Posts categorized "Internet"

Don't Miss Friday's Live VUC Call! - Martin Geddes on "Rethinking Broadband and Voice"

What are you doing tomorrow, Friday, December 6, 2013, at 12noon US Eastern (1700 UTC)? Would you like to join in to what should be an excellent conversation about the future of broadband networks, IP communications, telecom, etc.? If so, make plans to join the VoIP Users Conference (VUC) call happening live at 12 noon where the guest will be the ever-interesting Martin Geddes. The topic will be "Rethinking broadband and voice: Network Science and Hypervoice" and should prompt some vigorous discussion!

I've known Martin for many years now and have been a great fan of his analysis and writing ever since back in the days of his "Telepocalypse" blog. He's truly a great thinker in the space and is also quite an enjoyable and fun speaker to listen to. We know each other well from the early days of VoIP blogging as well as the conference circuit, and I regularly read his email newsletter and other great content he puts out. He's very active on Twitter as well.

Having said all that, I do have some fundamental disagreements with some of what he is advocating these days. I wrote about some of this disagreement last year and he and I had a good conversation both in the comments to that post and in some private exchanges.

Now, I very much agree with much of what he calls "Hypervoice" and where he sees voice going. Where we disagree is about the broadband component. This is the part that Randy outlines in the VUC page as:

He will outline some (controversial) answers that suggest we’re heading down a dead end and should consider a different technical and commercial approach.

It should be a fun conversation and I'm very much looking forward to the group discussion with Martin!

You can join the fun, too! If you want to just simply watch and listen, you can:

If you want to join in to the actual discussion, you can call in via:
  • Skype audio: +990009369991484768
  • SIP:[email protected]
  • PSTN (phone) international numbers:

Regardless of whether you are just listening or planning to participate, it's always a good idea to join the #vuc IRC channel on More info and a web interface to IRC can be found on the VUC site.

If you can't join in live, the session will be recorded in both audio and video form. You'll be able to find the archive on the VUC page and on the Google+ event page.

Please do join us! It should be a great conversation!

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Two Years At The Internet Society

Deploy360 300It rather staggers my mind that it was two years ago today, on September 19, 2011, that I began work for the Internet Society (a.k.a. "ISOC"). Longtime readers and friends may remember my impassioned (and naturally long) post at the time, "Ch-changes - Taking A New Job At The Internet Society To Join The Fight For The Open Internet".

Two years later that passion has only grown stronger! The events of recent months with the massive Internet surveillance disclosures have only reinforced the need for organizations like the Internet Society to be out there doing what they can to preserve the open character of the Internet.

Whether it is the excellent work on leading Internet technologies - and support for the IETF... the incredible work of our public policy team ... or the great work going on to to expand access to the Internet in regions where there is limited connectivity... or the global work of our chapters helping at a local and regional level... or the programs to develop the next generation of Internet leaders... or the many, many other activities going on around the globe... it's been an absolute pleasure to be a staff member for the Internet Society and I look forward to many more years ahead!

For me, being involved with the creation of the Deploy360 Programme has been an amazing experience. Working on Deploy360 has enabled me to unite my writing and communication skills with my passion for and knowledge of technologies such as DNS, IPv6 and routing technologies - as well as my enjoyment of social media as a way of distributing content and engaging in conversations. Plus, I've had a chance to continue my work with WordPress and so many other social tools.

I've had the opportunity to work with an outstanding team ... and I've had a chance to meet some of the most amazing people all around the world. With Deploy360 our goal is to find out what challenges people are having with deploying IPv6, DNSSEC and routing technologies - and then find or create the appropriate resources to answer those challenges and help people overcome those issues. To do that, you have to go out and meet people... to talk to to them... to hear their questions and to ask them questions.

And so there is this exquisite irony that someone who works for the Internet Society winds up spending an insane amount of time on airplanes traveling to places all around the world to meet with people responsible for deploying these open Internet protocols. And sometimes it's admittedly a bit absurd... such as the trip to Singapore where I spent more time in airplanes traveling there and back then I did actually on the ground in Singapore! (I was only there about 36 hours.)

