terena logo
23 December 2014
First TF-WebRTC meeting defines scope and targets
Participants at work during the first TF-WebRTC meeting, which was held in Paris on 15 December 2014.

The first meeting of the newly established task force on WebRTC (Web-based real-time communications) was a success. Thirty-five participants and invited speakers representing 13 NRENs (national research and education netwoking organisations) and 12 other organisations, and including individuals active in IETF standardisation and WebRTC development, discussed the latest developments in WebRTC and agreed the scope for the new task force.

The TF-WebRTC meeting was hosted by RENATER in Paris, France on 15 December. It was followed by a commercial WebRTC Conference and Expo that also took place in Paris, for which task force participants received a discount on the fee.

The task force Chair, Mihály Mészáros (NIIF Institute) explained the key roles of the task force:

  • to organise the community and to prepare for the forthcoming GN4 (GÉANT) project in order to maximise the benefit of the funding made available;
  • to be the public face and open community for discussing development directions of integrated Web-based real-time communication services and application for research and education.

Challenges and developments

Jan Meijer (UNINETT) as the appointed leader of the GN4 project's WebRTC task explained the challenges ahead. He described the situation in terms of a shooting range; having to shoot at a moving target with an unknown weapon and without knowing where your hand is. From the outset, the WebRTC task is met with a fast moving target and unknown variables, but, regardless of this challenging environment, the GN4 activity will result in a WebRTC demonstrator and a clear roadmap. Staying with the analogy of the shooting range; the GN4 work will be to choose a weapon and define its characteristics while the task force will help to determine how fast the target is moving.

Peter Szegedi (of GÉANT Association's Amsterdam office (formerly TERENA)) is the appointed leader of the overall GN4 Service Activity (SA8) that includes legacy real-time communications such as videoconference and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as well as multimedia applications such as the planned Open Education Resource portal. He ascertained that WebRTC can’t yet serve as a unified communications tool, mainly because of limited browser support, but that it has all future potential to become the number one technology upon which to build unified Web-based communications tools and applications.

The invited industry speakers outlined the latest developments and standardisation efforts. Standardisation appears rather tedious work, as the main browser developers are trying to convince each other. From the perspective of the startups the future looks brighter, as a lot of things that may contribute to the GN4 WebRTC demonstrator seem to have already been developed. To name a few examples: Janus is a general purpose WebRTC gateway to legacy applications; Jitsi is a multi-partner video bridge; and MashmeTV is a room-based collaboration tool with archiving functionality.

From 16-18 December, the commercial WebRTC Conference and Expo took place and about half of the TF-WebRTC participants made use of their discounted registration fee. The GÉANT Association booth was well visited and served as a discussion platform for experts from several NRENs. A lot of interest was shown in the next TF-WebRTC meeting, both by industry experts and NREN staff. The next meeting is planned for April 2015.

More information

If you would like more detail about this meeting, you can find all presentations on the 1st TF-WebRTC meeting page.

Visit the WebRTC activity page for more general information about the task force.