Internet of Things Operations: IoT Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Internet of Things (IoT) Operational Support System (OSS) areas are many and varied, ranging from device provisioning and management to data capture and surveillance about devices, network, etc.  IoT OSS is part of IoT Operations, which includes key functional areas such as IoT Data Management.

One key emerging area for IoT OSS is Service Level Agreements (SLA).

In the most basic terms, an SLA represents a description of the service being provided and how they shall be provided in terms of meeting certain important factors including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Consequences and Expectations (e.g. when SLA expectations are not met)
  • Exception Clauses or Constraints (e.g. when SLA does not apply such as force majeure)
  • Monitoring and Reporting SLA (including means by which communication shall occur)
  • Processes and Procedures (such as for reporting issues/problems)
  • Reliability (e.g. percentage uptime and other measurements)
  • Responsiveness (e.g. how quickly various issues will be resolved)

It is important to note that the above SLA factors are all of a general nature and that SLAs within the IoT universe will have their own set of very specific issues.

What are the market drivers for IoT SLAs?

SLAs will become increasingly important in the IoT ecosystem, especially as the need for inter-system orchestration and mediation reaches its third stage, which will encompass a high degree of inter-company and inter-industry data exchange.

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Market Drivers for IoT Service Level Agreements

IoT SLAs will have a profound impact across many industry verticals in terms of productivity gains and other important metrics.

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Internet of Things (IoT) Service Level Agreements: Market Outlook and Forecast for IoT SLAs 2017 – 2022 evaluates SLAs in IoT including focus areas, expectations, and market outlook. The report includes global and regional IoT SLA forecasts by industry vertical, segment, and type of SLA for 2017 – 2022.

All purchases of Mind Commerce reports includes time with an expert analyst who will help you link key findings in the report to the business issues you’re addressing. This needs to be used within three months of purchasing the report.

More Information

For more information and other topics see the Mind Commerce Knowledge Center

For Mind Commerce IoT SLA report(s), see: http://tinyurl.com/IoTSLAs

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Skills, Knowledge, and Experience for Successful IoT Engineers and Managers

There is also a strong need for companies to attract, develop, and retain the best and brightest talent to meet their needs now and for the next ten years, which will be a key period in the evolution of both ICT and enterprise systems.  This is especially true for the Internet of Things (IoT).

What are the skills, knowledge areas, and background necessary for engineers and managers to have a successful career in IoT?

There are wide number of technologies that gain benefit from the IoT or support it. There will be many technologies involved in the deployment and management of IoT including IoT Operational Support Systems (OSS) areas as well as the key areas for IoT Operations such as identity, security, and privacy. These technologies will become increasingly important as IoT evolves to become more main-stream across various industry verticals.

From an overall perspective, IoT is driven by a few key developments including:

  • Migration from IPv4 to IPv6
  • Significantly lower sensor and wireless modem costs
  • Availability of intelligent software to manage IoT networks
  • Creation of standards that accelerate adoption and internetwork communications

Some of the strategic challenge areas that Mind Commerce sees in IoT can be solved by an increasingly skilled workforce.  A sampling of these areas include the following:

  • Smart Internet: Need to have a “Smart Internet” to route packets differently than today’s internet. Some packets are very high priority.
  • IoT Platforms: IoT Platforms can be defined as a convergence of software and hardware solutions to interconnect “things” (people, things, objects, spaces, processes, data, etc.) in the real world and the virtual world on the Internet, and make the “things” communicate and interact with each other. There is a need for IoT platforms for a variety of purposes including IoT Mediation.
  • IoT Federation: A federated database represents a system in which several databases emerge to function as a single entity. For a robust IoT ecosystem, data should come from multiple sources including telecom, enterprise, and social networks.  This creates the need for a point of aggregation and even federation between data storage entities.
  • IoT Orchestration and Mediation: Mediation for IoT includes the AAA function, consisting of end-user and/or business driven preferences and identity management. Other important functions include security and privacy control. Mediation for IoT includes the AAA function, consisting of end-user and/or business driven preferences and identity management.   Other important functions include security and privacy control.  All of these functions, while separate and distinct, may reside physically in the same platform or exist separately and communicate over APIs.

