Global telecom operators, Google, GSMA push for adoption of Rich Communications Services

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Global telecom operators–including Sprint, Vodafone and América Móvil–have partnered with the GSMA and Google to push for the adoption of Rich Communications Services in a move designed to create a globally-interoperable messaging service across Android devices.

The push towards RCS comes on the heels of Google’s acquisition of Jibe Mobile, a leading RCS provider, in September. The plan is to bring the RCS standard to a global audience. This will bring group chatting, high resolution photos and other features expected of messaging services to more people and devices.

From a GSMA news release:

“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. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be supported in the future by Google.”

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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, Vodafone, the GSMA and Google today announced the launch of a mobile industry initiative to accelerate the availability of Rich Communications Services (RCS). The initiative will enable all operators worldwide to provide an open, consistent, and globally interoperable messaging service across Android devices. Operators have agreed to transition toward a common, universal profile based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications and an Android RCS client provided by Google in collaboration with operators and OEMs.

By aligning on a universal RCS profile, mobile operators will be able to deploy a consistent RCS implementation, feature set, and configuration. The Android RCS client provided by Google will be based on the universal profile, enabling 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. GSMA RCS advanced calling features will also be supported in the future by Google.

The profile and client will enable a consistent and interoperable messaging experience between all Android devices and across all operators worldwide, as well as ease interoperability testing between networks and significantly reduce time to market. The universal profile can be implemented by other operating systems and will be supported by a formal GSMA accreditation process. Google will also provide an open source version of the client based on the universal profile specification and will provide developer APIs to enhance the RCS client experience.

“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.” 

“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.”

In the global rollout of RCS, mobile operators can deploy their own infrastructure or they have the option to use the Jibe Platform from Google, which supports the universal RCS profile. The Jibe Platform includes a hosted cloud for individual operators to launch RCS services for all leading mobile operating systems and the Jibe Hub to interconnect operator RCS networks.


About the Author: Bill Mayeroff

After five years as a newspaper reporter in western Illinois and two more as a freelancer in Chicago, Bill's life has gone to the dogs in the best way possible. These days, Bill lives in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood with his terrier mix, Chester, and works at a small, no-kill animal shelter while he studies to be a professional dog trainer. His non-work and non-TalkAndroid time is spent finding the best beer in Chicago, playing with Chester, watching roller derby and occasionally writing. Besides TalkAndroid, Bill writes about dogs and beer at Pints and Pups (www.chicagonow.com/pints-pups) and contributes beer news and commentary at SommBeer (www.sommbeer.com). Bill's Android gear of choice for the moment is his trusty LG G3.