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Get Ready for Rich Communication Services

Staff Writer's picture

This article was originally published on VoIPInnovations

Billions of people and businesses connect via text message every day. Despite still being the most universally used feature on smartphones, the way the world communicates has vastly gone past the capabilities of standard SMS. Unlike other apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat, standard SMS does not support group messaging features, animated stickers or read receipts. To combat these issues, Rich Communication Services (RCS) was created. With RCS, SMS text messaging will be replaced by a protocol with fewer restrictions. 

Here’s everything you need to know about RCS. 

What is Rich Communication Services?

RCS is a communication protocol between operators, mobile operators, and phones. Formed in 2007 by a group of industry promoters and taken by the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) Association in 2008, RCS aims to replace SMS messages with a richer text message system that relies on a data connection instead of a cellular connection. This system provides phonebook polling for better service discovery and can transmit in-call multimedia. A combination of different services uses these enhanced phonebooks to allow another phone’s presence information and capabilities to be discovered by a mobile phone, allowing the services to enhance communication features.

What does Rich Communication Services Change?

The biggest advantage of RCS over SMS is the ability to let users send rich and verified data. This function allows messages to carry more information, like audio, photos, and videos directly within the messaging application. Essentially an upgrade to SMS, RCS is a universal standard platform that will combine the capabilities of SMS, MMS, and messaging apps. The key difference between RCS and messaging apps like WhatsApp is that RCS has the capabilities to reach SMS and MMs devices. There is also not a need to hassle with poorly designed apps that require additional onboard learning or has an inconsistent design. With similar features to messaging apps, RCS can give the same rich data, but without the added hassles. Features such as allowing users to create groups, direct message people, see “read” receipts, know if people are online, and much more will be available. Businesses will also be able to use RCS messaging to increase customer interaction. They can send package delivery notification, confirm boarding pass information, communicate with customers directly and more. 

What are the Features?

When implemented, RCS will overhaul SMS texting into a more interactive messaging system. Tied to a user’s mobile number instead of to an app, downloads will not be required to benefit from the RCS system. Here are some features you can expect when RCS is adopted by your carrier or device. 

  • Can attach up to 10MB of interactive content
  • Group and video chat - Use video chat within the messaging system, without third-party apps
  • Uses data connection over a cellular connection - Use RCS feature without an internet connection
  • Delivers unified communication to any phone number - Automatically downgrades to SMS or MMS if needed
  • Brand security - Senders are verified
  • Uses universal user profiles - Allows the user RCS access across multiple devices
  • Can be used for peer-to-peer (P2P) and application-to-person (A2P) purposes
  • Supports Chatbots
  • Uses client-to-server encryption

What are the Drawbacks?

Currently, in the early stages of deployment, RCS technology is not readily available. Although Google is working with every major smartphone carrier to adopt the RCS protocol, it is currently only available on Android and Windows devices and a set list of carriers. This leaves roughly 50% of the market unreachable. Unless all carriers and device manufacturers support GSMA’s Universal Profile for RCS, seamless interoperability like SMS will not be possible. The issue regarding carriers not adopting the RCS protocol is that it will require both a network and software update. Many original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and carriers are hesitant to get on board due to not wanting to develop specific messaging programs that are compatible with the RCS system.

Rich Communication Services, when implemented with all carriers and phone manufacturers, will deliver a better messaging system. An upgrade from SMS, RCS can bring communication to the next level. Through data connection and universal user profiles, rich communication will readily be available across a multitude of devices around the world. Are you ready for the future of communication?

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