In many cases, engineers and managers need to have more specific skills and knowledge about IoT Technologies such as those associated with IoT Sensing, Addressing, Routing, and Data Storage.  However, traditional hard skills within the technology arena are not enough for the digital economy.  There is also a need for soft skills.

Traditional Skills are not enough for the Digital Economy

Traditional skills and mindsets, such as thinking only within one’s own department and/or functional area, are not enough to be successful in the new digital economy.  There is a need for cooperation among internal enterprise groups as well as coopetition between rival companies.  There is also a need for a spirit of entrepreneurial focus internally as if every Fortune 1000 company were a start-up.  This can be referred to as an intrapreneurial mindset.

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IoT Managers and Engineers also Need Soft Skills

The old, and in many cases quite successful, ways of strategizing, planning, engineering, executing, and operating will no longer suffice in the new digital economy.  Things are moving too fast and changes come from too many different directions for old thinking.  Data is too voluminous and technology is evolving too fast for business as usual.

A representative sampling of some jobs that IoT may create, facilitate and/or enhance the need for include: Agricultural Technologist, 3-D Printing Engineer, Grid Modernization Engineers, Wearable Tech Designer, Medical Robot Designer, Data Security Expert, Cloud Computing Specialist, E-discovery Investigator, Counter Hackers, and more.

Many companies that do not evolve their mindset will find that their business processes, and therefore their products and/or services, are no longer desired, because they are too expensive, have sub-optimal functionality, solve yesterday’s problems, etc.

More Information

For more information and other topics see the Mind Commerce Knowledge Center

 

 

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IoT Sensing, Addressing, Routing, and Data Storage

At one of the most fundamental levels, the Internet of Things (IoT) involves sensing/detection of events, recognizing the address of where to route data about the event, routing the data, and storing the data.

Note: Processing the data can happen at any point after sensing generates event-related data, which means that Streaming IoT Data can be captured and processed in real-time via advanced analytics and with the help of Artificial Intelligence.

Sensors and Detection in IoT

Advances in wireless networking, micro-fabrication and integration (sensors and actuators manufactured using micro-electro mechanical system technology, or MEMS), and embedded microprocessors have enabled a new generation of massive-scale sensor networks suitable for a range of commercial and military applications.

Sensors can be programmed to sense the environment and share that information over the Internet.  For example, ranchers are using wireless sensors on cattle to alert the rancher if a cow gets sick or lost.

In the future, tiny, inexpensive electromagnetic sensors, capable of communicating from remote places to central monitoring facilities (by way of Machine to Machine communications) will be found everywhere.  Thanks to increasingly cost efficient miniaturization, improvements in battery life, and advanced power management, sensors will become the norm rather than the exception across a wide variety of environments for both human and non-human assets/objects.

As sensor technology improves, there will be a transformation in which information is no longer a stale commodity but rather a living, breathing asset as information is continually updated due to intelligent actuation and notifications based on event driven criteria and associated triggers.

Thermal sensors are designed to detect temperature variances. In real life, these are used to generate alerts about failed refrigeration units on food delivery trucks before the onset of spoilage.

Another kind of sensor is able to detect airborne particles. Typical applications for these are pollution monitoring equipment, or machines to detect explosive materials, biohazards or impurities in manufacturing facilities such as pharmaceuticals, where a an undetected foreign substance in a product can lead to massive recalls costing millions of dollars.

Sensors to measure voltage fluctuations can predict failures in electronic equipment.  Sensors can trigger a preventive maintenance procedure that costs far less than emergency repairs after a system failure.

Heat sensors and motion detectors that detect vibration in machinery can not only shut down a system when it overheats or vibrates beyond a pre-set limit, but can also warn of impending system failure before an emergency. In the case of a manufacturer, it could be the source of a premium monitoring and maintenance service to trigger a maintenance call to dispatch a technician to the customer’s premises even before outward evidence of an imminent product failure.  Not only does this enable incremental recurring revenue, but it is also a means to solidify customer loyalty as part of any comprehensive proactive customer relationship management program.

