The GSMA today reported significant progress with its Rich Communication Suite (RCS) initiative, a service that provides mobile operators with a feature-rich portfolio of interoperable communication services, enabling customers to access a wide range of advanced messaging applications direct from their handset’s contact list. The initiative is now supported by more than 90 leading organisations from across the mobile industry and has gained considerable momentum across a number of areas, including the launch of a pilot in Japan with five leading operators; the delivery of the RCS Release 3 specifications*; the winners of the GSMA’s DevChallenge competition; and demonstrations of RCS at the Mobile World Congress.
“The pilot in Japan and the momentum we are seeing sends out a clear message on the market potential and the willingness of mobile operators to launch next-generation multimedia services,” said Michael O’Hara, Chief Marketing Officer at the GSMA. “Users want to be able to access and share rich content between their mobile phones and their PCs, and RCS enables this through a variety of interoperable and feature-rich applications. In Japan especially, where mobile messaging is very popular, RCS will offer a value-added communications tool to consumers already used to innovative services.”
Japan’s leading mobile operators E-MOBILE, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo and SOFTBANK, together with fixed operator NTT Corp., have joined forces to start technical work on an interoperable RCS pilot in Japan. KDDI, NTT DoCoMo and SOFTBANK will build the RCS pilot solution and then test IMS interoperability from the end of March 2010. The RCS pilot will be based on technical specifications developed by the GSMA, such as the use of a broadband access client and support for a multi-device environment, which will enable consumers to access applications on both mobile phones and PCs for a seamless messaging experience.
Aude Pichelin, Chair of RCS and Director of Service Standardisation, Orange said: “As Chair of the RCS initiative, I am delighted we have launched several pilots in key global markets. Multimedia communications are becoming increasingly popular with consumers who want to share rich content with contacts in their address book, regardless of the operator. It is great to see that the pilots underway around the world are progressing, with operators working closely together to ensure interoperability. DevChallenge has also proven to be a success, and shows that RCS devices and clients are available today to support the commercial launch of next-generation multimedia services.”
According to industry research firm Infonetics Research, Rich Communication Suite service subscribers will hit 7.3 million in 2011 led by Europe and Asia. Underscoring this momentum, pilots already underway in France, Italy and Spain have made positive progress. In France, Orange, SFR and Bouygues have successfully established an RCS interconnection between three mobile operators, and the pilot has moved forward with the recruitment of 300 volunteer users who will test the service on handsets provided by two major device manufacturers. In Italy, RCS interoperability has been successfully tested between two of the country’s leading mobile operators, Telecom Italia and Wind, providing strong feedback on the acceptance by end users of the RCS user experience. In Spain, Telefónica and Orange have just announced the launch of a pre-commercial pilot for RCS, testing interoperability nationwide based on RCS Release 2 specifications.
The GSMA also announced the winners of its RCS DevChallenge competition, which is aimed at mobile and PC client developers. The goal of the competition is to encourage innovative developers to deliver the most usable and attractive RCS clients that can either be embedded in a mobile phone or used on a PC, as well as demonstrate new ideas for future RCS-based services. The winning client applications will be actively evaluated by participating mobile operators and RCS vendors for commercial use.
The competition involved 21 developers competing in three categories: Best RCS Mobile Client, Best RCS PC Client and Best RCS Innovation. The winners are:
- Best RCS Mobile Client: Ecrio (US) for ‘RCS4me’
- Best RCS PC Client: Movial (Finland) for ‘Movial Communicator’
- Best RCS Innovation: Genaker (Spain) for ‘Meet me at RCS’
For more information about RCS and the winning DevChallenge solutions, visit the App Garage, which is part of the new App Planet event at the Mobile World Congress taking place in Barcelona this week. The App Garage is showcasing demonstrations of RCS each day running on various handsets connected to the networks of Bouygues, Orange, SFR and Telefónica, using equipment provided by Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.
RCS DevChallenge is sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Orange and Telefónica. For more information please visit: www.rcsdevchallenge.com.