Telefónica, Orange and Vodafone challenge OTT services with Spanish Joyn launch

Spain's three largest operators are banding together to launch rich communication services (RCS) in an effort to compete with OTT providers such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp.

Spain's largest operators have launched GSMA-backed Joyn service to counter OTT players.

Telefónica's Movistar, Orange Spain and Vodafone Spain said in a statement that the new Joyn services will enable mobile users to exchange images or video simultaneously during calls with any member of their contact list that has Joyn, regardless of the user's network or mobile device.

The new RCS services will initially be available for Android-based smartphones, although an iPhone version will be launched soon. The service will also add additional features such as IP video calls using the cellular or Wi-Fi networks.

Commenting on the launch of this GSMA-backed initiative, GSMA CMO Michael O'Hara said he was delighted that Joyn services are now available across Spain.

"This initial implementation of a new technology clearly required a major effort and strong leadership in the alignment of the ecosystem of manufacturers, developers and integrators, and operators. Consumers across the world will benefit from the leading efforts of these three operators in Spain," O'Hara said in a statement.

This joint action by the three operators comes as the number of paid-for text messages continues to fall sharply as Spanish consumers look to cut costs, and move to "free" messaging services from developers such as WhatsApp.

The Spanish telecoms regulator recently announced that the number of paid-for text messages sent in Spain dropped to 1.5 billion in the second quarter of 2012, from 1.9 billion in the year-ago period, according to Reuters.

Operators across Europe and elsewhere are expected to launch RCS-based services in the future, with Germany ready to go within weeks and other European operators in 2013.  "This is the beginning of something that will cross most operators in most countries," Graham Trickey, senior projects director at the GSMA, told Reuters.

No details have been provided on how the three Spanish operators will charge for Joyn services, with the initial effort mainly focused on maintaining customer loyalty. "It's possible that in the future we could launch new added-value services that could be paid for, for example better quality video calls," a spokeswoman for Orange Spain told Reuters.

For more:
- see this GSMA statement
- see this Reuters article
- see this El Economista article (translated via Google Translate)

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