The estimated number of monthly active users of Rich Communications Services (RCS) was approximately 215 million at the end of 2018. This modest number masks the developments in this area since the publisher last addressed the topic in 2017.
This report provides an update on the direction that RCS messaging has taken, looking at MNO and other stakeholder participation in this regard. It is intended to update operators in order to assist in the development of their approach to RCS messaging services going forward.
Background to the Report
Rich Communication Services (RCS) development has been guided by the GSMA. RCS is a multimedia messaging service that is based on MNO networks. It was originally intended to compete with over-the-top (OTT) messaging services (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger), with the added advantage of being a universal mobile offering – like SMS – which is accessible to all mobile users (i.e. there is no app requirement):
When RCS messages are sent to recipients without RCS capability, the message is delivered by SMS, ensuring universality.
MNOs were initially reticent to adopt RCS, as it required an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture to coordinate media streams regardless of the technical enabler (e.g. IP-enabled or circuit switch-enabled). Revenue outlook failed to justify this investment at the time, see MWP report IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS): Who Benefits? (November 2010). A lack of RCS standards also hindered uptake by operators, while web-based OTT messaging services thrived, as they capitalised on meeting consumers’ advanced messaging needs.
This report provides an update on RCS developments, both in terms of operator implementations and the development of RCS business messaging services: MNO traction appears to be growing, standards are in place, high profile players like Google and Samsung are collaborating on Universal Profile RCS and commercial implementations of RCS business messaging are emerging. Mobile Market Development examines this progress in the context of the wider messaging market.
Subsequent to this introduction, the remainder of the report is arranged in the following sections:
- Section 3 provides the history of RCS and where it is to date in terms of adoption;
- Section 4 outlines the potential for messaging services, both person-to-person (P2P) and business-to-consumer (A2P);
- Section 5 examines what RCS supporters are doing to launch services around the world.
The report concludes with a summary of the main findings and recommendations for operators who developing their approach to RCS messaging.
1.1 Key Infographic
1.3 Three i3
2 Background and Content
2.1 Background to the Report
2.2 Report Content
2.3 Currency and Conversions
2.4 Further Questions and Feedback
3 Introduction to RCS
3.1 History of RCS
3.2 Universal Profile RCS 2.x Specifications
3.3 RCS Adoption
4 Messaging Potential
4.1 Messaging Market
4.2 P2P Messaging Business Case
4.3 Business Messaging (including A2P) Business Case
4.3.1 Early Success
4.3.2 OTT Business Messaging Competition
5 Key RCS Supporter Updates
5.4 SK Telecom
5.7 Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile
5.8 América Móvil