The buzz around RCS enterprise messaging at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year was intense. The entire value chain appeared to unite in publicising various trials that showcased uplifts in click through rates compared to SMS, increased customer satisfaction rates compared to SMS and, perhaps most importantly, increased conversion rates compared to SMS. The message was clear and simple – RCS is coming; RCS works, and; RCS will work for you.

We have a reasonable idea of when RCS is coming (expect the first commercial rollouts by the end of this year on Android devices), but exactly how it will work, and how well it will work for you remain – for the moment – a little less clear.

For example, will the AI bot-driven RCS carousels work on all Android devices, or just those that use Universal Profile 1.0 and above? Will operators really want to hand over control of their messaging to Google/ Jibe, or Samsung, or do they, in fact, need a unified communications platform with integrated voice, messaging and video? Last, and by no means least, how much is this brave new world of enterprise messaging going to cost? 

The use of sessions (where multiple messages are bundled into a single time period, or multiple messages constitute a single session) rather than per event pricing in SMS would indicate that the actual messaging volume is expected to grow exponentially – no doubt sold on the basis of the increased CTRs, satisfaction and conversion. Great if you’re a mobile operator, messaging host or hub, but brands are presumably going to have to increase their enterprise messaging budgets.

In effect, RCS will provide a pure messaging environment where mobile operators remain an integral element of the value chain. Undoubtedly, RCS represents the logical evolution of messaging for mobile operators. It delivers a richer and more immersive experience, not forgetting actionable analytics on a par with data provided by OTT messaging services.

Research into the mobile operator view toward RCS, conducted last year by Mobilesquared on behalf of the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), revealed that two-thirds of mobile operators have or plan to invest in RCS over the next couple of years. 

By early March 2018 a total of 55 networks had launched RCS services in 40 countries, according to the GSM Association (GSMA)
. Another 40 or so RCS launches have already been announced, and the GSM expects over 200 network operators to have launched RCS by 1Q 2019. To date, the GSMA says there are around 159 million monthly active users (MAUs) of RCS services, and forecasts this number will to rise to approximately 1.05 billion by 1Q 2019.

According to Mobilesquared’s modelling, based on conversations with industry and the GSMA, we forecast a total of 874.85 million RCS-capable users will accessible by end-2018 over 161 networks, rising to 1.53 billion MAUs over 299 networks by end-2019 - and almost 2.5 billion users by end 2021. 

Source: Mobilesquared

Messaging & SMS Network 
Sunday 6 May 2018
International Telecoms Week (ITW), Chicago, USA

We’ll be discussing RCS and how other major consumer, technology and regulatory developments are impacting A2P messaging and enterprise communications at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum’s 'Future of Messaging Workshop' at Messaging & SMS Network at ITW 2018

I’ll be moderating a session that explores the opportunities and challenges these changes are creating for the messaging ecosystem and looks at the potential to disrupt established business models. Speakers includes executives from Google, RealNetworks and Infinite Convergence. 

Messaging & SMS Network is free for ITW attendees.


Gavin brings twenty-five years’ experience in technology, media and telecoms journalism, research and analysis, to Mobilesquared. He has authored numerous articles and reports covering diverse mobile markets and strategies, spoken at leading global mobile conferences, and developed Mobilesquared’s proprietary data forecasting tool. Before joining Mobilesquared, Gavin held analyst roles including Research Director at Dataxis, and Principal Analyst and Editorial Director at Informa Telecoms & Media (now Ovum). Prior to that, he was a senior business journalist covering the Asian market as the Business Editor of the Hong Kong Standard, and the Financial Editor of the Eastern Express.

About MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme 

Taking a cross-ecosystem approach, MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme provides a unique opportunity to unite all parties within the mobile messaging ecosystem, to achieve a common goal to promote and accelerate best practices in order to limit fraudulent behaviours and identify new opportunities for mobile messaging.

The self-funded initiative supports all stakeholders to advance and protect the Future of Messaging and is part of MEF’s long-term commitment to advocate industry best practice and good regulation across the mobile ecosystem.

Phase 2 of the Programme rolls out in Q4 2017 and sees the industry collaborating to intensify its impact, by creating practical solutions to tackle the fraud types identified and build trust in enterprise messaging.