What is WebRTC and why should I use it?

author By Patrick Byrnes, 29/10/13

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC (Web Real Time Communication) is a free, open-source browser-based communications project that allows compliant web browsers to communicate with audio and visuals in real-time using JavaScript APIs and HTML5.

Why Choose WebRTC?

While it is still in the early stages, WebRTC has many benefits over the more well-known platforms for online communications such as Skype and Apple’s FaceTime. One of the key features that makes WebRTC so revolutionary is that it does not require anything other than a compatible browser, a webcam and a microphone for people to start communicating with high quality and performance. There will no longer be the issue of making sure certain plug-ins and software are installed at either end of a call or video conference, and the encrypted call security is said to be more secure than a landline.

The versatility of WebRTC will only continue to improve over time as more and more developers find new ways of harnessing the technology – There have already been moves towards using WebRTC for motion detection and browser-based video games. One of the first companies to make their WebRTC offering available to a wide audience is Washington based &yet and their “truly simple video chat” website, Talky.io. Talky combines video chat and screen sharing for Firefox and Chrome browsers and even works on Smartphones using the Firefox mobile browser.

Obstacles to Overcome

As with all emerging technologies, there will be things in the way that may slow progress. In WebRTC’s case, major global leaders in voice and video communications such as Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s FaceTime may not be too receptive to a hassle-free, browser-based alternative. Mozilla Firefox & Google Chrome have already made WebRTC available across their browsers and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will offer WebRTC support in its IE11 release. Apple at present are watching the market but given that the other major browser have staked a claim in supporting WebRTC then its only a matter of time before they too get on board.

What WebRTC Means for SMBs and Enterprise

Over the coming years, we will see a gradual rise of WebRTC implementation within SMBs and even Enterprise organisations. WebRTC functionality will allow businesses to communicate globally, knowing that software and hardware compatibility is not an issue and the costs of implementing a system like this would be considerably cheaper than a purpose built conference calling suite.

One of the most clearly beneficial applications of WebRTC for business VoIP will be the use of “click-to-call” capabilities built-in to customer driven websites, offering a 1 click option to directly contact a customer service or support rep.

Overall, the integration of WebRTC into business and social communications is a huge positive. The possibilities are extensive and will only continue to grow as the does the community of developers behind it. Communications and collaborations across businesses will be able to run seamlessly with a simple, browser-based technology with no need for additional plug-ins or software. All shapes and sizes of Businesses will be able to implement low cost, high quality communication platforms and integrate them into their web presence in an effective customer focussed manner.