Real-Time Communications

What Does Real-Time Communications Mean?

Real-time communications (RTC) is a term used to refer to any live telecommunications that occur without transmission delays. RTC is nearly instant with minimal latency.


RTC data and messages are not stored between transmission and reception. RTC is generally a peer-to-peer, rather than broadcasting or multicasting, transmission.

Techopedia Explains Real-Time Communications

RTC data transmission modes are as follows:

  • Half Duplex: Occurs bidirectionally but not simultaneously on a single carrier or circuit
  • Full Duplex: Occurs bidirectionally and simultaneously on a single carrier or circuit

Examples of RTC include the Internet, land lines, mobile/cell phones, instant messaging (IM), Internet relay chat, video conferencing, teleconferencing and robotic telepresence. Emails, bulletin boards and blogs are not RTC channels but occur in time-shifting mode, where there is a significant delay between data transmission and reception.

RTC features were first introduced in Windows XP and included Microsoft Office Communicator, MSN Messenger, Windows Messenger, real-time voice and video and IM.

Microsoft operating systems and software applications include RTC platforms comprised of RTC-enabled component sets.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.