But it's the people that make the travel worth it! I've met incredible people doing great work to keep the Internet open in so many different places... and in places that quite honestly I would never have even imagined that I'd wind up going! Sure, I've traveled through North America and Europe, but I mean... Russia? (see also: my thoughts on walking in Red Square) China? South Africa? India? Colombia? Poland? Singapore? Brazil? It's been a privilege to be in those places and meet these people doing such great work.

I hope that in some small way I've been able to help them with their efforts. I've certainly learned from what they are doing... and that's been fed directly back into what we're doing within the Deploy360 Programme.

Two years into the role there is still a great amount of work to do... we have content roadmaps that outline MANY documents we want to either find or create... we have new topics that we want to add to the site... we have code we want to help get created... we have new best current operational practices to help document... we have other groups we want to engage with...

The two years seem to have flown by rather quickly - it's been rather a whirlwind ... but I'm looking forward to where the next two years go. Lots to do - and the challenges ahead for the open nature of the Internet are only going to get tougher and more demanding!

I know I haven't been writing here on DisruptiveTelephony as much as I used to... but I'm hoping to do a bit more in the time ahead. Much of my writing these days is on the Deploy360 blog and sometimes over on CircleID. You can always track my writing via my site... or of course follow me on any of the social networks.

Thanks for all the support and help that so many of you have given me over these past two years - and I look forward to working with so many more of you in the months and years ahead!

P.S. One great way you can help is to join the Internet Society to stay up-to-date on current issues affecting the Internet - membership is free for individuals. You can also subscribe to my infrequent email newsletter where I hit many of these topics.

Audio commentary related to this post can be found at:

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Further Thoughts on the Google Voice / Google+ Hangouts Integration

Google hangoutsMy post this week about Google Voice ringing into Google+ Hangouts generated a good bit of commentary, not only on the original post but also out on Hacker News, Reddit, Google+ and other areas. Given the range of responses, I thought I'd reply to a couple of points and also expand on some further related topics. So here goes...

"DUH! This is nothing new/disruptive. You could do it forever with GTalk/Gmail!"

A common response was to point out to me that Google Voice had been integrated with GoogleTalk / GMail for quite some time and so this integration was really nothing new.

Okay, fair enough. Point taken.

I'll admit that I never keep GMail open in a web window and so while I do recall that this integration was there in the past, I never personally used it.

Similarly, in Google+, I've taken to logging out of the GoogleTalk/chat sidebar because I found it was sucking up CPU cycles on my Mac. For whatever reason, the new Hangouts sidebar doesn't seem to consume as much CPU cycles and so I've left it running there.

So yes, the integration may have been there in the past and now it is there in Hangouts - and people like me are actually now noticing it. :-)

Ringing G+ Hangouts BEFORE Ringing Other Devices

There were a couple of comments that it seemed like calls to a Google Voice number rang the Google+ Hangouts first and then rang the other devices connected to the GV number. In my own testing there does seem to be about a 3-second delay between when the call starts ringing in Google+ Hangouts and when it starts ringing on my cell phone and Skype. Now, this may be a fact of Google giving priority to their own application - or it may just be an architectural fact that when they fork the call out to the different numbers it is faster to connect to their own service while the calls to my cell and my Skype numbers have to go through various PSTN gateways. Either way, there does seem to be a degree of delay before all devices ring.

Delay In Answering

A couple of people noted that there was a delay from the time you hit "Answer" to when the call was actually established. I've noticed this, too, although not consistently. I think part of it may be with starting up the Hangouts component inside of your browser - particularly with getting the video going, since that seems to be required for the Hangouts component. It may also be just the paths through whatever systems Google is using. It's certainly something to monitor.

Google Voice Call Does Not Ring The Hangouts App on iOS

In my own testing, I found a curious omission. When I call in on my Google Voice number, it does not ring on my Hangouts app running on my iPad. It rings Hangouts on my web browser... but nothing happens in the mobile app. Now, my iPhone rings - but that is because it is also connected to the Google Voice account. I didn't try removing that number from Google Voice and then seeing if the Hangouts app on the iPhone would ring. At least for the iPad, nothing happens. It would be great if this did work so that I could receive the calls on that mobile device.


