I was talking with our old friend Philipp Hancke and discussing how it could be possible that 12% of the WebRTC calls were failing. This number came as a surprise to us as, based on our reports, the number of failures is significantly lower when it comes to OpenTok calls, even though the exact numbers depend on the specific use case you have.
So, we decided to grab some data and try to prove that WebRTC, at least in our platform, is doing a much better job.
For those who might not know (and are still interested in the topic?) ORTC, Object RTC, is an initiative that was started one year ago by a group of people who were not comfortable with the approach taken for the design of the WebRTC APIs. This group recently published the first official draft of an alternative API including support from very relevant people from Google and Microsoft.
In spite of limited specification of anything beyond one-to-one audio and video calls in WebRTC, one of the most popular usages of this technology today is multiparty video conference scenarios. Don’t think just about traditional meeting rooms. There are different use cases beyond meeting rooms, including e-learning, customer support, or real time broadcasting. In each case, the core capability is being able to distribute the media streams from multiple sources to multiple destinations. So… if you are a service provider how can you implement a multi-party topology with WebRTC endpoints?
In the last year we’ve witnessed VP8 proponents and H.264 proponents debate which codec should become “official” for WebRTC. The main points of contention? Licensing fees associated with H.264 make it unaffordable for a non-profits like Mozilla to support. In addition, VP8 isn’t compatible with existing and legacy video conferencing platforms which are typically built to support H.264.
We saw Google draw a line in the sand early on by announcing the “perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable” licensing of VP8. In addition, they recently moved their flagship video conferencing product, Google Hangouts, on to VP8.
Yesterday, Cisco unexpectedly announced that they will release an open-source version of the H.264 codec. The open-source version will include a free downloadable binary module that can be integrated into any application. All without the cost of licensing the codec . This is a strategic precursor to the IETF #88 next week where a vote will take place about the MTI (mandatory to implement) video codec for WebRTC, with the dominant front-runners being VP8 and H264.