RCS reborn with new Google, operators partnership

News

Operators including Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Vodafone, Google and the GSMA have launched a new initiative aimed at reigniting the rich communication services (RCS) market.

The sector had formerly been seen as languishing, with operators' attempts to fight back against OTT companies by delivering the likes of group chat or sophisticated messaging on devices not cutting through with customers.

However, Google's surprise purchase of Jibe Mobile last year appears to have reinvigorated the formerly ailing technology.The digital company has teamed up with telcos, which also includes KPB, MTN, Telenor Group and TeliaSonera to devise an interoperable messaging service across all Android devices. This will be based on the GSMA's RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google.

In a statement, the GSMA said this agreement would help operators deploy a consistent RCS service, allowing consumers to share high-res photos, read receipts and make calls with advanced services.

The scale of the partnership, which involves 19 operators in total, will speed up the launch of services and make interoperability testing easier and quicker, said the GSMA.

Google is also due to deliver an open source version of the RCS client, which will be based on the universal profile specification. It will also provide developer APIs to help foster new services.

Operators will have the choice between deploying services using its own infrastructure or using Google's Jibe Platform.

Nick Fox, Vice President of Communications Products at Google, said: “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.”

Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA, added: “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.
"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.”