Multiple people pointed out that my final remark about maybe some day getting SIP support was probably unrealistic given Google "dropping" XMPP support. I was admittedly away on vacation and at a conference last week and so I missed this point in all the announcement about Hangouts coming out of Google I/O. I wrote about this yesterday, though: Did Google REALLY Kill Off All XMPP/Jabber Support In Google+ Hangouts? It Still Seems To Partially Work

Although, as pointed out in a comment on Google+, this "partial" XMPP support may just be a factor of the continued GoogleTalk support - and may fade away when Google finally pulls the plug on that.

This is definitely an area where it would be helpful if Google could provide a few clarifications.

That's all I have right now for a quite update and response to points. Thanks for all the great comments and I do look forward to seeing where Google is going with all of this.

You can also listen to an audio version of this post:

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Did Google REALLY Kill Off All XMPP/Jabber Support In Google+ Hangouts? It Still Seems To Partially Work

Google hangoutsDid Google really kill off all of their support for XMPP (Jabber) in Google+ Hangouts? Or is it still there in a reduced form? Will they be bringing back more support? What is really going on here?

In my excitement yesterday about Google Voice now being integrated with Google+ Hangouts, I missed a huge negative side of the new Hangouts change that is being widely reported: the removal of support for the XMPP (Jabber) protocol and interoperability with third-party clients.

But yet a few moments ago I did have a chat from an external XMPP client (Apple's "Messages" app) with Randy Resnick who received the message in a Google+ Hangout. I opened up a Google+ window in my browser and I could see the exchange happening there as well. Here's a side-by-side shot of the exchange in both clients:

Googleplusxmppinterop 450

So what is going on here?

Reports Of Google Removing XMPP

This issue has been widely reported in many of the tech blogs and sites. Matt Landis covered this issue very well in his post: Hangouts Won’t Hangout With Other Messaging Vendors: Google’s New Unified Messaging Drops Open XMPP/Jabber Interop which then generated long threads on Reddit and Slashdot.

The Verge in their lengthy story about Google+ Hangoutscontains this statement from Google's Nikhyl Singhal:

Talk, for example, was built to help enterprise users communicate better, Singhal says. "The notion of creating something that’s social and that’s always available wasn’t the same charter as we set out with when we created Talk." With Hangouts, Singhal says Google had to make the difficult decision to drop the very "open" XMPP standard that it helped pioneer.

The "Google Talk for Developers" pagealso very clearly states this:

Note: We announced a new communications product, Hangouts, in May 2013. Hangouts will replace Google Talk and does not support XMPP.

A Google+ post by Nikhyl Singhal has generated a large amount of comments (not solely about XMPP) and a post from Google's Ben Eidelson about how Google Messenger will be changed by Hangouts has also received many comments.

There was also a Hacker News thread about the news out of Google AppEngine that apps hosted there would not be able to communicate users of the new Hangouts app via XMPP - and providing a couple of workarounds.

A couple of Google+ threads from Matt Mastracci and Jan Wildeboer are also worth reading as is this note from Daniel Pentecost about how he has lost interop with his clients / customers.

But Is XMPP Support Still There?

I was a bit puzzled, though, by a couple of comments from Google's Ben Eidelson down in one of the G+ threads:

Ben Eidelson
+Thomas Heinen Thanks for your report of the issue. Hangouts supports basic interop with XMPP, so you can-for the time being-continue to use 3rd party clients. It does not work the same way as Talk, and so I believe the issue you're having with the XMPP bridge will not resolve in Hangouts.
Jason Summerfield
+Ben Eidelson So there is still some basic XMPP functionality under the hood? Does this mean that Hangouts will still be able to communicate with federated Jabber servers/clients, at least for now?

Ben Eidelson
+Jason Summerfield Not federated support, but supports interop with XMPP clients. Meaning you can continue to use XMPP clients to log in to Google Talk and those messages will interop with folks on Hangouts.

It was this that prompted me to call up Messages on my Mac, where I am logged in via XMPP to my GMail account, and to initiate a chat with Randy as shown above. We found we could chat perfectly fine. We couldn't initiate a callinto a Google+ Hangout from an external XMPP client - although I'll be honest and say I don't know how well that worked in the past. My own usage of external clients has entirely been for chat.

