Rich Communication Services – New SMS?

A title image that says Rich Communication Services. It features someone texting on their smart phone.

Are Rich Communication Services the new text message?

Rich communication services, or simply RCS, might just be the future of texting. Let’s face it, texting doesn’t have the same capabilities as RCS. Unlike rich communication services, conventional text messages do not support features that are pretty much-considered staples these days. This includes group messaging, animated GIF stickers, and much more. SMS also does not provide read receipts. These features are the tip of the iceberg. So much more can be done with RCS messaging.

An overview of Rich Communication Services (RCS)

We’re not here to cut down the text message. The purpose of this post it to help you understand where messaging is going. Let’s focus on some of the remarkable features rich communication services have to offer. The thing is, despite the downfalls, approximately 97% of the smartphone users still send SMS messages.  The manufacturers took it upon themselves to improve their messaging apps before it’s too late to compete with the titans such as Facebook Messenger. And this is exactly where rich communication services come to life!

In short, RCS protocols are set to replace conventional SMS exchange services. Rich communication services were first introduced in 2007 by a small group of the industry enthusiasts. This was followed by receiving the GSM Association support just a year later. However, the project stalled for nearly a decade due to carrier participation issues and other unfortunate circumstances.

Google’s Chat ushers in RCS.

This all changes in 2018. Google announced that negotiations have been happening with all major cell phone carriers worldwide in regards to implementing rich communication services protocols as soon as possible. The result of these negotiations is Chat. Chat is an RCS-based tool that will be a great alternative to texting.

Rich communication services are at the core of Chat. Features such as group conversations, read receipts and various visual tools are the standard. There are other subtle yet useful improvements that will make Chat stand out and further improve the user experience. For example, Chat, much like some calendar apps, will seamlessly send out live updates on upcoming trips and events. This could include an integrated airport check-in and pick your seat right there and then. These little tweaks are likely to be useful for both casual and business users. More importantly, this takes rich comunication services to the next level.

Currently, mostly thanks to Google’s persistence, there has been tremendous progress with both carriers and OEM’s to embrace the RCS protocol. However, the level of acceptance is not quite where Google is probably hoping it to be. This is understandable since an upgrade to rich communication services required both a network and a software revamp. , and consequently, many OEM’s are not quite ready for the challenge yet. Nevertheless, with over 60 major OEM’s and operators on board, the RCS revolution is definitely on its way.

And of course, Google might have started the buzz, but it’s not the only RCS option on the block. Overall, the message is clear: rich communication services work, and will be an alternative to texting!

Final thoughts

AvidMobile does see RCS as an important part of mobile marketing. At the moment we don’t support this type of messages, but we are researching options to add it as soon as it’s more widely available. Stay tuned.

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