Labeling and Addressing in IoT

IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is a revision of the Internet Protocol (IP) developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). IPv6 is intended to succeed IPv4.  The reason for the need for succession is simple: the demand for IP addresses is too great.  For many years the industry has managed with IPv4 through the use of network address translation (NAT), the process of modifying IP address information in IP packet headers while in transit across a traffic routing device.

This is what allows one to have many devices connected to one router.  The router has its own IP address, such as 192.168.0.1, and assigns other (non-public) IP addresses to connected devices (desktop, laptop, printer, etc.).  The analogous topology in wireless is that the GGSN (Gateway GPRS Support Node) maintains a static IP address and the SGSN (Serving GPRS Support Node) provides IP addresses upon connecting to mobile cellular phones requesting a cellular data connection.

This is great so long as one can connect to a router of some type relying upon it to provide an IP address on demand.  This falls short in a world of numerous devices, or even non-telecom assets, which require an IP address, and connect to a network in a non-traditional manner.  This is the direction that the world is going in which there will be many items/things that require an IP address that go way beyond traditional IP telephony.

Unlike IPv4, which has relatively easy to remember numbers such as Comcast’s IP address 192.168.0.1, IPv6 numbers can be much larger and very hard to remember such as IPv6 addresses, as commonly displayed to users, consist of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons, for example 2001:0db8:85a3:0042:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.  It is easy to see that the new addressing scheme for IPv6 provides for many more IP addresses than would be available through IPv4.

IPv6 will enable IoT by providing ample electronic addresses for the many “things” in the world.

Routing Messages in IoT

There is a need for a more intelligent Internet.  Traditional Internet routing is based on “best effort” routing using standard IP routers.  A router is connected to two or more data lines from different networks (as opposed to a network switch, which connects data lines from one single network).  From an addressing perspective, the Internet is dependent upon an Internet Routing Registry, which  is a database of Internet route objects for determining, and sharing route and related information used for configuring routers, with a view to avoiding problematic issues between Internet service providers.  The actual routing of packets themselves is based on available routes considering all of the routers between point A and point B.

Routing is different for certain IP enabled applications such as Voice over IP (VoIP), which relies upon virtual private network technologies to offer a method for delivering secure voice with a certain Quality of Service (QoS) level commensurate with the low latency requirements for voice communications. Because VoIP transmits digitized voice as a stream of data, the VoIP VPN solution accomplishes voice encryption quite simply, applying standard data-encryption mechanisms inherently available in the collection of protocols used to implement a VPN.

Because IoT is stateless and very bursty, there will different requirements than voice.  However, one requirement that will be the same is there will be a need for QoS.  Whereas with voice there is not a wide range of QoS (e.g. either you can understand each other speaking or not), with IoT there are many potential QoS levels commensurate with the many different applications that will rely upon IoT infrastructure and communications.

Accordingly, there is a need for a so called “Smart Internet” that is able to consider QoS requirements.  These requirements may be listed in the IRR and included as part of the information to route packets (along with IP address), but more likely information associated with QoS (mostly associated with priority and therefore associated routing information through various VPN or the public Internet) will be driven by the applications needs and may therefore be handled with the router network with potentially gateway routers.  Other solutions may entail the use of specific registries and databases associated with IoT routing only.

The specific solutions remain to be seen, but one thing is clear – for IoT to scale to many fold more messages than M2M has today, there is a need for a much smarter Internet (e.g. and IP routing over VPNs).  There is a need for engineering solutions today to solve the problems of tomorrow, especially when that tomorrow is not far away with IoT.

IoT Data Storage and Management

Data storage/management is a key aspect of IoT because there will be vast amounts of data generated and harvested from enumerable IoT processes, many of which are autonomous.

Just as IoT has unique network requirements, it also has unique data management requirements.

Every communication deployment of IoT is unique. However, there are four basic stages that are common to just about every IoT application. Those components are: data collection, data transmission, data assessment, and response to the available information.