So What Is The Story?

I don't know. The statement quoted in The Verge's story seems pretty definitive that XMPP has been dropped, as does the message sent to AppEngine developers. It does seem so far that:

  • "Server-to-server" XMPP, used for federation with other servers / services, has been dropped.
  • "Presence" and status messages have been dropped (because the idea seems to be with Hangouts that you just send a message and people will get it either right then or whenever they are next online).
  • Within the Hangouts app, you can only connect to people with Google+ accounts, i.e. contacts on external XMPP servers no longer appear.
  • Google hasn't made any clear statements on what exactly is going on.

But is this partial XMPP support only temporary? Will it go away at some point whenever Hangouts fully "replaces" GoogleTalk? Or is this a communication mixup? (As happened recently with Google's announcement of DNSSEC support for their Public DNS Service?)

For me the disappointment in all of this is mostly that Google has been one of the largest advocates for the open XMPP protocol and I enjoyed the fact that I could use multiple different chat clients to interact with my GoogleTalk account. I was also very intrigued by the federation that we were starting to see between GTalk and other systems out there via XMPP.

Whereas before Google+ seemed to be an interesting social/messaging backbone to which I could connect many different apps and systems, now Google+ is looking like simply yet another proprietary walled garden - and we don't need more of those!

Hopefully we'll hear something more out of Google soon.

P.S. Here's another interesting viewpoint: Google Hangouts and XMPP – is cloud harming the Internet?

UPDATE: In a comment over on Google+, Daniel Pentecost states that Randy and I were not actually using Hangouts:

Dan, you weren't actually chatting through Hangouts. You were chatting through Google Talk which itself has a bridge into Hangouts. It only works b/c Randy is a Gmail user and still has access to Google Talk in Gmail.

Perhaps that is the case, which again then begs the question of whether this is only a temporary capability until GoogleTalk is shut down.

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WebRTC Passes Huge Milestone In Rewiring The Web - Video Calls Between Chrome and Firefox

WebrtcThis week the WebRTC/RTCWEB initiative passed a HUGE milestone in adding a real-time communications layer to the Web with achieving interoperability between Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Google and Mozilla celebrated with a pair of blog posts:

They also published the video I've embedded below. On the surface, the video doesn't appear terribly exciting: two guys having a basic conversation over video. But consider this:

  • The video conversation was initiated from within web browsers.
  • There were NO plugins used... no Flash, Java or anything else.
  • The entire conversation was securely encrypted.
  • The call used "wideband audio" (also called "HD audio") to provide a much richer experience that far exceeds any kind of conversation you can have on traditional telecom and mobile networks.
  • The call did not have to involve any external telecom networks or services and could have been initiated directly from one browser to the other. (I don't know exactly how they set up this call.)

And perhaps most importantly:

Any web developer can now create this kind of real-time communication using a few lines of JavaScript and other web programming languages.

As I'm said before, WebRTC will fundamentally disrupt telecommunications and add a real-time communications layer to the Internet that is based on open standards and is interoperable between systems. Creating applications that use voice, video and chat is being removed from the realm of "telecom developers" and made truly accessible to the zillions of "web developers" out there.

Congrats to the Google and Mozilla teams... this is a huge step forward for WebRTC!

You can see the video below... and if you are a developer interested in playing with WebRTC further, both the Google and Mozilla blog posts offer pointers to source code. The team over at Voxeo Labs also released a new version of their Phono SDK yesterday with WebRTC support that may be helpful as well.

UPDATE #1: The discussion threads on Hacker News related to the Google and Chrome blog posts make for quite interesting reading and provide many additional links for exploration:

UPDATE #2: Over at Forbes, Anthony Wing Kosner weighed in with a similar piece and proved he can write far more poetic headlines than mine: Google And Mozilla Strike The Golden Spike On The Tracks Of The Real Time Web

UPDATE #3: And over on No Jitter, Tsahi Levant-Levi gets the "wet blanket" award for dampening enthusiasm with his post: WebRTC Browser Interoperability: Heroic. Important. And...Expected

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Live Webcast at 8:30am: WCIT Post Mortem with ISOC DC Chapter

ISOC DC ChapterWhat happened with the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) last week in Dubai? In about 25 minutes, at 8:30 US Eastern time, the Internet Society DC Chapter will be hosting a panel discussion doing a "post mortem" on the WCIT event. Details are here:
And you can tune in to the livestream here:

The session will be archived for those who can't attend. It should be a very interesting discussion!

