Google gets GSMA, operator backing for RCS messaging push

Despite the prevalence of Internet-based instant messaging, like that used by Facebook, LINE, and iMessage, SMS remains the most basic way people communicate with their smartphones. Some tech pundits believe that it's time for it to give way to the next generation. One of those is Google, who has heavily invested on RCS or Rich Communication Services. Now, however, it isn't alone anymore. The GSM Association or GSMA, along with more than a dozen operators, have agreed to help push RCS. And adopt Google's RCS Android app as well.

As the name implies, RCS is meant to be a modern communication service that incorporates many of the current practices and technologies already in use in the market. For example, An Enhanced Phonebook not only lists contacts but also shows their presence or status. Enhanced Messaging is pretty much instant messaging with all the emoticons and file sharing. And Enhanced Calling adds video calls and screen sharing to voice calls.

Google has been one of the few major proponents of this technology, as can be seen in its acquisition of Jibe, a company focused on RCS. But to make RCS a standard, one would necessarily require the cooperation of carriers and network operators. That's where the GSMA comes in, rallying a host of operators to the cause of RCS.

As part of the "industry-wide push", the operators will adopt Google's Android RCS client as the sort of standard implementation for an RCS app, which definitely puts Google in a very advantageous position. Google, however, will have to design the app to fit the universal RCS profile that is based on the GSMA's own RCS specification. As part of that process, Google will include advanced calling features in its Android client in the future.

Whether RCS will soon take the industry by storm thanks to this stronger push is another question entirely. Operators, however, have it in their best interests to move swiftly. "Over the top" instant messaging services have made SMS partly irrelevant, which, in turn, has affected that part of operators' revenues.