Will telecoms invest to tap IP-based messaging?

GSMA RCS programTelecom industry body GSMA says IP-based messaging will be a big market for mobile service providers.

A mobile operator in developed markets, though unlikely to charge consumers directly for IP-based communications services, could generate substantial financial benefits of up to $5 billion between 2015 and 2020, according to GSMA Intelligence.

The enterprise market will be the main driver for this increase, as well as new product and service innovations, such as conversational commerce which enables users to complete transactions within the messaging service.

There are currently 456 LTE networks worldwide, 48 of which support VoLTE, and 47 operators in 34 countries have launched RCS services. GSMA said nearly half a billion people are interconnected using these communications services offering huge financial benefits to telecoms to make investments in future.

According to a study sponsored by GSMA, mobile subscribers are looking for IP-based messaging experiences from telecom network operators.

The GSMA research – based on views of 4,045 participants from China, India, Spain and the United States, said there is a strong interest in new advanced mobile operator-led messaging services such as pre-calling, instant messaging, live video and real-time photo or file sharing, which are enabled by Rich Communications Services (RCS) and voice over LTE (VoLTE).

These services work natively on any device and network without downloading an app. Operator-led services were preferred to existing popular internet-based messaging services, with 79 per cent of people surveyed saying such a service would be relevant to them and 89 per cent regarding them as unique.

Alex Sinclair, chief technology officer of GSMA, said: “Operators must meet this demand for advanced communications services by deploying RCS and VoLTE, which, when connected with other operators, allows users to reach anybody on any network and provides incredible messaging experiences.”

Consumers are looking for a single, feature-rich communications service they can use to reach all of their contacts. Operator-led advanced communications services were preferred to internet-based services because they built on the existing features of internet messaging apps, but provided innovative new features such as pre-calling.

Respondents said support for one-to-one chat and the ability to use the same voice calling service over mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks as attractive features.

GSMA also announced the new members from the telecom industry to take up the program to the next level. AIS, Axiata, Beeline, Bell Mobility, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Claro Brazil, Claro Colombia, Indosat Ooredoo, M1, Megafon, MTS, Optus, Personal Argentina, Personal Paraguay, Reliance Jio, Rogers Communications, Singtel, StarHub, Telcel Mexico, Tele2, Telefonica, Telkomsel, Telus and T-Mobile US are the latest operators to support for a universal Rich Communications Services (RCS) profile.

Handset manufacturers Alcatel, ASUS, General Mobile, HTC, Intex Technologies, Lava International, LG, Lenovo, Samsung and ZTE, as well as mobile OS providers Google and Microsoft, are also committed to bringing universal profile handsets to market.

A universal RCS profile will enhance existing operator messaging services by providing users with a consistent user experience, global interoperability and a primary, uniform feature set that includes group chat, photo sharing and pre-call messaging.

GSMA said the universal RCS profile will reduce cost and time-to-market for OEMs by allowing them to deliver a rich messaging experience with a standard set of protocols worldwide as well as use the same client for both operator customers and open market devices.

The Universal Profile has already received support from America Movil, Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, Google, KPN, Millicom, MTN, Orange, PLAY, Smart Communications, Sprint, Telenor Group, Telia, Telstra, TIM, Turkcell, VimpelCom and Vodafone.

48 telecom network operators in 35 countries are already offering RCS. RCS is available on 156 devices.

Baburajan K from Shanghai
[email protected]