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How Telco’s fit into the WebRTC, OTT Communications equation

In recent discussions about Open Peer with analysts and at WebRTC Conferences I have been asked the question; How Telco’s fit into the WebRTC, OTT (over-the-top) Communications equation?

My views on this issue are grounded in economics and history. First, the history. In 2001 I joined a startup defined as a BLEC, (Building Local Exchange Carrier) doing very early work with VoDSL (Voice over DSL over ATM). The business case was that voice services could be delivered more efficiently over broadband connections resulting in enhanced services for customers and profits for the business.

By 2003 our focus on VoDSL was transitioning to a “new” protocol, VoIP (Voice over IP). I have distinct memories of countless meetings with Telco engineers and executives along with analyst and industry articles basically singing the same tune – VoIP is a geek’s technology, it will never be ready for prime time, will never be successfully commercialized. This is blood in the water to an entrepreneur’s shark instinct and we, along with other early players such as Vonage and Skype, and many of today’s most successful telecom equipment providers, went all in on VoIP. Today, VoIP and SIP are key Telco technology standards, now that they’ve been validated by early stage, risk takers. That leads me to the economics part of the response.

VoIP has been successfully adopted over the past decade simply because it has proven a better, less expensive way of delivering voice services. The early validation of VoIP by players like Skype, Vonage and a host of others doesn’t necessarily mean those guys were smarter than the Telco’s. It means they were operating under different management responsibilities and risk/reward paradigms. The executive management and boards of Telcos are hired and paid NOT to take risks. They run utilities owned by pension funds and are tasked to provide reasonable, conservative returns with as little risk as possible. They are not paid to innovate. That’s the domain of the other end of the risk/reward spectrum, startups and entrepreneurs.

So, How will Telco’s fit into the WebRTC, OTT Communications equation? History and economics indicate that they will ultimately embrace WebRTC and OTT completely.  How do we know? Skype, the king of OTT communications today was once a geek’s technology and WebRTC obviously is today, but, WebRTC and OTT clearly provide enhanced services at reduced costs, quite simply, a better, easier, less expensive way of doing things. Economic history clearly indicates technology with these attributes succeeds and is widely adopted. The Open Peer software we build at our small, young technology company, Hookflash,  provides higher quality HD video, and wideband audio sessions over reasonable quality broadband connections (wireline or wireless) than PSTN/equipment based solutions, at a tiny fraction of the cost. It also takes a unique new approach to web identity and connecting on IP networks, see Identity Federation.

Open Peer software also directly integrates with other software and applications including enterprise directories, social media, ERP and CRM which will add untold value in productivity, and eliminate the ongoing need and costs associated with PSTN connections and telecom equipment infrastructure. (And yes, it’s shortsighted to ask, what about features like voice mail or ACD?) Messaging is the new ringtone and exciting new features will emerge in Real-Time Communications via WebRTC and mobile to replace other traditional telephony features as computers in their various forms, smartphones, tablets and desktops (and even televisions) continue to replace telephones.

Progressive Telco’s are already launching OTT services such as Telefonica’s O2 Tu Go and British Telecoms’ SmartTalk. UK Analysts Vision Mobile produced an excellent White Paper (sponsored by Ericsson) on Telco strategy for OTT: The Telco Innovation Toolbox.

How Telco’s ultimately fit remains to be seen but here’s my take:

– the majority of communications will migrate to OTT, (essentially meaning all IP) due to superior economics and manageability – telcos will be swept along

– Many Telco’s may wind up positioned one layer back from most customer/subscribers finding their optimal opportunities in providing critical broadband capacity and quality for the growth of OTT and WebRTC services in an all IP era.

–  adoption of OTT and WebRTC will happen more rapidly than VoIP did as customer adoption cycles continue to shorten replacing today’s hybrid IP/PSTN connectivity with all IP solutions. Microsoft Lync is a good example of this kind of temporary hybrid solution. I’d suggest Oracle’s recent $2 billion investment in Acme Packet is a leading indicator of the integration that will occur in an all IP communications marketplace.

– Telco’s will ultimately focus on their competitive advantage as infrastructure providers and benefit as growth in over-the-top services drives bandwidth demand

Telco topline revenue may decline as they transition from traditional subscriber revenues but margins and business stability will improve as Telcos provide enhanced broadband services including speed, capacity, Quality of Service, and security. Telco’s will thrive providing the foundational backbone for OTT services and WebRTC in the new growth era of integrated real-time communications on the web.

 


by Trent Johnsen

WebRTC, Open Peer & Tim Caswell @creationix

At Hookflash we believe WebRTC is the future of real time communications. Our unwavering effort to support this newly proposed standard has not gone unnoticed and consequently we get to work with some of the brightest minds in the space. Tim Caswell is one of those JavaScript champions you hear about but rarely get the chance to work with. Tim @creationix has a history of doing great work in the JS world and we truly feel honored to be working with him on Open Peer, OP.js & WebRTC.

Thanks for “throwing in” Tim!

