By combining Firefox's new WebRTC support, Ericsson's Web Communication Gateway, and AT&T's API Platform, Mozilla has demonstrated calls, text messages, and video calls all being made from within the browser. It's all in a proof-of-concept application AT&T calls WebPhone, and Mozilla will demonstrate WebPhone next week at the Mobile World Congress conference.
With the right phone operator support, the plugin-free technology can potentially offer a full range of telephony services through the browser. This decouples traditional phone services from the phone itself, potentially enabling access to the phone and text messages from anywhere with an Internet connection and WebRTC-enabled browser. The demo is currently limited in scope, with AT&T planning to roll out an alpha version of the full API "in the near future."
AT&T describes WebPhone as a "vision for the future of seamlessly integrated communication." More than that, however, it's a vision for the network operator as dumb pipe provider. Put that browser on a phone—perhaps one running Firefox OS—and you can do away with the voice connection entirely. Just place everything, voice and data alike, over the data connection.