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WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is an API definition drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that supports browser-to-browser applications for voice calling, video chat, and P2P file sharing without the need of either internal or external plugins.[1]


In May 2011, Google released an open source project for browser-based real-time communication known as WebRTC.[2] This has been followed by ongoing work to standardise the relevant protocols in the IETF[3] and browser APIs in the W3C.[4]

The W3C draft of WebRTC[5] is a work in progress with advanced implementations in the Chrome and Firefox browsers. The API is based on preliminary work done in the WHATWG.[6] It was referred to as the ConnectionPeer API, and a pre-standards concept implementation was created at Ericsson Labs.[7] The Web Real-Time Communications Working Group expects this specification to evolve significantly based on:

  • Outcomes of ongoing exchanges in the companion RTCWEB group at IETF[8] to define the set of protocols that, together with this document, define real-time communications in Web browsers
  • Privacy issues that arise when exposing local capabilities and local streams
  • Technical discussions within the group, on implementing data channels in particular[9]
  • Experience gained through early experimentation
  • Feedback from other groups and individuals


Major components of WebRTC include:

  • getUserMedia, which allows a web browser to access the camera and microphone and to capture media[10]
  • RTCPeerConnection, which sets up audio/video calls[11]
  • RTCDataChannels, which allow browsers to share data via peer-to-peer[12]

The WebRTC API also includes a statistics function:

  • getStats, which allows the web application to retrieve a set of statistics about WebRTC sessions. This statistics data are being described in a separate W3C document.[13]

As of March 2012, the IETF WebRTC Codec and Media Processing Requirements draft[14] requires implementations to provide PCMA/PCMU (RFC 3551), Telephone Event as DTMF (RFC 4733), and Opus (RFC 6716), along with a number of video codec minimum capabilities. The Peerconnection, Data channels and a media capture browser APIs are detailed in the W3C.

W3C is developing ORTC (Object Real-time Communications) for WebRTC.[15] This is commonly referred to as WebRTC 1.1.


WebRTC is supported in the following browsers.

As of August 2014, Internet Explorer and Safari still lack the native support of WebRTC.[20] Several plugins are available to add the support of WebRTC to these browsers.[21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ How WebRTC Is Revolutionizing Telephony. Blogs.trilogy-lte.com (2014-02-21). Retrieved on 2014-04-11.
  2. ^ "Google release of WebRTC source code from Harald Alvestrand on 2011-05-31". public-webrtc@w3.org. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  3. ^ Charter of the Real-Time Communication in WEB-browsers (rtcweb) working group
  4. ^ "WebRTC 1.0: Real-time Communication Between Browsers". W3.org. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  5. ^ "WebRTC 1.0: Real-time Communication Between Browsers". Dev.w3.org. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  6. ^ "Introduction — HTML Standard". Whatwg.org. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  7. ^ "Beyond HTML5: Peer-to-Peer Conversational Video | Ericsson Labs". Labs.ericsson.com. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  8. ^ "Rtcweb Status Pages". Tools.ietf.org. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  9. ^ "draft-jesup-rtcweb-data-protocol-00 - WebRTC Data Channel Protocol". Tools.ietf.org. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  10. ^ "Media Capture and Streams: getUserMedia". W3C. 2013-09-03. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  11. ^ "WebRTC: RTCPeerConnection Interface". W3C. 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  12. ^ "WebRTC: RTCDataChannel". W3C. 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2014-01-15. 
  13. ^ "Identifiers for WebRTC's Statistics API". W3C. 2014-09-29. 
  14. ^ "draft-cbran-rtcweb-codec-02 - WebRTC Codec and Media Processing Requirements". Tools.ietf.org. 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-09-12. 
  15. ^ "W3C ORTC (Object Real-time Communications) Community Group". 
  16. ^ Firefox Notes - Desktop. Mozilla.org (2013-06-25). Retrieved on 2014-04-11.
  17. ^ Dev.Opera. My.opera.com. Retrieved on 2014-04-11.
  18. ^ Firefox Notes - Desktop. Mozilla.org (2013-09-17). Retrieved on 2014-08-04.
  19. ^ http://www.openwebrtc.io/bowser/
  20. ^ "Internet Explorer Web Platform Status and Roadmap". Microsoft. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  21. ^ Priologic Releases First Open Source WebRTC Plugin for Internet Explorer
  22. ^ http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11844308.htm

External links[edit]