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IoT Data Management is a Key Management Concern

IoT Data Management infrastructure issues to consider including:

  • Hybrid Database Support: There is a need for IoT Database Infrastructure with flexibility to handle semi-structured, unstructured, geo-spatial and traditional relational data. The varied types of data can co-exist within one single database.
  • Embedded Deployment Database: IoT Databases often need to be embeddable for processing and compressing data and transmitting over and between networks. Good features to have are little or no-configuration at run-time, self-tuning and automatic recovery from failure.
  • Cloud Migration: IoT Networks can store and process data in scalable, flexible Cloud infrastructure. The platform can be accessed using web-based interfaces and API calls.

More Information

For more information and other topics see the Mind Commerce Knowledge Center

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What are the Tactical Issues in IoT ?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to impact virtually every aspect of society.  The following areas are the major four sectors.

  • Consumer IoT
  • Industrial IoT
  • Enterprise IoT
  • Public Sector IoT

There are many strategic issues to consider with respect to planning and organizing a given industry sector or company for IoT.  These issues include direct financial impact on business as well as indirect areas such as risk management, customer relations, product life-cycle management, and more.

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In contrast, some issues are of a more tactical nature, but no less important challenges for managers and engineers to solve.  The following represents a non-exhaustive list of IoT Tactical Considerations:

  • Value of Use Cases in IoT: Many potential future IoT solutions involve assets that are so inexpensive that the cost associated with embedded computing is simply not justified (yet). There needs to be compelling use cases, and associated ROI, as a means of justification.  These are important IoT Business Value issues.
  • Who owns Data in IoT: This is an area that requires resolution in terms of enterprise/company vs. personnel data. Does the individual own data associated with their actions, behaviors, etc.?  Is the data shared or does that company really own it as they would like to claim?  These are all important IoT Data Management issues.
  • Privacy and Security: Privacy as we know it may need to be redefined.  One big privacy issue is “who owns data” (see above).  While closely related, privacy and security are NOT exactly the same thing.  There is a need to consider IoT Identity Management, AAA, and Preference Management.  These are all important IoT Orchestration and Mediation considerations.
  • Data Governance: Related to the above, data governance is an essential component of data collection, use, and distribution that can ensure a balance exists between the needs of the individual and the needs of the business.  These are issues that require decisions impacting individual businesses, industry vertical and cross-industry policy considerations, and effective incorporation of various Data Technologies.
  • Optimal Storage Solutions: Large amounts of storage (in the Cloud) for all the data generated by IoT and Big Data tools and fast analytics processing systems.  These are all important Cloud Computing issues.
  • Sensor Data Management: Sensors are used in ICT for detection of changes in the physical and/or logical relationship of one object to another(s) and/or the environment. Physical changes include temperature, light, moisture, pressure, sound, and motion.  Sensors will gather an enormous amount of IoT data, most of which will be of the unstructured (big) data variety.   To optimize decsions in this area, it is important to consider best practices in the area of Industrial Convergence.
  • Interoperability: Every engineer knows that interoperability is important, especially as it pertains to inter-system communications and/or interfacing different technologies.  For example, different sensors need to be able to talk to each other and/or talk more efficiently.  Many interoperability issues can be solved through use of IoT Application Programming Interfaces (API).
  • Distributed Computing, Storage, Sensing and Control: We are embracing the incidence of ubiquitously connected smart devices (wearable computing, smart metering, smart home, smart city, connected vehicles and large-scale wireless sensor networks), which are currently becoming the main factor of computing. Whereas the evolution of ICT has taken us from mainframes, to PCs, and back to the cloud (e.g. from centralized to distributed to centralized computing), clearly distributed computing will have an increasingly important role in the digital economy.  These issues impact many areas including Distributed Computing.
  • Self-configuring and Adaptive Systems: By its nature, IoT is autonomous, meaning there is little or no human intervention. This can be a blessing and a curse if there are not adaptive systems in place to both configure/reconfigure systems (such as needed in the case of a fault or major change) as well as to allow for preferences (from individuals, companies, and other communities of interest) to supersede previous programmatic logic.  One of the key technologies that must be considered here is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
  • Open Standards: Everyone says that want open standards, but the timing of them is very important. The industry does not want standards to be open too soon, which would stifle innovation from companies seeking differentiation.  However, they cannot come too late either, as production systems will not scale without open interfaces, programming environments, data sharing, etc.  This is an important consideration area as part of IoT Operations planning.
  • Power Issues: This includes battery life, energy harvesting, and related issues such as device-to-device communication with only one device needing power and others using RFID and other methods.
  • Energy Harvesting: Related to power issues, energy harvesting can be a solution to provision of power for small devices associated with the IoT ecosystem. Methods of energy harvesting include: Radio Waves, Thermal Gradients, Mechanical Vibrations, and Specialized Photocells

