Huawei gives a nod to WebRTC with new RCS exposure gateway offering

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Huawei has announced a new rich communications gateway based on Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC), claiming an industry first.

WebRTC is a Firefox and Google-backed technology promising real-time voice and video communications delivered at a good quality embedded into the internet browser, with the controls hosted in the cloud.

In theory, this could give OTT players an edge over operators as they can easily spread their services.

Huawei has created a gateway to bridge the web with telecoms, enabling WebRTC’s capabilities together with the RCS framework, which already offers features such as IM, file transfers, location and video sharing.

However, the vendor wants to go beyond just offering voice and video, enabling operators to extend their subscriber base on the web and start offering legacy services via the desktop or mobile, meaning that someone using any web terminal could become a potential new subscriber.

“The WebRTC gateway that we’re announcing this time is a successful application of Huawei’s experience in real-time communications. As the industry’s first WebRTC based rich communications capability exposure gateway, it opens the RCS capabilities to 3rd parties via the web,” said Luo Song, CTO of Huawei Core Network product line.

“The easy-to-use JavaScript based high service abstraction and encapsulation interface enables any developer without any telecommunication background to develop real-time communications enabled applications quickly, thus shortening the time-to-market greatly.”

According to Informa analyst Pamela Clark-Dickson, combining WebRTC with RCS is an interesting announcement that other vendors will surely be quick to ape.

“What WebRTC can do is help operators find more uses for the RCS services, make it easier for them to start building a business use case around these services,” she said.

“It does make sense on the point of view that you've got the GSMA-led RCS service. WebRTC can make it even more compelling, but this will only happen once operators have RCS up and running.

“Maybe having video and voice available through the browser might encourage operators to work a bit faster to roll it out, but what might help MOs more is the current trend of providing hosted RCS capabilities that we're starting to see via other companies such as Vodafone. “

Dean Bubley, analyst with Disruptive Analysis is more sceptical given there a lot of “issues outstanding” about device support, but agrees that Web RTC could improve the RCS proposition.

“For a few operators that are capable of engaging closely with developers, exposing RCS capabilities via WebRTC might make sense – more sense than RCS as a mobile app, which is especially pointless and will never be ubiquitous despite the rhetoric,” he said.

“However developers have a lot of choice, so operators will have to clearly articulate why an RCS/WebRTC API has particular value.”