Genband: WebRTC takes center stage, but it's 'early stages'

ORLANDO, Fla.--Genband has devoted much of its stage time at this week's Perspectives 14 summit to one of its favorite topics, WebRTC, exploring the status of the real-time communications framework that has potential in myriad use cases, according to the company.

Brad Bush, chief marketing officer at Genband, shared his vision of WebRTC and the idea of communications' becoming more of a "human contextual moment," happening at the most crucial moment in a business decision, for example.

But he acknowledged that much is yet to be determined. "Where this technology will go is still in its infant stages," Bush said.

Currently, a billion browsers are WebRTC compliant; it's available in Google Chrome, Chrome for Android, Firefox and Opera. Internet Explorer is not supported, nor is Apple Safari, he said.

Still, it's expected to grow, and Bush pointed to recent coverage in the mainstream press, including a recent article in The Economist, about how WebRTC is making its way further into consumers' lives.

Genband is bridging the gap between the telco and the web world with its SPiDR WebRTC Gateway, making it easier for operators to customize services for their customers. A big portion of Genband's recently unveiled Kandy platform is WebRTC.

Judging by the responses from Genband's panel of experts, WebRTC is, indeed, in the very early stages, and expectations for its prospects are varied.

Catharine Trebinck, senior research analyst at Dougherty & Co., said WebRTC is not something that is top of mind for most investors. "I think the Street is farther behind in understanding the value," she said.

Diane Meyers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics Research, was less optimistic about its prospects on the consumer side. "I think the real value of WebRTC is on the enterprise side," she said.

She pointed to an example with China Mobile, which about a year ago started working with an insurance company to put WebRTC on tablets. Workers equipped with the tablets went out on scooters to examine accidents and send information back to colleagues in the office--all cloud-based, and it made a real difference in quickly moving information.

Yet it's still not clear how service providers in general will use WebRTC and, more importantly, how they're going to make money from it.

Rich Tehrani, CEO of TMC, said carriers need to start thinking about WebRTC and what it means for them. "We have to start thinking more as an industry, like software companies," he said. "Facebook is now a big threat to a lot of carriers." He added that Facebook has won over a lot of the "community" and address book.

Related articles:
AT&T evolves small cell, VoLTE, WebRTC in drive for broadband ubiquity
Genband CEO invites customers to join in transformation race