Tsahi Levent -Levi
Tsahi Levent-Levi is an Independent Consultant for WebRTC and Product Manager at Amdocs Tsahi Levent-Levi has 15 years of experience in...
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Tsahi Levent -Levi | April 30, 2014 |


What's Standards-Based Video Conferencing Anyway?

What's Standards-Based Video Conferencing Anyway? How much of a system needs to be based on standards to be considered “standards based?”

How much of a system needs to be based on standards to be considered “standards based?”

I received an interesting email this week that read: "Are you currently set up with some sort of standards-based system for video conferencing?"

The question itself exemplifies the inability of current players to understand the shift that WebRTC is bringing with it--and here, WebRTC is just a catalyst for a larger industry trend in communications.

I have WebRTC on my browser. I've got Skype installed and Hangouts as well.

Between these three services, do I need any "standards-based system for video conferencing" to talk to anyone?

With a "standards-based system for video conferencing," it takes 15 minutes or more to set up a call (assuming you know who the relevant IT person in the company is, have him on your good-side, and know how to use these systems with their weird remote controls). I can't see how this works for anything besides internal company conference calls.

I'll stop whining here, and ask a better question: What doesn't "standards based" really mean here?

WebRTC is a standard itself (or will be soon enough). It also uses SRTP--a well-established standard.

Skype and Hangouts also use standards. At the very least, they both run over IP, probably with SRTP or an RTP variant. Skype uses SILK--a standard. Hangouts uses voice codecs that are standardized.

Those who whine that you can't make a call from Skype to a video conferencing room system? Remember that you can't do a video call from company A to company B with video conferencing without an effort that is far larger than just using Skype--or WebRTC--or Hangouts.

Next time you ask me about my standards-based video conferencing system, make sure you understand what you are proposing--to use something that is effectively a proprietary communications tool.


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