Trans-Continental Communication has been the domain of Internet based technologies since the inception of Internet itself. The most used technology for the purpose of audio-video conversation till now has been VoIP – Voice Over Internet Protocol. However this technology requires a separate dedicated software or a plugin for existing software to enable communication. This led to an idea which resulted in the development of a new technology for real time communication (RTC) called WebRTC, or Web Real Time Communication. It is a technology that allows audio, video, text, and data communication over internet browsers, without any browser plugin.
As such VOIP and WebRTC are two seemingly similar but surely distinctive technologies that are pitted against each other more often. VoIP is time tested, widely used, and popular, WebRTC on the other hand is new, fast, cross-platform compatible, need some more innovations, not very popular, and still a cautiously used technology.
Now that it is understood that WebRTC is a viable Internet Protocol (IP) communications system that parallels and runs alongside the internet-based phone system VoIP, the question that people have in mind is whether or not WebRTC is compatible with VOIP? And if it’s not, then is it competing against it?
With both the VoIP services and WebRTC solutions both being heavily promoted in the business and residential fields, are they assembling their arsenal for a major showdown against each other, or are they gathering to somehow coexist and command the telecommunication industry? How does the client benefit from these? What’s in it for people?
Let’s find out!
How WebRTC and VoIP are similar
VoIP was developed to facilitate audio-video and text communication over Internet and enhance human connectivity in general. The development of WebRTC revolved around the same principles as well. Both technologies are extremely flexible and can be used by any device that can run on the Internet, which includes the super computers and smart phones of today as well as yesteryear’s desktops and fax machines. Location does not matter, as long as you have Internet connection (faster than the dial-up connection of course) you can talk to anyone, anywhere.
How WebRTC and VoIP are Different
The main difference between VoIP and WebRTC is the underlying technology. VoIP is Internet based communication but it has many different variants such as VoIP over DSL/cable modem, voice over Wi-Fi/3G (VoWiFi/3G), voice over LTE (VoLTE), and Rich Communication Suite (RCS). WebRTC on the other hand is based entirely on browser-based technologies. It is in fact built upon VoIP standards along with peer-to-peer communication technology.
VoIP was built as an advanced telephonic technology with the purpose of making transcontinental communication cost effective. In its essence VoIP is a packed bundle of a whole set of technologies that work together to give one complete services. This set include technologies such as signaling technologies, media engine, Session Description Protocol (SDP), Real-Time Protocol/Real-Time Control Protocol (RTP/RTCP), Network Address Translation (NAT), security protocols, quality of service (QoS), and other telephony technologies.
Each of these building blocks have multiple alternatives. For eg, a VoIP service can use any of the widely available signaling technology like Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), H.323, or Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). Similarly there are many different media engines and other types of technologies. Each VoIP service provider uses its own set of technologies to present the most cost effective and service.
Because of these multiple options of choosing technology sets, developers can create highly customized VoIP solutions for their firm or service. This versatility is the main benefit of VoIP and is the reason why it still is the most used internet communication technology.
Connecting vs. clashing
WebRTC makes it feasible for web developers to enable VoIP into their Web-based applications. Since WebRTC is in its early stages of development, it does not include any signaling protocol which leaves this choice and development and integration to the developer. By integrating a signaling protocol into WebRTC, a developer can create a full VoIP soft client on a browser.
WebRTC is an extension of VoIP to the browser world. It can reuse the existing VoIP infrastructure with incremental upgrades. This is good news for VoIP, as adoption of WebRTC only serves to increase overall VoIP proliferation.
Also, WebRTC is ideal for low-cost browser-based contact center applications. VoIP can serve embedded operator-driven VoLTE applications. Consequently, between WebRTC and VoIP, they can support wide range of consumer and enterprise applications.
As with any technology in its early adoption, there is room for improvement. An obvious solution seems to be combining the complementary WebRTC and VoIP technologies, leveraging the optimizations for battery consumption, audio and video interfaces, and the infrastructure already in place for VoIP deployments. There is continual effort to integrate WebRTC in all forms of VoIP, and don’t be surprised if you see more of this happening very soon.
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