More Information

For more information about the above, see the Mind Commerce Knowledge Center

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What are HetNet Deployment Modes ?

Heterogeneous Networks will take on an increasingly more important role in mobile network operator planning and engineering with fifth generation (5G) and beyond.

As with HetNet planning for LTE, there can be several variations to a HetNet ecosystem, depending on the location and the purpose for deployment.

Below is a summary of the guidelines for some the key governing choices that need to be made during a HetNet type selection process:

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What Happens along the Road to 5G ?

Fifth Generation (5G) is anticipated to impact many aspects of telecom Network Architecture and Systems.  There are many things to consider along the road to 5G including 4G Optimization and supporting technologies such as HetNets and MEC.

4G Technology Optimization

The vision for 5G is always-on, high-bandwidth, low latency, and massive networks in terms of number of antennas and other infrastructure.  However, there is still much to be done with 4G technologies as they will persist and add value to carriers and end-users for many years to come, even after 5G is fully operational commercially in the post 2020 timeframe.

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Along the Road to 5G

Infrastructure, handset, and content vendors are working diligently to  ensure that 4G investment.  For example, Nokia has efforts underway to make improvements to improve uplink capabilities by combining multiple bands. This will let carriers reach uplink speeds up to 150Mbps, which will substantially help certain services such as Cloud-based back-up and end-user video upload/sharing.

Heterogeneous Networks

Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets) represent a decoupling of both control plane and user plane.  It is a mobile network created and operated based on a combination of Macro Cells, various different types of Small Cells, and a set of supporting hardware and software applications to make them seamlessly work together in unison to provide a true mobile broadband experience for the subscribers.

It is widely recognized that HetNets will be critical to the success of 5G.  There are roughly 200K cells in the United States currently.  Deployment of improved antenna technologies and enhancements to signal processing will not be enough for necessary 5G coverage.

The number of cells will need to increase by an order of magnitude to effectively support fifth generation cellular.  Mind Commerce anticipates many innovative approaches including the use of aerial drones or UAV for coverage.   By way of example, Nokia’s F-Cell is an experimental LTE small cell deployment.

However, must cells will be terrestrial in nature, so there will be a need for innovative business arrangements with both municipalities and business owners for placement of antennas on various structures so as electrical/light poles, signs, billboards, road and railway infrastructure.

Mobile Edge Computing

Another major innovation area for 5G will be in the area of Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), which represents technologies and solutions that enable edge infrastructure to run in an isolated environment from the network as a whole, facilitating access to local resources and data on a real-time basis.

In addition to the capacity benefits of processing at the edge, MEC will also enable context-based services and those that leverage Telecom Presence and Location.  This will be important for a variety of applications, services, and capabilities including real-time data processing and edge analytics necessary for optimizing IoT Data Management and Analytics.

Other areas that will benefit from MEC include mobile-to-cloud (and vice versa) apps of all types as a centralized cloud infrastructure is optimized for storage/archiving and non-real-time applications whereas the edge is reserved for real-time processing.  Obvious beneficiaries include video applications of all types.  The employment of Big Data technologies and real-time analytics will be important for solutions ranging from law enforcement, homeland security, and other Public Safety Technology areas.

