Video and Audio Enabler WebRTC Near Release

A simple way to turn anything with an Internet connection into a peer-to-peer video calling tool

4 min read
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Photo: Dimitri Vervitsiotis/Getty Images

24 October 2012—Two years ago, a handful of the world’s largest technology companies met at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., campus to devise a new peer-to-peer approach to communications. Participants at the October meeting, including representatives from Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and Skype, kicked off an effort known as WebRTC to create open standards for real-time video, audio, and data communication via an Internet browser.

The goal of the new standards is to make it easy for developers with little to no knowledge of telephony protocols to add communications capabilities to anything with an Internet connection. Though the standards are still months away from being finalized, ordinary users will be able to start kicking the tires on the new technology—albeit with some restrictions—in November, when Google releases the next version of the Chrome browser, and in January, using the new Firefox browser.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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