Interview With Alexey Alyarov, WebRTC Advisory Board Member & Zingaya’s CEO

By | April 2, 2013

Interview With Alexey Alyarov, WebRTC Advisory Board Member & Zingaya’s CEO

Last week, we asked to submit your questions to Alexey Alyarov, the CEO of Zingaya and one of the WebRTC advisory board members.

Well, you asked, he delivered. Enjoy.

1) Tell us about yourself and your company.

I’m the CEO and one of the co-founders of Zingaya. The company actually originated in Moscow, Russia, which is where the founders (and myself) are from. Most of our initial team met in college, where we first started toying around with VoIP technologies. We launched Zingaya in 2010 and have since moved operations out to Silicon Valley, but still have a big presence with Russian businesses.

Zingaya is a cloud platform for voice and video communication. The first product we built on top of this platform is called the Zingaya Online Call. Businesses can install the Zingaya click-to-call button on their website to let their website visitors call them for free right from browser without any download or installation required. The only thing required is a microphone, and the click of a button (or touch of a screen). It’s placing voice calls to businesses at its easiest and quickest incarnation.

2) What are your views on the default WebRTC codec (VP8), which Microsoft opposes? Are there better alternatives?

There are two main competitors in this space – VP8/VP9 and H.264/H.265. The latter, H.264 (and H.265), was developed and standardized by ITU-T. Most of currently existing devices support hardware encoding and decoding of H.264. There are a lot of articles with tests and comparisons of VP8 and H.264. In my opinion, both codecs are good and if the decision about mandatory to implement (MTI) video codecs for WebRTC were in my hands, I would say that both should be MTI codecs to avoid interoperability issues.

3) According to Microsoft, “A successful standard cannot be tied to individual codecs, data formats or scenarios.” What are you views on that?

I can’t agree with that. The main question for such a standard like WebRTC is the interoperability between different browsers. All WebRTC-enabled browsers should be able to communicate with each other using both voice and video. And it’s pretty much tied to the question of individual codecs and data formats supported by all browsers. Regarding the scenarios – I can agree that we don’t have any idea how many scenarios and use cases there are for such technology.

4) Recently, Nokia filed a suit against WebM and refused to license its patents, which raises a question about VP8’s “royalty free” status. How will this impact WebRTC and your company in case judge sides with Nokia? What do you think about the case?

I think that Google will solve this problem eventually. I don’t know how much MPEG-LA earns on licensing of H.264 , but if I were them I would allow the use of H.264 for WebRTC without requirement to pay license fees. But most likely it won’t happen anytime soon.

5) Google too filled a suit (through Motorola) against Microsoft and tried to abuse its H.264 FRAND patents, which lead to investigation. Why should we trust Google when it comes to VP8 and WebRTC? (For our readers: Google asked 2.25% of the selling price of Microsoft products, which violates FRAND’s fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms).

I would trust any company that is trying to make our world better :) Google is a company I would certainly put on that list, and I really like how they push WebRTC development and fight for free and open codecs.

6) Our team has been working on implementing WebRTC streaming on the server side. What kind of transport/codec/fragmentation could a server use in order to send valid stream to a connected client (browser)? Do you think it is actually possible?

Yes, it’s possible. For example, Zingaya actually does this – we send/receive voice and video to/from our media gateway. WebRTC uses DTLS–sRTP as a transport, while codec depends on SDP because different browsers can support different codecs.

7) What do you think about Microsoft’s implementation that challenges WebRTC?

Hopefully it will be compatible with WebRTC implementation in other browsers to interoperate, but most likely developers will need to learn their documentation since there will be some differences in the API.

8) Is there any time frame on when web decides, which of the two implementations to use?

Google, Mozilla, Opera (and most likely Apple) have already decided which implementation to use – the one that was approved by WebRTC WG. Microsoft will use their own implementation, but, as mentioned, most likely it will be compatible with other browsers.

9) Why is WebRTC progress so slow? Only recently you have shown Chrome to Firefox VOIP, which was after Microsoft’s own implementation was demoed.

I would actually say that WebRTC progress is moving pretty quickly. Browser vendors started working on implementation at different times, and some parts of the standard (since it is a draft) were changing during the standard development , so it took time. But believe me, most other standards and their implementations were developed much slower than WebRTC has been.

10) What do you do at the board meetings (if there are any)?

Usually we discuss what is going on with the company and what should be done in the future.

11) Is there anything you would like to add?

I would add that it would be very interesting to see how WebRTC will eventually become available on mobile devices. We already have it in Google Chrome beta for Android. Something to look for in 2013.

And here you have it, folks.

Big thanks to Kyle Peterson for arranging the interview and to Alexey Alyarov for tweaking his busy schedule and answering our questions.

About (Author Profile)

Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

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