First post - because even 2k characters aren't always enough

Why now?

I have set up this blog for quite a while, because I could learn so much from very smart people sharing their thoughts on the Internet. I thought back then it could not hurt to add my two cents here and there - from an often different, but hopefully nevertheless interesting perspective.

So far I have been too busy/lazy, but Tsahi finally managed me to react on a recent post of his. I wanted to write a short comment but being an unexperienced writer for these sorts of texts it became somewhat too extensive to comment (UCS has a character limit, please bear with me nevertheless) so the response might as well serve as first post here.

My thoughts on Telco's & WebRTC...

... in the light of Tsahi's blog.

I think the article about "The Tragedy of WebRTC is UC and IMS" is not bad; I second many points Tsahi makes, but I disagree with quite a bit about the concluding statement:

"The worst thing that happened to WebRTC? The fact that we telecom guys have embraced it so closely."

Well, enough at least that I try to comment from my perspective - from within.

I may get Tsahi's points and also know that one needs to exaggerate at times in order to make them, but the conclusion is still too general and too massive for me.

There are people (like myself) in Telecoms, who repeated the need to change for many years, but were often ignored. Sure, "we" sometimes had our "pet projects" and contributed with thoughts different to "Telco mainstream", but that was still a minority, rather tolerated than embraced by the majority of our peers.

Only now is the point where "we" get attention of some sort. Only now is the point, and this is also thanks to recent development, incl. WebRTC to a large extent, where "we" can show and implement use cases ourselves (literally, I mean) and let actions follow words. Before that was hardly possible for some of the discussed topics, at least for those of "us" that had a "normal" day job (not in a large operator's R&D or a Digital unit) and were no professional coders - not to mention having no budgets for these kinds of things.

I personally see a huge benefit in being able to make actual proof of concept implementations for the points I am trying to make myself. And even if upper management or non-tech people get pitches from everywhere and many know WebRTC only as a buzzword (hugely, by the way, stimulated by traditional vendors, which deserve also a big portion of the blame given to the Telcos), it is still rather helpful than harming in my humble opinion.

The web will do what it does best and still bring major disruptions, and I even hope for that to some extent, but by embracing it ourselves and moving both our services and thinking forward I still believe we can do "more good than bad" if you wish.

I tend to feel "guilty" at times - talking about WebRTC as a Telco guy, because of the preconception that coming from a Telco, how can I possibly think about anything but IMS - but the world is not black and white and there are people, and I am talking own experience here and know a few others, too, that have a great vision way beyond telephony.

An important point I have understood - and not only by myself, but being reminded about often by others - is that it makes no sense to leave it all behind just yet.

So why not use opportunities of WebRTC, APIs (massively important also w.r.t. WebRTC but often not mentioned), the shift towards software etc. as something good to improve our products for our customers? Is it a bad thing "we Telco guys embraced WebRTC so closely"?

I don't think so.

Just look at the recent event that Alan organized: TADSummit or TADHack. Both event names have Telecom in it and yet the outputs of TADHack are so amazing. I believe it is because the following points are met:

  • It is not organized by the "traditional Telco people" (the IMS fans if you wish)
  • It is applying new thinking without often biased legacy background of those participating (or those who have that background are smart enough to use it for the better and not to slow things down by musing in an antiquated Telco-world view that does not exist any longer)
  • And last but not least: I do believe the success is also due to the fact that there ARE assets Telco's have and they have been used to build these application (I mean obviously APIs here and the increase of actually understanding and using exposure instead of just standardizing it).

I could agree with you if you would say Telco = Telephony (I mean in the aspect of communications, of course we do MUCH more than that). And often this is true. But not always and it becomes less as we speak (at least that is my hope :). There are many smart people still within the industry that try to change things for the better.

Let's just think beyond telephony, and there is still space for both the Telco generation that comes after the conservatives and the Web, with all pros and cons that come along with it for us.

Some communications parts will die out, some service will reshape massively, many more new will arise in forms we never imagined driven by paradigms we never knew or embraced ourselves (more now on the web than not - that is clear - and also more without any relation or requirement to legacy - clear, too), but I do not believe Telco's are holding anything back or are anyhow "bad for WebRTC".


Not sure I need to point out the obvious, but I am sharing my personal views in this blog. They do not reflect those of my employer.

Sebastian Schumann

Sebastian Schumann

VP Engineering @immmr. Dedicated to the evolution of communication services (VoIP/WebRTC...) beyond legacy & GSMA. Focus on the convergence of Telco + Web.

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First post - because even 2k characters aren't always enough
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