WebRTC and where are we heading? Featured interview with Andrew Hutton, the IMTC’s WebRTC Activity Group Co-Chair


A few months ago at a WebRTC Meetup during Enterprise Connect, it became apparent how some key questions often come up relating to WebRTC and its uses.


WebRTC has become a relevant and fast evolving topic in the communications industry and recently, the International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium  (IMTC) updated its WebRTC Activity Group Charter.  With more and more customers interested in learning about its uses, we decided to take this opportunity to interview Andrew Hutton, the IMTC’s Co-chair of the WebRTC AG and understand the IMTC’s integral role moving forward.   The below interview is conducted by Jan Hickisch, IMTC’s VP of Marketing and VP Global Solution Marketing at Unify.



IMTC has released an updated Charter for Web RTC,why was it necessary to revise the AG charter and what are the key drivers for it?


Andy:  The original charter was created in the early days of WebRTC and since then the IMTC role has become clearer as we focus on enterprise use of WebRTC and interoperability with SIP and other protocols. The charter was therefore updated to reflect this focus and also to bring it in to line with terminology used in the IETF/W3C standards bodies.


So what are the top 3 items customers and IMTC members are asking for and how is IMTC going to address those topics?


Andy:  If I had to pick three items then the ones that come immediately to mind and in no particular order are Quality, Reliability, and Security.  The IMTC has a long history in supporting the industry in these areas especially when it comes to interoperability of real-time voice and video and we intend to continue this with WebRTC by holding interoperability events and developing test suites.


What is the status of the WebRTC  / ORTC debate and what does it mean for interoperability?  What benefit can we expect?  Will the next version of WebRTC be compatible with Web RTCV1?


Andy: The W3C membership recently approved an update to the WebRTC Working Group Charter.  The new charter paves the way towards a next version of WebRTC API’s that incorporate the work of the W3C ORTC Community group.   The ORTC and WebRTC API’s have always been interoperable on the media plane – the difference has only to do with the API design.  The next version of WebRTC API’s will see the incorporation of many of the ORTC API capabilities into the mainstream WebRTC API’s, where they will add new capabilities for applications needing more direct control over media parameters.  The new W3C charter contains statements on backwards compatibility; meaning that existing applications developed against the WebRTC 1.0 API’s will continue to function when the next version of the API is introduced.


Besides standardization work, IMTC is engaged in practical interoperability testing.  We just returned from the IMTC SuperOp2015. Can you elaborate a bit about the role of WebRTC at the SuperOp event?


Andy: WebRTC is not like other technologies that the IMTC has traditionally dealt with in that interoperability between WebRTC applications from different vendors is usually not even a requirementHowever many WebRTC applications do require interoperability with devices in other domains such as SIP devices; we also see SIP devices being enhanced with WebRTC like technologies (OPUS, DTLS-SRTP, ICE etc.). During the recent IMTC SuperOp we tested multi-vendor interoperability between a number of SIP devices (Endpoints, Gateways, MCU’s) and WebRTC applications through WebRTC/SIP Gateways.


Andy Hutton is the Head of Standardization at Unify and an active member of both the IETF and W3C WebRTC working groups.  Andy is also a member of the SIP Forum board of directors and the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) Technical Commitee.  At Unify Andy is also part of Circuit architecture team developing WebRTC based collaboration software and platform.  @huttonandy


For more information, visit IMTC’s WebRTC Activity Group here.


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