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What it takes to build real-time voice and video infrastructure

In this series, WebRTC expert Tsahi Levent-Levi of provides an overview of the essential parts of a real-time voice and video infrastructure—from network to software updates. Check out his informative videos and read how Agora’s platform solves the challenges so you can focus on your innovation.

1.2 What is Real-Time Engagement (RTE)?

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Category: Chapter 1: Introduction

Understand the road from analog communications to real-time communication (RTC) and real-time engagement (RTE).

Dive deeper: Read the blog that defines The Evolution to Real-Time Engagement.


So what is real-time engagement? What we’re going to do in this lesson is first introduced the concept of real-time engagement, and then discuss the difference from real-time engagement and real-time communications (RTE versus RTC). To do that, we first need to understand and look at the word road that we’ve taken toward real time engagement.

Read the full transcript

Communication started in an analogue fashion, we had the full-service phone calling on telephony networks, we had to buy physical phones and connecting an analog way from one phone to another. From VOIP, we shifted toward voice—Voice over IP.  

Voice over IP marked the change in the move and the shift from analog towards digital. What they didn’t change was the fact that this was still a full service. If I wanted to communicate with someone else, I had to make a phone call over the telephony network. From voice, we shifted towards communications. This was the first move from voice over IP to real-time communications. We no longer cared if this was voice, video, or messaging. But it was all software, all digital. So, this was a software centric solution. That’s what RTC is. It made a shift—a drastic shift in mindset, from a service towards a feature. If I needed to communicate with someone else, I could now embed that into my service or application as a feature being able to call. The one thing that didn’t change is that we’re still at the technical level.  

We’re talking about technical term real-time communications. How do I call you? What are the codecs that are going to be used and other technical terms that we will see later in this course? What we are going to talk about is the shift from communications to engagements from RTC towards RTE—from real-time communications to real-time engagement. The main difference here is that we’re now focusing on the user and the interaction. We’re still software centric, we’re still in the feature set, but we’re not talking on the technical terms. We’re looking at the user and the interaction—we’re holistically looking at the solution that is needed. What we’ve seen here is that it comes because of a huge expansion in the use cases out there, and the ones that we need to be able to cater for. When we say that the focus is on the user and the interaction, we’ve actually come full circle, we’re back into the real-world of analog. In real time engagement, the focus in the is the user, which means that we now encompass the digital interactions that we have and the experience is that we put in the digital world with the focus over the analog, the user in the experiences that he’s having.  

There’s also a huge expansion in the use cases. We started communications in one-to-one interactions, we have two people, they need to talk to each other, reach each other. From there went to a concept of a meeting room, multiple people within a meeting room. From there, we grew to larger meeting rooms. But today, when we talk about real time engagement, we’re talking about a cloud-based service with multiple users—many, many users taking different roles within a session and dynamically changing these roles and they are geographically spread around the world. What we’re looking at is a solution that scales. We want it to scale by the size of the session, the number of people that are engaged in a single session, the number of sessions that our solution can handle. Okay, the geographical spread of the users that we’ve had, and the device types that can handle and be part of these sessions. 

So, if one doctor wants to talk about RTE—RTE is all about engagement. What we’re looking for is the focus on the users and the users. We are moving from thinking about the technical details to the use case delivery. Thank you.