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World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) Starts Today in Dubai

WcitToday is the start of the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. The aim of the conference is to update the "International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs)", a treaty between nations that establishes rules for interoperability and interconnection for telecom between countries.

These ITRs were last updated in 1988... and the world of telecom has changed just a wee bit since then! :-)

Unless you've been asleep or offline for the past few months, you'll know that some of the countries out there are seeking to use this WCIT conference as a way to expand the ITRs to cover the Internet - and to thereby control the Internet more or to impose other business models on the Internet. Obviously a lot of people (myself included) are opposed to the expansion of the ITRs to include more of the Internet and believe that the ITRs should remain focused on the telecommunications interconnection related to the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

This all will play out over the next two weeks in the meetings happening in Dubai that will culminate with a series of votes by the member states. The ITU is a United Nations (UN) entity and so each country gets a vote.

I'll not comment further here about the ITRs and WCIT, except to note that if you want to follow along with what is happening, my colleagues in the Internet Society Public Policy team (of which I am not a part) have been maintaining a site where they are curating news about WCIT:

They've been doing a great job and it's the site that I am using to keep up with what is being said out there about WCIT and the ITU.

That same team also has a great site full of background material about WCIT, the ITRs and other related information - follow the links in the right sidebar for much more material:

The material includes a good background paper on the ITRs that explain a bit about how the ITRs evolved and why they matter. The Internet Society's communications team also has a page up that they will be updating throughout the week with news:

You can expect to see social networks filling up with commentary, too... and I know I'll be watching two Twitter hashtags:

The reality is that true to the title of this blog, the telecommunications industry has been severely disrupted by the Internet. The world of the PSTN has been fundamentally altered by Voice over IP (VoIP), by "Over The Top" (OTT) applications, by SIP trunking... and so many other aspects of Internet-based communications. This WCIT event does provide a chance for all of those who have been victims of this disruption to try to push for changes that will be in their favor. Similarly, all of those wanting to ensure the Internet remains open are fully engaged now, too... and various countries are aligning on both sides.

It shall be an interesting next two weeks...

P.S. Vint Cerf's op-ed on CNN is worth a read on this topic: 'Father of the internet': Why we must fight for its freedom

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Hypervoice - The Fundamental Flaw In The Proposal

MartingeddesI am a huge fan of Martin Geddes, but he and I disagree fundamentally on one key part of what he is now calling "hypervoice".
NOTE: Today's VUC call at 12noon US Eastern will be with Martin discussing his ideas. If you'd like to weigh in on the issue, please join the call. (Unfortunately, I'll be waiting to board a plane home from Mumbai and can't make it... hence this blog post.)

To back up a bit, Martin has always been one of the "big thinkers" in realm of VoIP and telephony/telecom. Way back in mid-2000s when a number of us all started writing about VoIP, Martin's Telepocalypse blog was brilliant. He was always thinking about the "big picture" and drawing connections where they were not already apparent. His work with "Telco 2.0" was excellent and it was no surprise when he went to work for BT looking at their strategy. Now that he is back out on his own as a consultant, I'm a subscriber to his "Future of Communications" email newsletter (subscribe on the sidebar to his site) and enjoy reading his frequent issues.

Recently he gave a closing keynote presentation at the Metaswitch Forum titled "A presentation about Hypervoice" that is available via Slideshare or PDF.

The presentation itself is very well done. In typical Martin style it nicely lays out the history of both telecom and the web and brings them together to talk about what comes next.

I actually agree with almost all of what Martin writes. Much of what he talks about as "hypervoice" I see already happening in so many ways.

But here is where we fundamentally disagree... this slide early on:


That includes the text:

"However, the Internet cannot and never will carry society's real-time communications needs. It is fundamentally unsuited to the job."

