on their assets and still meet new digital demands. In some cases, this will mean a shift in the way things have always been done. In a big way, that means replacing legacy hardware with software and embracing the opportunities in the cloud. If that can’t be done, the future for that telco may be very dim.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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