Predictions for Unified Communications in 2014, Part Two

WebRTC, Net Neutrality and Mobile UC Trends

We’ll wrap up our annual predictions for the coming year with a look at WebRTC, the possible implications of a net neutrality ruling, and mobile UC trends.  Beginning with WebRTC, we admit that the support and momentum for this protocol in 2013 took us a bit by surprise, so it escaped our predictions last time around.  This year, we expect WebRTC standards to be ratified, so that will put pressure on bystanders like Microsoft to either support, or justify why they cannot.  We predict that Microsoft will eventually embrace WebRTC, although it may take more than a ratified standard to move it into motion. 

Voice and video communications are the two most likely beneficiaries of WebRTC, and we do expect to see multiple products for consumer to consumer and (to a lesser extent) business to consumer apps and content that take advantage of WebRTC in 2014.  However, WebRTC will remain a supplement and not a substitute existing business communications protocols, implementations, including SIP-based VoIP systems and services.

Sometime early this year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule on net neutrality, deciding whether the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has the authority to require Internet providers to treat all Web traffic the same. If the court rules in favor of the initiatives the FCC has undertaken, it could continue to undermine efforts to offer a “class of service” based Internet tier that allows anyone to pay for guaranteed quality of service on a public Internet connection.  We believe that such a tier could enhance use of video and video conferencing over the Internet by substituting for the usage caps now in place created to restrict heavy video users.  However, while we cannot promise which way the appeals court will rule, we can almost guarantee an appeal to the U. S. Supreme is likely in 2014, and the ultimate decision may be thrust back onto the U. S. Congress to sort out. 

Finally, we share our thoughts on the topic of mobile UC.  The demand for mobile devices to support unified and communication will continue to grow, and we will see some evolutionary advances.  For example, we will see HD voice supported on mobile devices; however, interoperability with landline-based VoIP and even on competing mobile-to-mobile services will be rocky until further work is done in interoperability.  Voice over LTE (VoLTE) will also face interoperability issues with existing UC platforms, requiring a gateway to translate between public and private voice systems. 

When it comes to mobile video, we’re already on record with our predictions that we will see significant growth here, and we think that programs like the “sponsored data” tier introduced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) by AT&T is only a start of disruptive packaging that can further the advance of mobile data. 

And speaking of CES, we’ll cover some CES highlights including the AT&T announcement on sponsored data in our next edition. 

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