Martin's argument, which he has made multiple times before, including in a comment he wrote in response to my post about how WebRTC will disrupt real-time communications, is that the Internet as it exists today cannot provide the level of service that is truly needed for real-time communications. He believes we need to have different classes of service on the Internet and separate "flows" of communications. He comes back to this point later in his "Hypervoice" slide deck:

Hypervoice polyservicenetworks 1

This is where he and I part ways. As I said in my own response to Martin's comment to my earlier post:

Martin, yes, I've read your newsletters on this point and while I understand the concern I'm not ready to say that the plain old Internet can't deal with the contention. Back in the early 2000's I was the product manager for Mitel's "remote teleworker" product and there was great concern from the traditional telecom folks within Mitel about this idea that we were going to put an IP phone out at some random point on the Internet where there was no QoS or anything. In fact, some folks wanted us to say that it had "cell-phone voice quality" so that we wouldn't set high expectations about voice quality. The reality was that through appropriate codecs, jitter buffers and other technologies the connections almost always worked and almost always had outstanding quality (usually FAR better than cellphones).

The other reality is that we've seen OTT providers like Skype and others providing excellent services that work the vast majority of the time. We're seeing new and improved codecs coming into the market. We're seeing new traffic shaping technologies. The list goes on...

If the (brief) history of the Internet has shown us anything, it is that the Internet's capacity to adapt and change is boundless. We'll see what happens in the time ahead.

And no, I haven't written off the telcos as having a role in real-time comms. I just don't know that the "role" they may have will necessarily be the one they would like to have! ;-)

I believe fundamentally that the "open" Internet can and will adapt to the needs of carrying real-time communications. I would argue that it already has in so many ways... and it will change even more as we continue to move more and more real-time comms onto the Internet, particularly with WebRTC and other emerging technology.

And yes, you might expect me to say this as a passionate advocate for an open Internet, but I firmly believe this:

We do NOT need separate layers of the Internet based on class of service.

That, to me, is a dangerous path. I want to continue to see an Internet where all nodes are treated equally ... and where real-time communications can work for all.

Martin and I will probably have to agree to disagree on this. It's doubtful he can convince me nor I can convince him.

What do you think? Do we need different layers of the Internet? Or can the Internet adapt without that? Leave a comment here... or join in to today's VUC call and comment there.

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Slides: How The Hidden Secret of TCP/IP Affects Real-time Communications

Recently at Voip2day + ElastixWorld in Madrid 2012, Olle E Johansson gave a great presentation outlining where we are at with telecom and VoIP in 2012 - and where we need to go! Olle is a long-time, passionate and tireless advocate for the open Internet, IPv6, SIP and standards and interoperability. I've known Olle for years via Asterisk-related issues, via the VUC calls and via work on SIP over IPv6.

This presentation (slides available) really hits a number of key points about where we are at now:

In particular I was struck by his slides 24-28 that strike the same theme I've been writing about across multiple blogs, namely the way we are reversing the "open Internet" trend and retreating back inside walled gardens of messaging:

This is what customers wanted to avoid

He goes on to walk through what happened with SIP and how the protocol evolved - and evolved away from interoperability. His conclusion is that we as customers need to take back control, avoid vendor lock-in and demand interoperability.

He also points people over to his "SIP 2012" effort where he is undertaking to compile a list of what really defines "SIP" in 2012, i.e. more than just RFC 3261. (I'll note he's looking for feedback on these ideas.)

All in all an excellent presentation... and yes indeed we all collectively do need to "WAKE UP" and demand better solutions!

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Video: What Is WebRTC/RTCWeb All About? How Does WebRTC Work?

Do you want to understand what WebRTC / RTCWEB is all about and why so many people are passionate about its potential for extending real-time communications (voice, video, chat, data-sharing, etc.) into web browsers?

I recently wrote about some of the larger issues of how WebRTC will disrupt telecom, but in this video, "RTCWeb Explained", Cullen Jennings, one of the co-chairs of the IETF's RTCWEB working group, dives down into the technical details to explain how it all works and what the various different components of of the solution are. I particularly like how Cullen covered some areas like "identity" that I haven't seen stressed as much in other pieces about WebRTC. The video comes in at about 39 minutes and is well worth viewing:

For more information, I've put together a page about the broader WebRTC / RTCWEB initiative with links to relevant resources.

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