Will Facebook Be Your Next Phone Company?

November 14th, 2014

It’s not as preposterous as it might sound. There are some groundbreaking disruptions coming that could change the telecommunications landscape as we know it. The key disruptor is the emerging WebRTC Open Project. 1

Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) is an open source project, led by Google that seeks to embed real-time communications capabilities in Web browsers without the need for a plugin.

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) working groups and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are collaborating to develop WebRTC standards for signaling, protocols and API schemas. WebRTC is fully enabled in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera browsers. Last month Microsoft joined Google and others in support of the ORTC (Object Real-time Communications) API for WebRTC, opening up real-time communications development for Internet Explorer.

The standards will enable developers to embed real-time communications, including voice and video communications into any cloud, web or mobile application using simple Java Script APIs and HTML5. We’re already seeing a raft of new technologies being developed by startups and established companies. Use cases include consumer-facing cloud services like Facebook and LinkedIn that could serve as directories where people can establish communications links with others. There are also areas for enterprises to embed rich communications in their business and customer service applications.

Bypassing the Public Switched Network?

WebRTC will enable individuals to establish real time communication sessions without the need for a federation service such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Individuals can search, find and point their browser at the server of the person they’d like to establish a peer-to-peer connection with. Moreover, the communication doesn’t have to be voice only. It will be contextual and can include video, content sharing, browsing history, business transactions, games and more. The possibilities are limitless.

The impact on company contact centers, as one example, will be rapid and significant. The majority of contact center interactions are typically preceded by a web site visit, which is where WebRTC functions will be implemented. If each web page has a real-time communications object, the flow from the web information structure into the contact center workflows can be tightly integrated.

In the case of the healthcare industry, when a patient calls their doctor’s office, a healthcare provider could pull up the patient’s record to see medical history while assessing the person’s condition via a video call.

The very notion of a phone number will become obsolete. A WebRTC-enabled system will be able to identify a person based on a corporate web site listing, Facebook or, LinkedIn. Communicating with that person will be as simple as clicking a button in a browser.

WebRTC will enable Masergy to extend its global UCaaS communications services beyond the enterprise. Today, we offer high definition voice, video, messaging, presence and content to companies, their branch offices and their mobile and remote workers around the globe. With WebRTC, we’ll be able to extend the unified communications (UC) features to companies, their partners and customers over the corporate network or Internet.

And instead of having to include my office phone number, mobile number, email address and social I.D.s on my business card and email signature, all I’ll need to provide is my name. UCaaS, using WebRTC, will unify all my various “addresses” in a single communications profile.

Jody Gilliam

With 15+ years of experience developing content-focused marketing strategies for technology companies, Jody crafts thought leadership articles and develops research ideas to support Masergy’s marketing initiatives. Her background in journalism serves her well, as she works closely with industry analysts and Masergy’s top leaders to publish engaging content. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Southwestern University and her master’s degree in digital marketing from the University of Denver.