It’s funny – it seems that the primary means of communicating on a mobile phone isn’t talking– it’s text (so why is it still called a phone?). A growing majority of people primarily interact via text communication or a messaging application like WhatsApp, WeChat, or Facebook Messenger.
“RCS capabilities extend beyond messaging, and add images and video, as well as location and “is typing” indicators”
Not long ago, Forrester Research indicated that roughly six billion text messages are delivered every day in the U.S., resulting in about 8.6 trillion text messages in a single year. This figure has most certainly changed since then. But that texting traffic has been running on a technology that is due for an upgrade. Although mobile carriers have upgraded their networks to keep up with demand for data and smartphones, the SMS technology infrastructure also needs to evolve in order to enable new functionality in the messaging experience. As a result, mobile players have begun to adopt a new technology called Rich Communication Services (RCS), which leverages data connectivity to deliver next-generation messaging features.
What is RCS?
RCS is essentially the evolution of SMS and MMS. In order to use it, the carriers, your device, and the messaging application all need to support the technology. In many cases, RCS capabilities extend beyond messaging, and add images and video, as well as location and “is typing” indicators. With Release 2 of RCS Universal Profile, there will be new capabilities designed for Business Messaging, including branding options, rich card formats, suggested actions and improved analytics capabilities to measure and manage programs.
How is RCS Different?
Millions of people use over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and Skype. For the user, RCS is an improvement over OTT because it will exist on every phone once it is deployed across all carriers. There will be no need to download a specific app or join a new network in order to use it. With interoperability among the carriers, nearly everyone with a mobile phone will be part of the network…just like SMS today. Also, since it is based on an open standard, OTT apps may also choose to integrate it into their clients and make the RCS capabilities available within their applications as well. This ubiquity will enable consumers and marketers to connect to everyone. Having the carriers involved, who already manage enterprise messaging solutions designed to protect consumers from SPAM and fraud, will help ensure that consumers can trust the messages that they receive.
Industry leaders agree that rich, phone-based messaging remains central to the future of communication. New forms of mobile communication are delivering increasingly robust capabilities, including chat, photo sharing, payments and video calls; all of which will enable businesses to connect with their customers in new and exciting ways.
The GSMA, in partnership with leading mobile development companies, is now working to enable mobile operators and enterprises to use the RCS advanced communications platform to engage with customers through rich media content. This will enable businesses to use these services to seamlessly engage and transact with customers via a ubiquitous and reliable communication channel that connects everything from information to customer service and purchases.
The combination of ubiquity and standards-based should allow RCS to provide all the capabilities of OTT applications with the reach of existing SMS, all through one app that will already be on the phone. For businesses, that means they will be able to communicate through rich interactions with all their customers, and not have to constantly invest in supporting new types of services.