#MWC16: RCS steps forward as Google and GSMA launch client with operators

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Leonardo Patrizi)

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is how operators will continue the fight against feature-rich OTT services like WhatsApp through an interoperable standard enabling things like group messaging, IP voice calls, and file sharing between networks. 

As traditional SMS use declines, it will be RCS which hopes to retain those profits. It will be an uphill struggle considering how proliferate some OTT service are – such as WhatsApp which announced it had passed one billion active monthly users earlier this month. Facebook Messenger is also close to reaching that same number. 

“RCS continues to experience organic growth around the world, with 47 operators in 34 countries having launched services to date. However, this initiative will greatly simplify and accelerate adoption of the technology, and points to the future of how mobile users will communicate with one another. This is an incredibly positive development for the industry,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “Google’s contributions will provide operators a new opportunity for a rich, consistent implementation across Android devices and offer a real step change in messaging experiences for consumers worldwide.”  

Where RCS has a chance is that it will be supported out the box on many devices in the future. Google is aiming to get ahead here, and has launched an Android RCS client in partnership with global operators including; América Móvil, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, KPN, Millicom, MTN, Orange, PLAY, Smart Communications, Sprint, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, TIM, Turkcell, VimpelCom, and Vodafone. 

The RCS specification was created by the GSMA, and Google is pushing the new standard by offering a platform for operators and developing an Android client with a "universal profile" for consumers to access RCS services on their devices. Features such as group chat, high-res photo sharing, read receipts, and more, will now become part of the operator messaging experience, enhancing the experience of over 4 billion SMS users worldwide. 

“Messaging holds a central place in our lives, whether it’s coordinating a meet-up, sharing photos with friends, or sending thoughts to a loved one,” said Nick Fox, Vice President of Communications Products at Google. “Today marks an important step forward in bringing a better messaging experience for Android users everywhere, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with our partners across the industry to make this happen.” 

Google acquired Jibe Mobile five months ago, a startup which helped operators to deploy rich messaging features in their services. It's clear the RCS client was built using their expertise and can be used without the Jibe platform, but that is also being offered for operators who do not wish to build their own RCS infrastructure. 

You can find out more information about RCS and the Jibe platform here

Do you think Google and the GSMA's push will help RCS hit mainstream adoption? Let us know in the comments. 

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