The GSMA has announced that mobile operators América Móvil, Rogers Communications and Sprint have interconnected their networks across the Americas, while Deutsche Telekom, Telenor Group, Telia Company and Vodafone Group have interconnected in Europe, enabling subscribers in these regions to access advanced Rich Communications Services (RCS) across 22 networks in 17 countries.
The upgraded service will enable users to enjoy enhanced messaging services such as chat, group chat and file share amongst many others.
Initial interconnection was achieved using the Jibe RCS Hub from Google, as well as a direct interconnect between Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom in Germany. In parallel, leading operators including Bell Canada, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile US are working on a joint initiative together with Samsung and Syniverse to accelerate the open ecosystem of RCS Interconnection Hubs. Efforts like this initiative to promote an open interconnected RCS ecosystem are also supported by AT&T and Swisscom. Interconnection Hubs will be fundamental for the rapid user adoption of RCS.
“In the space of a year we have aligned the industry behind a single, interoperable profile, which has resulted in a significant number of operator launches and a rapidly growing monthly user base. Now we are seeing operators further demonstrate their support for RCS by interconnecting their networks in a connect-once-to-all manner, which will dramatically increase the number of contacts a subscriber can enjoy RCS messaging with,” said Alex Sinclair, CTO, GSMA.
“We are also moving quickly towards RCS business messaging, a new area offering the opportunity for brands to engage directly with their customers in a more interactive way. This is an exciting time for the global RCS community and we look forward to seeing more launches and interconnections in the near future.”
Interconnection of additional operators and hub providers is expected to follow and the number of network interconnections forecast to exceed 140 by the end of March 2018.
Momentum for RCS is growing around the world with over 159 million current active monthly users, and the potential for continued growth is also significant with GSMA Intelligence estimating that, by Q4 2018, there will be 350 million users.
“As operator roll-outs of advanced Messaging (RCS) gather pace around the world, interconnecting the networks of launched operators becomes a key success metric,” said Dr. Petja Heimbach of Deutsche Telekom Group and Chair of the GSMA’s IP Comms Group. “Having a number of interconnect hubs, which are themselves interconnected, is the fastest way to accelerate the establishment of global RCS interconnect. We are hoping to see first commercially available offers in the second half of 2018.”
The GSMA’s Universal Profile (UP) provides an open, consistent and global messaging service across networks and devices. It simplifies interoperability and enables OEMs and OS providers to achieve scale and give consumers a richer and more consistent messaging experience regardless of device or network.
UP 2.0 upgrades the service further by enabling Application-to-Person RCS Business messaging and RCS-capable chatbots, as well as additional messaging expressiveness features. It introduces ‘conversational commerce’ that will enable users to interact with brands within the platform. It is an important step that when combined with network interoperability enables operators to offer a consistent and engaging messaging experience.