Rich Communication Services

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Developer(s) GSM Association
Initial release 2012
Development status Active
Operating system Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8
Available in Multilingual
Type Instant Messaging
License Proprietary software

The Rich Communication Services program is a global initiative to deploy inter-operator services within an industry ecosystem. Created by the GSM Association (GSMA), Rich Communication Services are designed to offer richer yet simpler communication services supported by a strong ecosystem and a variety of architecture implementation options.[GSMA 1]

Marketed by the GSMA under the brand name joyn™,[GSMA 2] RCS is an upgrade that marks the transition of messaging and voice capabilities from circuit switching technology to an all-IP world. RCS and Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) share the same IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) investment and leverage the same IMS capabilities. Interoperability between different terminal vendor RCS clients and RCS service interworking between operators are the key aims of the RCS Initiative,[GSMA 3] supported either by IMS deployments or by hosted RCS solutions.[1]

For consumers, it has the potential to combine voice and SMS with instant messaging or chat, live video sharing and file transfer across all devices and networks.

Main features of RCS are:

  • Enhanced Phonebook: service capabilities and enhanced contacts information such as presence and service discovery.
  • Enhanced Messaging: enables a large variety of messaging options including chat, emoticons, location share and file sharing.
  • Enriched Calls: enables multimedia content sharing during a voice call, video call and video sharing (see what I see)

The service was launched free of charge, but will be a paid service in the future.[2]

It is more limited than its competitors, because it is only available to some telecommunications carriers.[2]


It was originally known as Rich Communication Suite.

RCS specifications[edit]

RCS leverages the various existing standards, thus RCS takes on board different services defined by e.g. 3GPP and Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) and combines them with the Enhanced Phonebook. This allows the service capabilities as well as presence information of the different recipients to be shown in the terminal phonebook application.

RCS reuses the capabilities of 3GPP specified IMS core system as the underlying service platform taking care of issues such as authentication, authorization, registration, charging and routing.

Five releases of the RCS specifications have been made to date. Each release expanded the scope of its predecessor.

Release 1
Offered the first definitions for the enrichment of voice and chat with content sharing, driven from an RCS enhanced address book.
Release 2
Added broadband access to RCS features: enhancing the messaging and enabling sharing of files.
Release 3
Focused on the broadband device as a primary device.
Release 4
Included support for LTE.
Release 5
The most recent release, global interoperability is a key aspect of these specifications.

The following standardized services are a part of the specifications of RCS:[3]

joyn specifications[edit]

The GSMA has defined a series of joyn specifications that define specific implementations of the underlying RCS specifications. The RCS specifications often define a number of options for implementing individual communications features, resulting in challenges in delivering interoperable services between carriers. The joyn specifications aim to define a more specific implementation that promote standardisation and simplify interconnection between carriers.

At this time there are two major relevant releases:

  • joyn Hot Fixes - based upon the RCS 1.2.2 specification (previously known as RCS-e), this includes 1:1 chat, group chat, MSRP file sharing and video sharing (during a circuit switched call). Services based upon this specification are live in Spain, France and Germany.
  • joyn Blackbird Drop 1 - based upon the RCS 5.1 specification, this extends the joyn Hot Fixes service to include HTTP file sharing, location sharing, group file sharing, and other capabilities such as group chat store and forward. joyn Blackbird Drop 1 is backward compatible with joyn Hot Fixes. Vodafone Spain's network is accredited for joyn Blackbird Drop 1, and Telefonica and Orange Spain have also been involved in interoperability testing with vendors of joyn Blackbird Drop 1 clients. A number of client vendors are accredited to joyn Blackbird Drop 1.

Two or more future releases are planned:

  • joyn Blackbird Drop 2 - also based upon the RCS 5.1 specification, this will primarily add IP voice and video calling. The test cases for joyn Blackbird Drop 2 have yet to be released by the GSMA.
  • joyn Crane - this specification has yet to be released.


The Rich Communication Suite (RCS) industry initiative was formed by a group of leading industry players in 2007. In February 2008 the GSMA officially became the project ‘home’ of RCS and an RCS Steering Committee was established by the organisation.

