Rich Communication Services

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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 can transmit in-call multimedia. It is part of broader IP Multimedia Subsystem.

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

History[edit]

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 its Android SMS app Messages. 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.[13][14][15] In June 2019, Google announced that it would begin to deploy RCS on an opt-in basis via the Messages app, with an RCS-compliant service hosted by Google rather than the user's carrier. The rollout of this functionality will begin in France and the United Kingdom, and it will be compatible with other RCS implementations compliant with the Universal Profile. In response to concerns over the lack of end-to-end encryption in RCS, Google stated that it would only retain message data in transit until it is delivered to the recipient.[16]

In October 2019, the four major U.S. carriers announced an agreement to form the "Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative" to jointly implement RCS using a newly-developed app. This service will be compatible with the Universal Profile.[17]

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.

Release 1 Version 1.0 (15.12.2008)
Offered the first definitions for the enrichment of voice and chat with content sharing, driven from an RCS enhanced address book.
Release 2 Version 1.0 (31.08.2009)
Added broadband access to RCS features: enhancing the messaging and enabling sharing of files.
Release 3 Version 1.0 (25.02.2010)
Focused on the broadband device as a primary device.
Release 4 Version 1.0 (14.02.2011)
Included support for LTE.
Release 5 Version 1.0 (19.04.2012)
RCS 5.0 is completely backward compatible with RCS-e V1.2 specifications and also includes features from RCS 4 and new features such as IP video call, IP voice call and Geo-location exchange. Global interoperability is a key aspect of these specifications, and RCS5.0 supports both OMA CPM and OMA SIMPLE IM. RCS 5.0 includes following features listed below.
  • Standalone Messaging
  • 1-2-1 Chat
  • Group Chat
  • File Transfer
  • Content Sharing
  • Social Presence Information
  • IP Voice call (IR92 and IR.58)
  • IP Video call (IR.94)
  • Geolocation Exchange
  • Capability Exchange based on Presence or SIP OPTIONS
Release 5.1
5.1 is completely backward compatible with the RCS-e V1.2 and RCS 5.0 specifications. It introduces additional new features such as Group Chat Store & Forward, File Transfer in Group Chat, File Transfer Store & Forward, and Best Effort Voice Call, as well as lessons-learnt and bug fixes from the V1.2 interoperability testing efforts. Global interoperability is a key aspect of these specifications, and 5.1 supports both OMA CPM and OMA SIMPLE IM.
  • Version 1.0 (13.08.2012)
  • Version 2.0 (03.05.2013)
  • Version 3.0 (25.09.2013)
  • Version 4.0 (28.11.2013)
Release 5.2 Version 5.0 (07.05.2014)
Improved central message store and introduced service extension tags into the specification. It also introduced a number of incremental improvements and bug fixes to RCS 5.1 V4.0 that improve the user experience and resolve issues that were noticed in deployed RCS networks
Release 5.3 Version 6.0 (28.02.2015)
Release 6.0 Version 7.0 (21.03.2016)
Support for Visual Voice Mail and more
Release 7.0 Version 8.0 (28.06.2017)
Support for Chatbots, SMS fallback features and more
Release 8.0 Version 9.0 (16.05.2018)
Support for additional Chatbots features and vCard 4.0

RCS-e (enhanced)[edit]

Initial Version (May 2011)
Version 1.2 (28.11.2011)
Version 1.2.2 (04.07.2012)

joyn[edit]

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.

RCS Universal Profile[edit]

The GSMA's Universal Profile is a single, industry-agreed set of features and technical enablers developed to simplify the product development and global operator deployment of RCS.[11]

Version 1.0 (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.
Version 2.0 (July 2017)
Includes Messaging as a Platform, APIs, plug-in integration and improved authentication and app security.
Version 2.1 (December 2017)
Version 2.2 (May 2018)
Version 2.3 (December 2018)
Version 2.4 (October 2019)
Removes plug-in integration and includes integrated seamless webview.

Status[edit]

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 68 supporters:[19]

RCS launches[20]
Operator Country Launch date Note
Movistar  Spain June 2012 [21] Branded as joyn.
MetroPCS  United States November 2012 [21] Branded as joyn.
KT  South Korea December 2012 [21][22] Branded as joyn.
LG U+  South Korea December 2012 [21][22] Branded as joyn.
SK Telecom  South Korea December 2012 [21][22] Branded as joyn.
Deutsche Telekom  Germany February 2013 [21] Branded as Message+[23]
Telcel  Mexico February 2013 [21] Branded as joyn.
Claro Multiple markets May 2013 [21] Branded as joyn.
Sprint  United States October 2013 Launched as a separate application
U.S. Cellular  United States October 2018 Universal Profile [24]
Telekom  Romania June 2014 [25][26] Branded as joyn.
Slovak Telekom  Slovakia June 2014 [25][26] Branded as joyn.
O2  Germany 2015 [27] Branded as Message+Call.
T-Mobile US  United States July 2015 [28] Branded as Advanced Messaging.
AT&T  United States November 2015 Branded as Advanced Messaging and Video Call.[29][30]
MTS  Russia December 2015 [31] Branded as MTS Connect.
Jio  India September 2016 [32] Branded as Jio4GVoice.
Sprint  United States November 2016 [33] Branded as RCS. Universal Profile.
Rogers Wireless  Canada December 2016 Universal Profile.
Fido Solutions  Canada December 2016 Universal Profile.
Telenor Multiple markets February 2017 Universal Profile.[34]
Vodafone Multiple markets 2012-2017 [35] Universal Profile.[36]

[21][37][38][39][40] First Branded as joyn. Since November 2013 Message+.

