A recent industry report from the GSM Association (GSMA), a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, has stated that the use of mobile devices has grown three times over in the last five years. The report further shows that amidst this ever-increasing number of mobile device users, text messaging still stands out as the most preferred channel to use in exchanging messages, which solidifies the emergence of Rich Communication Suite (RCS), a GSMA initiative aiming to develop specifications for Rich Communication Services, as a platform designed to give an improved and enhanced SMS-based experience while also being presented as an attractive offer to majority of today's end users.
Industry analysts and experts have pointed out that RCS is the future of the mobile industry, further backed by its advantages of enhanced instant messaging, video calling and the ability to share documents and photos simultaneously during calls and service discovery. The emergence of this new SMS messaging protocol has been dubbed as a technological innovation that will change the global mobile industry—allowing users access to a less complex experience that is successfully integrated with the latest communication and multimedia technologies. An example of strategic use of RCS can be seen across today's airline industry wherein companies can now send important reminders to passengers like check-in reminders, seat change options, baggage allowances tips—all accompanied with visual accompaniments to help get the intended message across.
RCS is being positioned to replace traditional text messaging with its offer of interoperability and media sharing capabilities. Best of all, it has a conversational and group messaging feature that was once only accessible through social media messaging tools like WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook Messenger.
The emergence of RCS-led developments has widely been received by the growing list of mobile operators, which now allows them a highly efficient and strategic solution to address the demands from tech-savvy users wanting to get more out of a standard messaging system. In fact, a related GSMA report shows that 65 per cent of today's smart and mobile device users prefer to communicate with companies via chat applications. With this in mind, the entry of RCS has allowed industry experts to confidently forecast that the estimated USD 60-billion SMS-based B2C market will grow to USD 74 billion in the next four years, further backed by the projection that RCS monthly active users will climb to around 150 million by the end of Q3 2017 and 220 million by Q1 2018.
Moreover, the RCS segment will continue to grow, attributing the upsurge to the continuous increase in mobile usage combined with the demand for faster multimedia communication systems that can accelerate delivery times. The strong presence of RCS will also prompt the need to constantly develop more up-to-date services and applications, which in turn, can drive in more revenue growth for international mobile operators and other concerned entities.
An example of one of the companies that are now tapping into the potential of RCS is ArpuPlus, which has revealed its move to implement an expansion of its application-to-person (A2P) SMS messaging services, developing key specifications particularly for RCS. Once complete, the new service offerings will feature enhanced instant messaging, video calling, and media file sharing during calls – all accessible from a subscriber's contact list.
As the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region move to integrate RCS into their communication platform offerings, industry experts have emphasized on the need to fast-track regional adoption in order to be at pace with the latest market trends—further ensuring that the region will be able to take its share of the enormous growth opportunities presented by the RCS segment. ArpuPlus, as earlier pointed out, will play a significant role in the unified efforts to facilitate RCS deployment in the region via leading telecom operators.
RCS is envisioned to make today's mobile phones a more powerful and essential tool for our professional and personal lives—opening a wide range of potential opportunities for expansion and significant developments.