The GSMA has announced its Rich Communications Services (RCS) standards designed to fold the likes of video calling, instant messaging and VoIP back into the telco's core offerings. By Ian Scales.
Back in the day RCS (Rich Communications Services) was probably a good idea. It's a framework, orchestrated by the GSMA, for integrating and managing advanced carrier services - basically RCS offers carriers smarts for unified and IP communications, enabling telcos to launch compatible services involving things like presence, complete with traffic exchange and revenue share. From the commercial perspective, RCS meant billable next generation services.
Then came the iPhone, Android, apps, and 'OTT' services. Now the RCS story goes one of two ways, depending upon your orientation.
RCS in concept has simply been overtaken by events and is no longer relevant. All the things that RCS set out to enable - advanced chat, video telephony, rich 'social' communications services, consolidated contact lists etc - has already been done or undermined by equivalent services delivered 'over the top'.
The idea that users can be convinced to drop services, such as Skype, that they appear to like, to pay for telco replacements, is absurd.
Opinion 2: RCS is needed more than ever. If operators keep their nerve, trust in the underlying superiority of their traditional business models, then RCS is a way of 'winning back' services from the OTT players by substituting superior, paid for services.
The standards have been dogged by delay (they were supposed to be announced last year) but they've now been launched at this MWC, complete with a user-friendly brand name - Joyn - "to help educate consumers to its advantagtes," says the GSMA.
Sony, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, Huawei, ZTE and RIM are to brand devices with the Joyn ‘mark’ to indicate compliance. Vodafone Spain has already launched live service.
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