Dialogic Blog

Video Telephony: From the Picturephone to WebRTC

by Chad Hart

Apr 2, 2014 9:50:00 AM


Caption: AT&T introduced the Picturephone service in 1970, but telco-provided consumer video telephony services never found success.

The telco community has been trying to make video telephony a commercial success since AT&T introduced the Picturephone (pictured) in 1970, but it has never found great traction. WebRTC offers a new technological means to offer this kind of service, but it does not change any of the other dynamics involved in launching a successful service. It does however offer a means of deploying new kinds of services that happen to use video telephony.

I think the most interesting applications for WebRTC are those that embed communications where they aren’t traditionally present. The Internet of Things (IoT) is helping to embed the Web inside all kinds of devices, and WebRTC allows real-time voice, video and data communications to be part of that. Many new applications are hitting the market, bringing with them new challenges. There is a huge opportunity for telcos to be part of the solution to those problems. For example, many telcos are starting to offer their own home automation and security services. WebRTC makes it possible to add real-time communications to these offerings, such as getting access to a live video stream if an alarm goes off.

Another common WebRTC use for telcos is simply extending the services they offer over the Web. Several service providers offer web-based dialers that let their consumers use their phone numbers to make calls over the Web. WebRTC makes it easier to implement those capabilities.

Lastly, WebRTC lowers costs and helps telcos overcome many of the technical barriers that stand in the way of implementing their own over-the-top (OTT)-style services. There are many vertical-, niche- and customer-specific opportunities that the traditional PSTN can't serve effectively. WebRTC is helping telcos to profitably address the long-tail of communications services for these customers.

Interested in WebRTC? Check out how some of our leading industry partners are using the technology here.

Topics: WebRTC