The scope of the RCS Steering Committee’s work was to entail the definition, testing and integration of the diverse services in the application suite known as RCS. Some three years later, the RCS project released a new specification – RCS-e (e = ‘enhanced’) as well as the various iterations of the original RCS specifications and the programme is now called Rich Communication Services.[4]

Rich Communication Services (RCS), which provide Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with a means of transitioning voice and messaging services into an all-IP and LTE world, has gathered significant pace in America, Asia and Europe. Carriers from the around the globe supporting the RCS standard include AT&T, Bell Mobility, Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, KT Corporation, LG U+), Orange, Orascom Telecom, Rogers Communications, SFR, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, TeliaSonera, Telus, Verizon and Vodafone.[5]


Operator Country Launch date Note
Vodafone  Spain 2012 [6] Launched the beta version of RCS at beginning of 2012, branded as joyn.
Movistar  Spain June 2012 [6] Branded as joyn.
Vodafone  Germany August 2012 [6][7] First Branded as joyn. Since November 2013 Message+.
Orange  Spain November 2012 [6] Branded as joyn.
MetroPCS  United States November 2012 [6] Branded as joyn.
KT  Korea December 2012 [6][8] Branded as joyn.
LG U+  Korea December 2012 [6][8] Branded as joyn.
SK Telecom  Korea December 2012 [6][8] Branded as joyn.
Deutsche Telekom  Germany February 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Telcel  Mexico February 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Argentina May 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Colombia May 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Peru May 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Orange  France June 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Brazil August 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Ecuador August 2013 [6] Branded as joyn.
Sprint  United States October 2013 [6][9] Messaging Plus - built by Jibe Mobile.
Vodafone  Albania April 2014 [10] Branded as Message+.
Cosmote  Romania June 2014 [11][12] Branded as joyn - powered by Jibe Mobile.
Slovak Telekom  Slovakia June 2014 [11][12] Branded as joyn - powered by Jibe Mobile.
O2  Germany 2014 [13] Planned.

GSMA RCS accreditation[edit]

The RCS Interop and Testing (IOT) accreditation process was started by the GSMA in order to improve the quality of testing, increase transparency, drive scale, minimize complexity and accelerate time-to-market (TTM) of joyn services. Companies need to undertake the IOT process from the GSMA to apply for a license to use the service mark joyn.

"Accredited" means that the device, client or network has undertaken a series of test cases (150 to 300) in a specific set of conditions, provided test results and traces that have been analysed by the GSMA RCS IOT team and any IOT issues arising resolved with the submitter.[14]

"Accreditation Ready" is the designation awarded to a hosted RCS service that has undertaken the same series of test cases as mobile network operator operator, provided test results and traces that have been analysed by the GSMA RCS IOT team and any IOT issues arising resolved with the submitter. This designation is used to allow operators to identify hosted solutions that will allow them to be become "Accredited" rapidly.[14]

NewPace Technology Development's hosted RCS Solution was the first vendor in the RCS ecosystem to receive GSMA accreditation for its RCS-e (1.2.2) rcsCloudConnect 3.x product. They were also the first to achieve accreditation for their rcsCloudConnect 4.x solution which provides all joyn 'Blackbird' and RCS 5.1 features.

Openmind Networks hosted RCS Solution was the first European vendor to receive GSMA accreditation.

Ecosystem accreditation[edit]

Accreditation is currently available to mobile network operators, hosted solution providers, RCS client manufacturers, RCS secondary client manufacturers, and API-based RCS products. The list of currently accredited operators and products, including details of their level of accreditation (e.g. provisional or full, joyn Hot Fixes or joyn Blackbird), is maintained on the GSMA website.[15]



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Joyn, un servicio de mensajería instantánea limitado a las operadoras móviles -
  3. ^ "RCS Specifications". GSMA. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Rich Communications – past, present & future". GSMA. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Mobile Operators Show Increased Momentum In Rich Communications". PR Newswire. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "RCS Fact October 2013" (PDF). GSMA. 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2014-03-09. 
  7. ^ "WhatsApp-Konkurrent: Vodafone startet mit Message+" (in German). teltarif. 2013-11-08. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  8. ^ a b c "Korean operators launch joyn service". Telecompaper. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Sprint goes OTT with 'Messaging Plus' app from Jibe". FierceWireless. 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2014-03-09. 
  10. ^ "Vodafone Albania introduces monthly bundle, Message+". Telecompaper. 2014-04-28. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  11. ^ a b c "Jibe Mobile powers Deutsche Telekom joyn expansion in Romania and Slovakia" Fierce Wireless. 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2014-07-02.
  12. ^ a b "Cosmote Romania, Slovak Telekom launch Joyn apps". Telecompaper. 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  13. ^ Hans-Georg Kluge (2014-03-04). "o2-Forum: Joyn startet Mitte März - Statement spricht vom ersten Halbjahr 2014" (in German). Retrieved 2014-03-09. 
  14. ^ a b "GSMA RCS Interop and Testing". GSMA. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  15. ^
  1. ^ "Rich Communications". GSMA. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "About joyn". GSMA. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Strategic Rationale". GSMA. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 

External links[edit]