Rich Communication Services

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Rich Communication Services
Developer(s) GSM Association
Initial release 2012
Operating system Android, Windows 8
Available in Multilingual
Type Instant Messaging
License Proprietary software

Rich Communication Services (RCS)[1] is a communication protocol between mobile-telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is richer, provides phonebook polling (for service discovery), and transmit in-call multimedia.

It is also marketed as Advanced Messaging, Advanced Communications,[2] joyn,[3] Message+ and SMS+[4].


The Rich Communication Suite industry initiative[5] was formed by a group of industry promoters in 2007. In February 2008 the GSM Association officially became the project ‘home’ of RCS and an RCS steering committee was established by the organisation.

The scope of the steering committee’s work was to entail the definition, testing, and integration of the services in the application suite known as RCS.[6][7][8] Three years later, the RCS project released a new specification – RCS-e (e = ‘enhanced’), which included various iterations of the original RCS specifications. The GSMA program is now called Rich Communication Services.[9]

The GSMA published the Universal Profile in November 2016.[10] The Universal Profile is a globally agreed, single GSMA specification for advanced communications. Carriers that deploy the Universal Profile guarantee interconnection with other carriers. 47 mobile network operators, 11 manufacturers, and 2 OS providers (Google and Microsoft) have announced their support.[11] Google's Jibe Cloud platform is an implementation of the RCS Universal Profile, designed to help carriers launch RCS quickly and scale easily.[12]

Samsung is the major device OEM to support RCS globally. Samsung RCS capable devices have been commercially launched in Europe since 2012 and in the United States since 2015.

Google supports RCS on Android devices with the Android Messages app. In April 2018, it was reported that Google would be transferring the team that was working on its Google Allo messaging service to work on a wider RCS implementation, which will be marketed under the branding Chat.[13][14][15]

RCS specifications[edit]

RCS combines different services defined by 3GPP and Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) with an enhanced phonebook. Another phone's capabilities and presence information can be discovered and displayed by a mobile phone. RCS reuses 3GPP specified IMS core system as the underlying service platform taking care of issues such as authentication, authorization, registration, charging and routing.

Universal Profile RCS has had one release, and currently has one scheduled:[16]

Release 1 (November 2016)
Includes core features such as capability discovery which will be interoperable between regions, chat, group chat, file transfer, audio messaging, video share, multi-device, enriched calling, location share and live sketching.
Release 2 (July 2017)
Includes Messaging as a Platform, APIs, plug-in integration and improved authentication and app security.

Prior to Universal Profile, five releases of the RCS specifications were made. 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
Global interoperability is a key aspect of these specifications.

The following standardized services are a part of the specifications of RCS:[17]

The GSMA defined a series of specific implementations of the 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 RCS specifications aim to define a more specific implementation that promote standardization 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 Telefónica 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 - Already available in GSMA web page.


According to GSMA PR, Rich Communication Services (RCS) carriers from around the globe supporting the RCS standard include AT&T, Bell Mobility, Bharti Airtel, Deutsche Telekom, Jio, KPN, KT Corporation, LG U+), Orange, Orascom Telecom, Rogers Communications, SFR, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telia Company, Telus, Verizon and Vodafone.[18]

Universal Profile is currently backed by 60 supporters:[19]

RCS launches
Operator Country Launch date Note
Vodafone  Spain 2012 [20] Launched the beta version of RCS at beginning of 2012, branded as joyn.
Movistar  Spain June 2012 [20] Branded as joyn.
Vodafone  Germany August 2012 [20][21] First Branded as joyn. Since November 2013 Message+.
Orange  Spain November 2012 [20] Branded as joyn.
MetroPCS  United States November 2012 [20] Branded as joyn.
KT  South Korea December 2012 [20][22] Branded as joyn.
LG U+  South Korea December 2012 [20][22] Branded as joyn.
SK Telecom  South Korea December 2012 [20][22] Branded as joyn.
Deutsche Telekom  Germany February 2013 [20] Branded as Message+[23]
Telcel  Mexico February 2013 [20] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Argentina May 2013 [20] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Colombia May 2013 [20] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Peru May 2013 [20] Branded as joyn.
Orange  France June 2013 [20] Branded as joyn. Service was interrupted as of November 14, 2017[24].
Claro  Brazil August 2013 [20] Branded as joyn.
Claro  Ecuador August 2013 [20] Branded as joyn.
Sprint  United States October 2013 Launched as a separate application
Vodafone  Albania April 2014 [25] Branded as Message+.
Telekom  Romania June 2014 [26][27] Branded as joyn.
Vodafone  Czech Republic June 2014 [20] Branded as Message+.
Slovak Telekom  Slovakia June 2014 [26][27] Branded as joyn.
Vodafone  UK September 2014 [28][29] Branded as Message+.
Orange  Slovakia March 2015 [26][27] Branded as joyn.

[30] Since July 2018 branded as Chat - Universal profile

O2  Germany 2015 [31] Branded as Message+Call.
T-Mobile US  United States July 2015 [32] Branded as Advanced Messaging.
AT&T  United States November 2015 Branded as Advanced Messaging and Video Call.[33][34]
MTS  Russia December 2015 [35] Branded as MTS Connect.
Jio  India September 2016 [36] Branded as Jio4GVoice.
Sprint  United States November 2016 [37] Branded as RCS. Universal Profile.
Rogers Wireless  Canada December 2016 Universal Profile.
Fido Solutions  Canada December 2016 Universal Profile.
Telenor Europe and Asia February 2017 Universal Profile.[38]
Vodafone Multiple markets February 2017 [39] Universal Profile.[40]
Telstra  Australia October 2017 Branded as Telstra Messaging.[41]
Telia Company  Sweden December 2017 Branded as SMS+.[42]
NTT Docomo  Japan May 2018 Branded as +Message.[43]
KDDI  Japan May 2018 Branded as +Message.[43]
SoftBank Corp.  Japan May 2018 Branded as +Message.[43]

GSMA RCS accreditation[edit]

The RCS Interop and Testing (IOT) accreditation process [44] 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.[45]

"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.[45]. Android Messages from Google has never been GSMA accredited while Samsung, WIT, SumitTech and many other client and network vendors have been accredited.


Amnesty International researcher Joe Westby criticized RCS for not allowing end-to-end encryption, because it is treated as a service of carriers and thus subject to possible surveillance.[46][47]


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  5. ^ Joyn, un servicio de mensajería instantánea limitado a las operadoras móviles -
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  8. ^ Operators, Ecosystem & Hosted Solutions | Network 2020 Archived 2 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
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  21. ^ "WhatsApp-Konkurrent: Vodafone startet mit Message+" (in German). teltarif. 2013-11-08. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
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  47. ^ "Google's new chat service won't be secure like iMessage and WhatsApp: Amnesty International". The Indian Express. 2018-04-22. Retrieved 2018-04-24. 

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