RCS Messaging: A Review of Its Capabilities

RCS Messaging: A Review of Its Capabilities

by Mike Ricotta - December 18, 2019

SMS and MMS have been king and queen of mobile messaging for several years now, but with RCS messaging, could there be a usurper on the horizon? RCS, Rich Communication Service, is not necessarily a brand new technology but it is starting to gain traction in new devices and existing networks. 

Up until recently most devices and service providers could not support the file size that is required to share RCS messaging. That is now changing with both devices and service providers adopting the capability to send larger files. So let’s take a quick review of what RCS is and what it can do. We did a podcast on this topic if you don’t like reading.

The Start of RCS Messaging

The Rich Communication Suite industry initiative was formed in 2007, aiming to promote RCS. The following year, the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association) officially became the center for RCS definition, testing, and integration. 

In 2016, the GSMA published a Universal Profile for RCS. The profile is the globally agreed specification adopted by 47 mobile network operators, 11 manufacturers, and 2 OS providers (Google and Microsoft). Samsung and Google have been supporting RCS since 2015 and 2018 respectively. 

Based on these dates, some may be wondering why this technology hasn’t been widely adopted and in use by now. And yes while this technology isn’t new, most mobile phone networks have been slow to move on RCS messaging. This is partly due to SMS and MMS pricing structures. There are plenty of platforms that will allow you to send SMS and MMS messages for a small fee. The other reason is the lack of cross-network functionality. For this service to work, the messages would need to work across networks.

What Can RCS Do

So what can you do with RCS? Ironically, some features you may already be familiar with, as some platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have RCS like features. Video Calls, Link Previews, and Scheduling have all been part of those platforms for several years. But where RCS differs is all of these can be sent over a mobile phone network. You will no longer need to connect to Wi-Fi or use mobile data to receive these types of messages.

Here are some examples of how RCS Messages will be different than SMS or MMS.

SMS Example This is an example of a current SMS message you might send to a customer or receive from a business. Somethings to notice: Non-Branded Number, Basic Text Message coloring, Plain URL. While this is a good starting point when trying to deliver the message, it offers plenty of room for conversion errors or failures. Let’s compared this to an RCS version of the same message.
RCS Example 1 You can see that we have created a much more business-friendly message for a customer. Somethings to notice: Branded Contact Info, Branded Text Window, One Tap Scheduling. While these aren’t huge differences they reduce or eliminate most possibilities for conversion error or failure. 
RCS Example 2 Here is another example where we are sharing a recent blog post. While before this would have just been a preview of the text with a link, RCS offers more for readers to do. As you can see from their messaging app, readers could read more of the post or even sign up using Facebook or Twitter. 
RCS Example 3 Lastly, let’s look at a customer service example. In this example, you can see that RCS has the ability to send one-click responses attached to a message. Helping customers navigate a customer service tool easily and quickly.

What To Look Out For

While it is a slow process, RCS is starting to become more widespread. With each new carrier or device manufacture making it a built-in part of there offerings, you could definitely imagen a future where it becomes the new standard.  But much like how Mailchimp and others flooded users with emails and lowered open / click rates, business-focused RCS messaging might drive consumers to just ignore another form of communication with businesses.