GSMA, Google and global carriers back new messaging standard

App-like messaging standard, RCS, offers read receipts and photo-sharing

Texting on iPhone

Google, industry body GSMA and nearly 20 mobile companieshave come together to bring Rich Communication Services (RCS) to smartphone users across the world.

The technology supersedes SMS messaging - more commonly known as text messaging - by bringing features like delivery and read receipts, group chat, and high-res photo sharing to smartphones as standard features.

This will provide a more "app-like" feel, allowing standard, built-in messaging services to rival the likes of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Apple Messages, the latter of which supports SMS as well as its own technology.

Standardising RCS would allow mobile operators to implement the technology consistently across networks and devices, as well as providing a consistent set of features, said the GSMA.

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"RCS continues to experience organic growth around the world, with 47 operators in 34 countries having launched services to date. However, this initiative will greatly simplify and accelerate adoption of the technology," said Alex Sinclair, CTO of GSMA.

"Google's contributions will provide operators a new opportunity for a rich, consistent implementation across Android devices and offer a real step change in messaging experiences for consumers worldwide," he added.

Google's involvement stems at least in part from the fact that it will provide the RCS client for its mobile OS, Android, which GSMA pointed out is used by numerous handset manufacturers.

GSMA claimed that this will reduce time to market for the roll out of RCS, with Google making the client open source based on the agreed universal standard. Google will also provide open APIs to "enhance the RCS client experience".

Additionally, mobile operators will have the option of either building their own RCS infrastructure or using Google Jibe, its hosted cloud platform.

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