Anyone who has been involved with technology or communication has probably heard of SIP and WebRTC. The former has become established as the major standard for VoIP while the latter is in the process of being standardized for real-time communication through web browsers. For the layperson, it is easy enough to get confused between the two and quite a few people even wonder if one is replacing the other.

The reality is that WebRTC and SIP enjoy a complementary relationship and are not in contention. To understand the relationship between WebRTC and SIP, it is important to know what each does (and does not). WebRTC is an open source project started by Google to enable real-time communication between users using nothing more than their browser. Though this was possible without WebRTC, it was necessary to download proprietary plug-ins or use Flash.

The major problem with this approach is that not all plug-ins work on every operating system. Downloading unknown software from the Internet has security implications and many users have gotten malware and spyware from compromised websites while trying to install plug-ins. Though Flash is considered fairly standard on desktop operating systems, it is not available on mobile devices which means that applications which depend on it cannot work on phones and tablets. Since browsers work everywhere, WebRTC takes advantage of it to support communication across any device.

SIP – which stands for Session Initiation Protocol – is a signaling protocol widely used for VoIP. SIP makes it possible for devices to signal each other before communication can even start. SIP is what allows a device to answer a call from another user, handle multiple calls, put a call on hold and end the session. SIP is not connected with media transfer in any way and multimedia is actually handled by SDP or the Session Description Protocol.

The reality is that WebRTC and SIP can actually work together. WebRTC does not actually specify the signaling protocol to be used and in some situations SIP is the ideal solution. On the other hand, SIP uses SDP to handle multimedia which is the same protocol that is used by WebRTC. In many cases, WebRTC can serve as the user interface for SIP since browsers are not widely used as SIP endpoints.

It is evident that though WebRTC and SIP are used in the same field, their strengths and weaknesses complement each other and they are not competitors. Rather than trying to pick a winner, organizations or developers should concentrate on finding ways to integrate them.

Source by Bhagwad Park


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