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July 2012

Posts from June 2012

June 23 Deadline For Submissions to Invite-Only WebRTC/RTCWEB Congestion Control Workshop

Iab logoHow do we manage network congestion as we move real-time voice, video, chat and data communication into web browsers? How do we make sure browser-based voice/video doesn't overwhelm the local network?

If you've been following the excellent work of the WebRTC/RTCWEB initiative you'll know that developers are already using developer builds of browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to move real-time communications (RTC) directly into web browsers - without using Flash or Java plugins.

It's a powerful step to bake real-time communications into the very fabric of the Web. It stands to open up a zillion new opportunities for innovative uses of voice and video... and can fundamentally disrupt so many aspects of today's telecommunications.

It also stands a chance of completely swamping today's networks with RTC traffic!

So what do we do? How do make sure that browser-based RTC plays nice with other traffic? How do we help it succeed?

Those are the type of topics to be discussed and debated in a "Workshop on Congestion Control for Interactive Real-Time Communication" taking place on Saturday, July 28, 2012, in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the weekend before the start of the week-long IETF 84 standards meeting.

The workshop is free of charge, and even has the possibility for remote participation, but you must be invited to attend. It is a working session and the organizers, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), are requiring all potential attendees to submit a position paper basically explaining why they want to attend. More information and details can be found here:


So if you want to participate in what should be an extremely interesting session, you need to go now and submit a paper for consideration.

It's an extremely important topic - and one that must be addressed for WebRTC/RTCWEB to truly be the innovative force that it can be. I hope you'll consider participating!

P.S. If you can't attend that particular day, the outcome of the event will definitely be discussed on the IETF's rtcweb mailing list (Warning - high traffic!!!). Anyone can join that list so you subscribe if you'd like to monitor what is going on. (Did I mention that the list has a high volume of traffic?)

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How Well Will Microsoft Surface Tablets Work With Skype?

Microsoft surfaceOver the past 24 hours there has been a huge amount of attention in the tech media sphere about Microsoft's announcement of its "Surface" line of tablets. The media frenzy continues today with even more analysis and coverage. It is, of course, a huge step for Microsoft to copy the Apple model and come out with their own hardware, which has to create challenges with all of the other hardware vendors who normally use Microsoft software.

My own immediate question, though, was more mundane:

How well will these Surface tablets work with Skype?

Given that Skype is now part of Microsoft, and that Skype CEO Tony Bates has said the company is focusing on Windows 8, you'd hope it would work well. Throughout all the media frenzy, though, I've seen very little on that... until I scrolled down the "About" page and found this bit (along with the image I'm including in this post):

Surface has not just one, but two cameras. Use the front LifeCam to chat with the people that you care about. The rear-facing LifeCam is angled to 22 degrees so you can flip out the Kickstand and record meetings and events hands-free. Stereo speakers and dual microphones tuned for Skype help you sound like you are right next door.

No further details on that page, nor in their spec sheet, but I'd have to assume that at least the rear-facing camera is an HD camera. Perhaps the front one will be as well. The "dual microphones tuned for Skype" also sounds promising and could in particular help with situations such as that shown in the picture where you are having a group call. The dual microphones could help create a richer audio texture to the call in reflecting where people are in the room.

It's great to see Skype being highlighted in some way, as the tablet form factor lends itself quite well to Skype usage. I've used my iPad for any number of video calls while on the road.

As to "Surface"... we'll have to see. No pricing or availability announced yet, and that will determine a great amount of the traction we'll see for it. As much as I am a great fan of Apple products, and don't expect I'll use one of these Surface tablets anytime soon, it's very good for us as consumers and for the industry in general to see a tablet like this coming out of Microsoft. Competition is good and will only spur the continued evolution that continues to deliver easier and more useful products.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to trying a Surface tablet out? Do you expect Skype will "just work" on the Surface?

More info about Surface:

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Why World IPv6 Launch Is Critical To Preserve The Open Internet

Worldipv6launch 256With yesterday's World IPv6 Launch bringing about the permanent enablement of IPv6 access on thousands of websites around the world (including this one), I recorded a video for the Internet Society's stream of videos about why I see IPv6 as critical to preserve the "open" nature of the Internet.

As I say in the video (below), my big fear is that IPv4 address exhaustion will create a situation where Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will use what is called "carrier-grade NAT (CGN)" or "large-scale NAT (LSN)" to put all their subscribers behind a single public IPv4 address.

The ISPs then become the gatekeepers. They can determine what you will view - or what you will pay to view certain types of content. They could also potentially restrict customer's access to the next great new service... the next Twitter or Facebook, for instance... until that service pays the ISP for access to customers.

It can completely flip the Internet around from one that thrives on "permission-less innovation" where anyone can create any service and make it available to all... to an Internet that is "permission-based" with gatekeepers controlling access at key points.

The migration to IPv6 does not, of course, remove the threat that the Internet very well could move toward a permission-based network... but the move to IPv6 removes IPv4 address exhaustion as an excuse to implement walled gardens.

To me, deploying IPv6 is a critical step to keeping the Internet open to innovation!

To learn more about IPv6 and how you can get started, check out the resources we are listing at the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme.

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