Japanese mobile operators KDDI, NTT DOCOMO and SoftBank have launched Rich Communications Services (RCS) based on the GSMA’s specifications.
The service, which is called ‘+ message’, is an upgrade to SMS and is available today to customers on smartphones and tablets, enabling them to enjoy enhanced messaging features such as chat, group chat, video, gifs, file and location sharing, amongst others. All three operators plan to transition to the GSMA’s Universal Profile specification in the future.
All three operators are planning to launch RCS Business Messaging in the future. RCS Business Messaging enables consumers to engage directly with multiple brands from a single messaging platform, allowing them to make restaurant reservations, book train tickets or retail purchases without having to juggle numerous apps. Several global brands are already trialling it to improve the customer experience and enable consumers to communicate with brands in a more engaging and direct manner. GSMA Intelligence estimates that the RCS Business Messaging market will be worth over $74 billion by 2021.
Adoption of RCS is accelerating quickly around the world, with over 50 network launches as well as network interconnections. Earlier this year, the GSMA announced that Deutsche Telekom, Telenor Group, Telia Company and Vodafone Group had interconnected their networks in Europe, while América Móvil, Rogers Communications and Sprint have interconnected across the Americas. GSMA Intelligence estimates that there are currently 165 million active monthly RCS users, which is expected to double to 350 million by Q4 2018.