The GSMA has stepped up its efforts towards commercialization of Rich Communications Services (RCS), with the launch of a consumer facing brand, joyn, and a new version of the specification.
Anne Bouverot, director general of GSMA, said “joyn will act as a mark of assurance to customers that they will have simple and direct access to enriched voice and messaging services wherever they are and whatever network they are using.”
RCS is a cross operator initiative to harmonize rich address books and offer enhanced messaging and voice, video calling and the ability to share documents and photos simultaneous during calls.
The project is seen as a key way for mobile operators to compete with over-the-top players and has backed by a number of mobile operators including AT&T, Bell Mobility, Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, KT, LGU+, Orascom Telecom, Rogers Communications, SFR, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera, Telus and Verizon.
The specification, which is now at release 5.0, include support for “IP-based voice and video calling; geo-location services and cloud storage.
The Spanish arm of Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone have already started testing interoperability between their networks, with plans to launch commercial Joyn services this summer. Operators in France, Germany, Italy and Korea are also committed to commercial launches this year, the GSMA said in a statement.
"Since Rich Communications will be fully integrated in devices, there is no need for our customers to download or install anything," Deutsche Telekom chief Rene Obermann said in the statement. "Ease of use is thus ensured and it will just work. We are looking forward to offer new services like text chat, file and live video sharing during a call to our customers soon."
On the device side, manufacturers that have agreed to support RCS in their handsets include HTC, Huawei, LG, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Sony and ZTE. Infrastructure companies including Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks, Mavenir and Acme Packet have also announced their support.