Access and Feeds

WebRTC: Now Officially a W3C Standard

By Dick Weisinger

WebRTC is a framework for real-time communication (RTC) between browsers that requires no special plug-in to work. It is an open-source API that enables voice and video communication inside browser web pages.

The WebRTC standard was first introduced in 2011 and has gained popularity over the years. As of 2016, there were 2 billion browsers that were enabled to work with WebRTC. But it hasn’t been until this year, 2021, that WebRTC was recognized as a W3C and IETF standard.

Alissa Cooper, IETF Chair, said that “Voice and video over IP revolutionized the way that people communicate around the world. Integrating these technologies into the Web platform has dramatically expanded their reach. Thanks to close collaboration between the IETF and W3C to standardize these technologies. WebRTC has enabled billions of people to connect and engage with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of device or geography.”

The intent of WebRTC is to be a standard capability built into all browsers, whether on mobile or desktop.  The WebRTC API is open source and free, and it’s goal is to be more efficient than any other existing real-time communication technology.  Conferencing and chat are two of the main target types of applications for WebRTC.  The WebRTC API provides basic components for enabling high-quality audio and video communications across the network between two computers.  It exposes network, video, and audio capabilities via JavaScript, allowing developers easy access to include those features within their own browser-based applications.

Huib Kleinhout, product manager at Google, wrote that “the previous generation of browser-based products were built on top of licensed proprietary technology. Various products were built with this technology, including Hangouts. Google then acquired the companies it had been licensing the technology from and made it available as the open source WebRTC project.”

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