Open Peer now in JSON

The newest Open Peer Protocol Specification has had a significant revamp, which we are all excited about here at Hookflash’s headquarters. The protocol has become “JSON-ified”, if that can be made into a verb.

The original specification was written using an XML as that was the technology easiest to integrate into the original C++ implementation at the time but it had outgrown its usefulness.

What does this change mean in practical terms? Anyone using an end product built upon either protocol might not have noticed any difference but there is a few important aspects of JSON that make it better suited for Open Peer and as a web technology under the hood.

XML is a powerful document markup language, including a document description language whereas JSON is really a data exchange format. JSON is much simpler. It’s the complexities of XML that actually make it harder to handle. Using XML required every engine to have a minimum powerful XML functions to wield the protocol. JSON’s simplicity makes the implementation and exchange of data much easier.

This allows developers to concentrate on what they actually need to do – exchange information and data and not spend time worrying about XML and all the strange yet wonderful magical things it’s capable of doing, but with little added real world value aside from a few specialized situations.

JSON’s ease of use is exactly the reason why JSON has exploded in use in the JavaScript world of the web. JSON converts almost directly into easy to handle programming language structures and in the case of JavaScript, it’s a 1-for-1 mapping to the language. This makes implementing with JavaScript as simple as handling normal data structures, and is a great sequa to OPJS our Open Peer JavasScript library.

Easy programming = better and more sophisticated applications.

Then there’s the “cool” factor. Communications protocols throughout history have been mapped onto the prominent paradigm technologies of the time. H.323 was based on Q.931 ISDN telecommunications. SIP was based on HTTP header processing. XMPP was based on XML. Now finally a communications signaling protocol that mirrors today’s adopted open web standards – JSON.

Still prefer XML? Well, you can still use it. The format of Open Peer was specifically designed to allow easy JSON to XML and vice-versa. Use whatever processing you wish if the need is truly there. But I have to ask, why would you want to?

Please take a glance at the latest version of the Open Peer Protocol Specification.

Happy Holidays – Open Peer Developer Sandbox is Open!

Open Peer SDK developer sandbox is now open! We are very excited to open the developer sandbox for the Open Peer iOS SDK! Developers that have signed up should have now received their credentials. Those of you who have not signed up, what are you  waiting for?

[jbutton icon=”forum” size=”xlarge” link=”/signup/”]Signup Today![/jbutton]

Thank you for your patience and happy coding!

Launched Today: Open Peer SDK for iOS & Desktop

Hookflash Platform - Open Peer iOS SDK

WebRTC Expo, San Francisco CA, – November 29, 2012—In 2010 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference Steve Jobs announced, “we’re going to the standards bodies tomorrow and making FaceTime an open standard.” A great vision of tremendous value to tens of millions of users, unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

Today, Hookflash announces availability of the Open Peer Software Development Kit (SDK) for iOS, providing developers with Peer-to-Peer mobile voice, video and messaging on Apple’s iOS mobile platform. Open Peer iOS SDK aims to realize Jobs’ vision,” explains Hookflash CEO Trent Johnsen. “Developers can now use the Open Peer SDK to provide their customers with high quality voice, video calling and messaging in their own iOS apps”

People just want voice, video and text communications embedded in whatever they’re doing, that’s what Open Peer does. What is important here is that Open Peer enables developers to integrate real time communications into their iOS and desktop applications today and use it as P2P signaling for WebRTC / RTCWEB in browsers in the near future. Seamless high quality, low cost communications between any web enabled devices regardless of operating system, Open Peer.

The company simultaneously announced the availability of Hookflash Cloud Services (HCS), hosted cloud services to support Open Peer deployments based on the Open Peer SDK. Hookflash Cloud Services pricing is designed to support both large enterprise and carrier deployments as well as independent developers with affordable, scalable plans.

Developers can register at (http://hookflash.com/signup) to start using the Open Peer SDK today.

For more information and a free white paper on the Open Peer & WebRTC please visit Hookflash http://hookflash.com

Hookflash for iPad is a reference app built on and powered by “Open Peer” http://openpeer.org. Hookflash for iPad demonstrates the use of Open Peer integrated with LinkedIn as directory. It is available in the iTunes App Store.

 

Press Contact:

Trent Johnsen

Hookflash

Press@hookflash.com

855-HOOKFLASH (466-5352) ext 1

 

Hookflash enables real-time social, mobile, communications with “Open Peer” for integration of voice, video, and messaging into world leading software, enterprise, applications, networks, mobile and computing devices. Hookflash and Open Peer are trademarks of Hookflash Inc. Apple, Facetime, iTunes and iOS are trademarks of Apple. LinkedIn is a trademark of LinkedIn. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Hookflash at WebRTC World

Hookflash will be at WebRTC Expo in San Francisco. We will be talking about industry disruption and what resources are available to build WebRTC solutions.

It’s going to be a blast and we are super excited about being there.

This is going to fill up quick so make sure you register early.

http://www.webrtcworld.com/