Rich Communications Services

RCS or Rich Communications Services is a communication protocol between mobile phones and mobile networks created by Google. It is a standard that extends the features of traditional SMS. On the one hand, it allows the sending of text messaging, while on the other hand it includes functions typical of instant messaging apps. RCS supports the sending of photos, videos, voice notes, files, QR codes and call-to-action buttons, without the need for an internet connection.

This new technology was unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2016. Google and other mobile operators predicted an imminent arrival of RCS to replace classic text messaging, but this has not yet happened. Currently, they are available in the US and Canada, while in Europe and Latin America, their presence is limited.

How do Rich Communications Services work?

RCS, or Rich Communication Services, are emerging with the idea of rivalling messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram. With RCS, Google aims to improve mobile communications and replace SMS. All without the user having to download an app on their mobile phone.

RCS works in a similar way to an instant messaging chat, with the advantage that in addition to text, it allows different file formats, photos, action buttons, QR codes, maps, etc. They also offer users the possibility to make and receive payments and automate different services.

Will RCS replace SMS or Instant Messaging Apps?

At this stage, it is difficult to know whether RCS will replace SMS or instant messaging apps. What is certain is that it will not happen overnight. Rather, it is likely to be a progressive change over time. It has to be taken into account that professional SMS are used globally in business-to-customers (B2C) communication. In the same way, apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram are very popular globally and have a very strong market.

One of the negative points that exist to date is that RCS does not have the end-to-end encryption that instant messaging apps do. The only thing Google has mentioned in this regard is the possibility of deleting messages as soon as they are received by the recipients. However, this does not satisfy users.

Another question to date has to do with the cost or pricing of RCS. It is not yet known whether it will be charged per message sent or per package in mobile prices. It should be borne in mind that although Google has developed RCS, each mobile operator will be able to set the price according to its own interests. In other words, each operator will manage its own RCS services. Moreover, as of today, not all mobile operators are ready to support RCS.

Finally, there is no clear date for the launch of the service globally. In some countries, implementation is just beginning. All of this makes it difficult to replace SMS or instant messaging apps.

Mobile Operators supporting Rich Communications Services

There are currently 55 mobile operators that support or will support Rich Communications Services (RCS) in the coming months:

  • AISAirtel
  • AT&T
  • América Móvil
  • Beeline
  • Bell Mobile
  • Bharti Airtel Ltd
  • Claro
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Dodocomo
  • Etisalat
  • Globe Telecom
  • KPN
  • Megafon
  • Millicom
  • Movistar
  • MTN
  • Optus
  • Orange
  • PLAY
  • Rogers
  • Smart Communications
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Tele2
  • Telcel
  • Telenor Group
  • TeliaSonera
  • Telstra
  • Telus
  • TIM
  • Turkcell
  • Verizon
  • VimpelCom
  • Vodafone

Benefits that RCS can bring to companies

It is certainly clear that a brand can get a lot out of the use of RCS. Although as we mentioned before it is a service that is only just being implemented. We will have to wait for its use to become more widespread before we can take full advantage of it. The main advantages for a company are:

Branding

RCS can create a brand identity or branding that will have a positive impact on the organisation. Image, logo, colours and other features of rich communications services will facilitate branding, trust and quality assurance.

Engagement

The capabilities of RCS through multimedia content will bring optimal value to the customer or subscriber as never seen before. Interaction will be more direct and personalised.

Targeting and analytics

Tools are available to help measure RCS campaigns. This includes having control over relevant metrics that will allow you to effectively segment your subscriber database in order to improve customer loyalty and engagement.

Alternative to Rich Communications Services

Today, the reality is that the RCS service did not spread as widely as expected a few years ago. Therefore, a brand that aims to reach its audience efficiently will need to use other alternatives or digital communication channels.

There are digital channels that allow us to reach the audience in an effective way and generate engagement that helps us to achieve customer loyalty. Afilnet is an omni-channel platform that connects businesses with customers through bulk SMS, Email, Automated Voice Calls and WhatsApp Business. All these channels work efficiently in customer acquisition and loyalty campaigns, so if you would like us to help you optimise your marketing strategies, we would be delighted to be at your disposal.