Telstra  Australia October 2017 Branded as Telstra Messaging.[41]
Telia Company  Sweden December 2017 Branded as SMS+.[42]
Telia Company  Norway February 2018 Branded as SMS+.[42]
Globe Telecom  Philippines February 2018 Universal Profile
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]
Freedom Mobile  Canada October 2018 Universal Profile.
Verizon  United States December 2018 Branded as Chat and launched as part of Android's default Messenger app with initial rollout for Pixel 3 phones
Google Fi  United States January 2019 Universal Profile.
Telekom Albania  Albania Universal Profile.
Bell  Canada Universal Profile.
China Mobile  China Universal Profile.
Orange Multiple markets 2012-2017 Branded as Chat Messages in Romania[44], joyn elsewhere[21][25][26].

[45]Since July 2018 branded as Chat - Universal profile in Slovakia.

[46]Service in France was interrupted as of November 14, 2017.

COSMOTE  Greece Universal Profile.
Telekom  Hungary Universal Profile.
Celcom  Malaysia Universal Profile.
Vodacom  South Africa Universal Profile.
Illinois Valley Cellular  United States Universal Profile.
Tiercel Wireless  United States Universal Profile.
TracFone Wireless  United States Universal Profile.

GSMA RCS accreditation[edit]

The RCS Interop and Testing (IOT) accreditation process [47] 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.[48]

"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.[48] .

Reception[edit]

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.[49][50]

The Verge criticized the inconsistent support of RCS in the United States, with carriers not supporting RCS in all markets, not certifying service on all phones, or not yet supporting the Universal Profile. Concerns were shown over Google's decision to run its own RCS service due to the possibility of antitrust scrutiny, but it was acknowledged that Google had to do so in order to bypass the carriers' inconsistent support of RCS, as it wanted to have a service more comparable to Apple's iMessage service available on Android.[16][51]

Ars Technica also criticized Google's move to launch a direct-to-consumer RCS service, considering it a contradiction of RCS being native to the carrier to provide features reminiscent of messaging apps, counting it as being among various past and unsuccessful attempts by Google to develop an in-house messaging service (including Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, Hangouts, and Allo), and noting limitations such as its dependencies on phone numbers as the identity, not being capable of being readily synchronized between multiple devices, and the aforementioned lack of end-to-end encryption.[52]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Advanced Messaging - Network 2020". Network 2020. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  3. ^ "About joyn". GSMA. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  4. ^ "SMS+ - Telia.se". Telia.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  5. ^ PALOU, NACHO (12 June 2012). "Joyn, un servicio de mensajería instantánea limitado a las operadoras móviles". RTVE.es.
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  17. ^ Bohn, Dieter (24 October 2019). "AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have finally agreed to replace SMS with a new RCS standard". The Verge. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
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  19. ^ "Universal profile - Network 2020". Network 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  20. ^ "Global Launches - Future Networks". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "RCS Fact October 2013" (PDF). GSMA. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
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  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  31. ^ "MTS Connect". MTS. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  32. ^ "RCS launches" (PDF). GSMA. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
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  34. ^ "Partnering with Telenor to launch RCS messaging in Europe and Asia". Google. 16 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  35. ^ "Global Launches - Future Networks". GSMA. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
  36. ^ "Delivering RCS messaging to Android users worldwide". Google. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  37. ^ "WhatsApp-Konkurrent: Vodafone startet mit Message+" (in German). teltarif. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  38. ^ "Vodafone Albania introduces monthly bundle, Message+". Telecompaper. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  39. ^ "Understanding Message+ and RCS: Why we're giving you the future of texting before anyone else". Vodafone UK. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  40. ^ "Your texts and chat messages - all in one place". Vodafone UK. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  41. ^ "Telstra Messaging FAQs - Telstra Crowdsupport - 713814". crowdsupport.telstra.com.au. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  42. ^ a b "Telia Company partners with Google for Improved Messaging Service". www.teliacompany.com. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
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  44. ^ "Orange anunţă Chat Messages, serviciu bazat pe standardul RCS". Orange.ro. 16 October 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  45. ^ Živé.sk. "Orange podporuje Chat v Androide. Konkurenciu pre Viber či Messenger (Slovak)". Živé.sk. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
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  47. ^ "Accreditation and Certification". 14 November 2017.
  48. ^ a b "GSMA RCS Interop and Testing". GSMA. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
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  50. ^ "Google's new chat service won't be secure like iMessage and WhatsApp: Amnesty International". The Indian Express. 22 April 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  51. ^ Bohn, Dieter (9 May 2019). "With the Pixel 3A, T-Mobile just proved how broken the RCS Chat rollout has become". The Verge. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  52. ^ Amadeo, Ron (18 June 2019). "Google's ninth attempt at a messaging service will be based on RCS". Ars Technica. Retrieved 19 June 2019.

External links[edit]