In our ongoing series of putting technologies head to head, we jump on the WebRTC vs. VoLTE bandwagon and offer our 2 cents worth.
The Wikipedia definitions for both technologies are hazy and too simplistic for us so we wanted to clear them up.
WebRTC refers to Web Real-Time Communications.
It is a free, open technology project that solves incompatibilities for real-time communications.
It has grown to be an industry and standards effort to provide both browsers and mobile applications with Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities such as P2P video, audio voice, and data communication via simple APIs.
Depending on your browser and mobile platforms support for WebRTC, the major components below allow for access to camera and mic to capture media, set up audio/video calls and allow endpoints to share data via P2P connections.
Take a look below at how Ericsson’s WebRTC enabled browsers captures a video call via mobile devices.
The popular Tango app which has 70M MAUs, also has a free calling feature called Tango Out, with WebRTC powering their App-App and App-PSTN calls for all their users.
VoLTE refers to Voice Over LTE (Long-Term Evolution).
It is an attempt to create a standardized system to transfer voice calls over the LTE data network instead of common voice networks.
It is specific to voice and slated to be the new generation of making calls over a mobile operator.
VoLTE allows more bandwidth than previously and there are 3x more voice and data capacity than 3G UMTS and up to 6x more than 2G GSM.
The infographic from Ericsson below shows the process of using VoLTE with signaling and packets to reach another VoLTE enabled device.
VoLTE’s availability is operator dependent and while AT&T and Verizon have enabled VoLTE to VoLTE connections between their respective customers, the majority of carriers globally have either trialled or are still in the process of planning for it.
There are 266.5 Million internet users in the U.S., making up 84.2% of the population, with a total of 130,000 4G mobile subscribers, so the potential is clearly skewed towards using end-to-end device connections as opposed to those that are specifically on a 4G network.
This makes WebRTC potentially explosive with its usage, but with a majority of mobile phones in the future also likely to support VoLTE, the issue becomes greatly diminished.
If you were looking for a WebRTC vs. VoLTE, better or worse comparison, it doesn’t exist. We did a head to head, but there is a room for both technologies to be used together.
VoLTE will be part of an operator’s offering (carrier technology) and used for basic voice and video calls, while WebRTC (3rd party) will be integrated into communications applications and value-added services.
The key difference is that VoLTE is out of developers hands. Devs can develop WebRTC at this moment, while VoLTE looks to be long term tech/infrastructure project that will take years before reaching all interoperability for carriers.
There is the off situation where making a WebRTC point-to-point VoIP call actually competes with a VoLTE call, but WebRTC is focused on apps across devices.
A more relevant head on fight would be to compare WebRTC and RCS, which we will feature real soon…
|Definition||Web Real-Time Communications||Voice over LTE network|
|Protocol||Internet Protocol||Internet Protocol|
|Design||Ground Up||Top Down|
|Device||Platform and Device independent: Web, Mobile||Modern Smartphones|
|Coverage||Internet Data||Cellular 4G still rolling out|
|Infrastructure||Open Source and Free||Operator Dependent|
|Advantages||Simple Experience, Adaptive to network conditions (VoIP/SIP/PSTN)||Efficient, 100% packet-based, Rich User Experience|
|Challenges||No Standardized Signalling Layer||Require Adoption Among Carriers, Home Network vs Roaming, High Infrastructure Investment|
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