While 5G is poised to provide substantial capacity gains, MEC is anticipated to deliver significant usable capability gains as processing is moved to the edge of wireless networks.

MEC reduces wasted capacity as it enables networks to transfer only the data that is required to centralized resources (cloud-based or otherwise) and also not rely on those same centralized resources for decision making.  Providing usable capacity is important in its own right, and clearly pre-5G networks will benefit from MEC as well.

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Roadmap to 5G: Evolution of 4G, 5G Architecture, Network Strategy and Planning investigates the evolution of wireless networks towards 5G including architecture, network strategy, and planning.

The report evaluates R&D efforts from major infrastructure providers including the so called fractional versions of 4G such as 4.5G, 4.5G Pro, and 4.9G.

 

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IMS and Rich Calls vs. WebRTC

The IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) framework represents an integrated platform consisting of Data, Voice, and Video on the same networking infrastructure whereby the performance of all the three services are optimized.  Many protocols are used as part of IMS including Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).

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IMS Model

At its core, IMS is relied upon for certain core services such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE).

However, IMS is about a lot more than just furthering VoIP as it stands today.  IMS was also conceived to enable “Rich Calls”.  A Rich Call is a 3GPP circuit switched call with an additional media such as combining video or data to an already established circuit switched call between mobile users.

The ability to continue to use the circuit switched network for voice or multimedia services in IMS networks provided several advantages to the wireless operators.  Operators could continue to provide high quality voice services with their existing infrastructure while they upgraded their networks to provide new and innovative services with IMS and roll-out new capabilities via 4G / LTE network by leveraging VoLTE.

The intentions was for operators to be able to provide services with their circuit switched network along with IMS based services include faster time to market with IMS services, reduced complexity in providing new IMS services, and the ability to continue to provide high quality voice.

Rich Communications Suite (RCS) represents the first LTE-enabled value-added service (VAS) application for carriers.  There are some pre-Voice over LTE (VoLTE) options, and a migration path for RCS that is pre-IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), but RCS adds the most value with ubiquitous VoLTE coverage and IMS integration.  RCS marks the transition of messaging and voice capabilities from Circuit Switched technology to an all-IP world.  RCS and VoLTE share the same IMS investment and leverage the same IMS capabilities.

RCS has struggled, however, and its closest competitive technology is Web Real-time Communications (WebRTC), which is showing more promise in the marketplace.

WebRTC provides a framework, protocols, and API that facilitates real-time interactive voice, video and data in via a Web browser.  Compared to RCS, there is a much low threshold of use as one need only have a WebRTC-enabled browser.  Supporting browsers and platforms include Android, Chrome, Firefox, iOS, and Opera.

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An emerging WebRTC ecosystem is anticipated to bring about substantial disruption in the marketplace as solutions in this area facilitate new and innovative methods for consuming apps and digital content while enabling a seamless communications and commerce experience.

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Global WebRTC Revenue 2015 – 2020

Global WebRTC revenue is projected to reach $3.9B by 2020 with 44.9% CAGR.

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WebRTC Device Usage

North America is anticipated to be a market leader including device usage.

More Information

For more information about WebRTC and real-time communications, visit Mind Commerce website and also see our report.

Web Real-time Communications: WebRTC Software, Applications, Services, Solutions, and Devices Market with Global and Regional Forecast 2015 – 2020 evaluates WebRTC technology, evolving ecosystem, solutions, and applications. It also addresses the role of value chain partners, WebRTC APIs, enterprise applications, telecom operators, and other CSPs within the evolving ecosystem. The report assesses WebRTC features/functionality, use cases, and adoption expectations for enterprise and consumers. The report covers the WebRTC solution landscape with vendor analysis focused on business models for each company/solution.

The report also forecasts global and regional WebRTC market size. Forecasting provides revenue by categories including solution, service (Implementation, Integration, Consulting, and Maintenance), industry verticals, deployment models, and application. In addition, the report contains forecasts for WebRTC devices and users in globally and regionally from 2015 to 2020.

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