RCS Messaging: What Do We Do With It?

The following is a guest contributed post from Steve Murphy, CIO of 3Cinteractive.

It’s definitely no secret that the word mobile phone might be a little misleading today. When we think of a mobile phone we now often think texting before voice calls. It’s no wonder here, especially with the proliferation and popularity of messaging apps such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Text messaging is certainly popular, but users want to do more with their messages in addition to “text”. As such, the world of mobile is now adopting technology called Rich Communication Services (RCS), where data connectivity is used to deliver next-gen messages.

Not long ago, Forrester Research indicated that roughly six billion text messages are delivered every day in the U.S., resulting in about 8.6 trillion text messages in a single year. This figure has most certainly changed since then. But that texting traffic has been running on an technology that is due for an upgrade. Although Mobile carriers have upgraded their networks to keep up with demand for data and smartphones, the SMS technology infrastructure also needs to evolve in order to enable new functionality in the messaging experience.

Definition of RCS

RCS is essentially the evolution of SMS and MMS. It’s important for businesses to recognize the difference, because leveraging the full functionality of RCS messaging can be beneficial to engage with customers on a deeper level.

In order to use RCS, the carriers, the mobile phone and the messaging application all need to support the technology. In many cases, RCS’s capabilities extend beyond messaging. The technology could integrate with the device’s address book, to see who else in a peson’s network is utilizing RCS. Furthermore, it also enables a person to share media as well as their location even during a telephone conversation.

It works with images and video, in addition to text messages, and can be used to deliver both individual or group text conversations. While it is just now starting to see broader availability, RCS was first deployed in the US by T-Mobile as Advanced Messaging.

The Evolution of the Technology Itself

Millions of people use over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger and Skype. For the user, RCS is an improvement over OTT because it will exist on every phone once the carriers have fully deployed it. There will be no need to download a specific app or join a new network to create an account in order to use it. Also, since it is based on an open standard, OTT apps may also choose to integrate it into their clients and make the RCS capabilities available within their applications as well. This ubiquity will enable consumers and marketers to connect to everyone. Having the carriers involved, who already manage enterprise messaging solutions designed to protect consumers from Spam and fraud, will help ensure that consumers can trust the messages that they receive.


Industry leaders agree that rich phone-based messaging remains central to the future of communication. New forms of mobile communication are delivering increasingly robust capabilities, including chat, photo sharing, payments and video calls; all of which will enable businesses to connect with their customers in new and exciting ways.

The GSMA, in partnership with leading mobile development companies, is now working to enable mobile operators and enterprises to use the RCS advanced communications platform to engage with customers through rich media content. This will enable businesses to use these services to seamlessly engage and transact with customers via a ubiquitous and reliable communications channel that connects everything from information to customer service and purchases.

The combination of ubiquity and standards based should allow RCS to provide all the capabilities of OTT applications with the reach of existing SMS, all through one app that will already be on the phone.  For businesses, that means they will be able to have rich interactions with all their customers, and not have to constantly invest in supporting new types of services.