China's largest mobile operator, China Mobile, is partnering ZTE to develop its suite of Rich Communication Services (RCS), preparing to launch a service that is expected to rival popular Over-the-Top (OTT) services such as Tencent’s WeChat service, according to a report by the South China Morning Post. The report also highlghted that trials of China Mobile/ZTE’s new RCS programme have already started within the company, with 550,000 China Mobile employees using the service. China Mobile is on track to building its readiness to support 100 million active users on the service, which is expected to launch later this year.
The move is believed to be China Mobile's response to the increasing popularity of WeChat, whose growth was spurred even further by the availability of 4G LTE coverage. WeChat boasts 500 million monthly active users from its nearly 1 billion total registered accounts worldwide, according to a recent report by the parent company, Tencent, with the majority believed to be from mainland China.
RCS, a GSMA initiated, inter-operator communication service based on the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) enables the delivery of communication experiences beyond voice and SMS, providing consumers with instant messaging or chat, live video and file sharing services – across devices, on any network. The RCS leverages the same IMS capabilities as VoLTE and Video calls over LTE.