RCS ( Rich Communication Suite ) For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find the answer to this one. After much information gathering, I understood that majority of communication platform provider’s mostly OTT such as iMessage from apple, RBM(RCS Business Messaging) already supports these features. And it is partially a term coined by Google…
For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to find the answer to this one. After much information gathering, I understood that majority of communication platform provider’s mostly OTT such as iMessage from apple, RBM(RCS Business Messaging) already supports these features. And it is partially a term coined by Google to bring smart communication features in Android and other smartphones. In essence, RCSe is a part of the broader IMS architecture published by GSMA.
Update: after 2019 plenty of carriers also already provide RCSe as a replacement for SMS. OEM providers like Samsung also have RCS feature inbuild in phones.
Rich Communications should be viewed as technology upgrade that will transition SMS and voice capabilities from Circuit Switched technologies into the all-IP world, including VoLTE. RCS and VoLTE are build over IMS technology. The RCS wil benifit from Standardization of the technical environment, shared by all industry players, to offer these services on a wide range of handsets
The Rich Communication Services programme is a global initiative to deploy inter-operator services within an industry ecosystem. Marketed by the GSMA under the brand name joyn, RCS is an upgrade that marks the transition of messaging and voice capabilities from Circuit Switched technology to an all-IP world.Wider and large scale IMS deployment, interoperability between different terminal vendor RCS clients and RCS service interworking between operators are the key aims of the RCS Initiative.
In the face of new and innovative over the top messaging applications, mobile operators are experiencing declining SMS usage. With the launch of WiFi and VoIP enabled voice calling applications, similar declines in voice revenues are increasing, RCS presents and opportunity for telecom providers to rebrand their messaging solutions as a better product to compete against the growing influence of “Over-The-Top” (OTT) communications services providers.
Enhanced Phonebook: service capabilities and enhanced contacts information such as presence and service discovery.
Enhanced Messaging: enables a large variety of messaging options including chat, emoticons, location share and file sharing.
Enriched Calls: enables multimedia content sharing during a voice call, video call and video sharing (see what I see).
Rich Communication Suite (RCS) and RCS-e aim to seamlessly unify the communications experience by integrating traditional mobile telephony with new interactive services such as presence, instant messaging and content sharing enabled by the enhanced address book of the mobile phone. RCS leverages the 3GPP IMS architecture and uses SIP signalling to establish sessions to exchange instant messages, presence information, video and files
Five releases of the RCS specifications have been made to date. Each release expanded the scope of its predecessor.
Release 1 : Offered the first definitions for the enrichment of voice and chat with content sharing, driven from an RCS enhanced address book.
Release 2 : Added broadband access to RCS features: enhancing the messaging and enabling sharing of files.
Release3: Focused on the broadband device as a primary device.
Release4: Included support for LTE.
Release5: The most recent release, global interoperability is a key aspect of these specifications.
As the team developed a web client for making and receiving SIP calls over websockets through a proxy SIP server , I felt its an achievement big enough. To integrate it with RCS ( Rich Communication Suite ) stack appeared as a very complicated job .
I began by adding RCS specific standards modules one by one instead of importing the whole stack / library all together. The modules for XCAP for buddylist, MSRP for file transfer, geolocation mapping , cloud sync of phonebook and message book have begun taking shape . In essence following features set are expected out of a RCS enabled Client ( short outline ) Provisioning
OAUTH integration with operator customer portal
RCS HTTP Auto-Configuration
Manual IMS credentials, typically reserved for testing / troubleshooting
Pblished under Joyn in GSMS RDC Developer documents. There are many individual RCS APIs available. Brief details are as follows.
1. Log user in and out of the RCS server : Allows address book contacts to receive periodic updates of user availability for chat, file transfer and other services. This is essential for use of the RCS services.
2. Subscribe application to server-originated notifications :This is one of the most important aspects of RCS as events are asynchronous; the notifications channel is used by your application to know how an API call is proceeding and to receive updates from other users such as messages, files and status updates. You can subscribe to certain types of notifications if your application is focused on particular RCS services.
3. Network address book access and management : RCS provides each registered user with a server managed address book. Though the other APIs are not restricted to contacts in the network address book this makes it much more convenient to connect with other users. The network address book can have contacts added, removed, attributes changed, and is available to any application the user signs in to.
4. Chat API : Unlike SMS, which is broadly a ‘fire and forget’ service, the RCS chat services allow much more sophisticated messaging services to be built. Depending on user configuration you can check out whether the user has received the message, and displayed it.
RCS chat also allows feedback to other parties when a user is composing a message. There are also group chat services allowing multiple parties to collaboratively message. RCS provides API features for setting up a group chat session, adding or removing chat participants.
5. File Transfer : These APIs allow applications to send content between users – whether this is a picture or a document, and whether it is stored originally on the user’s device or elsewhere located on the Internet. They allow the recipient to receive information about the file separately from the file itself so the recipient can choose whether or not to accept the file.
6. User capabilities API : Enables the application to retrieve and amend system managed common capabilities of the user.
At this stage I will also put in a bit more about RCSe.
RCS-enhanced (RCS-e) is the currently available version of RCS, developed to speed time to market. It offers enhanced features such as instant messaging, live video sharing, and file transfer across any device on any network operator
RCS-e (1.2.2) : RCS-e defined the initial IM/Chat functionality, File transfer, Image Share and Video share functionality over mobile packet switched networks, trusted and untrusted broadband networks. It has gained wide acceptance in Europe as an initial deployment to be followed by future deployment phases.
RCS 5.0 is completely backward compatible with V1.2.2 specifications and adds new features such as best efforts IP video calls, Geo-location exchange, Social Presence, Standalone Messaging, and a network based blacklist. Global interoperability is a key aspect of these specifications, and as a result this version supports both OMA CPM and OMA SIMPLE IM, which are more widely requested in North America.
RCS 5.1 is also backward compatible with the V1.2.2 and 5.0 specifications. It introduces additional new features such as Group Chat Store & Forward, File Transfer in Group Chat, File Transfer Store & Forward, and Best Effort Voice Call.
RCS solution is required to bear its Net-Net session border controller (SBC) deployed at the access border of the SIP or IMS service network. SBC should provide critical control functions to deliver interactive communications services—voice, video and multimedia sessions—over the IP 3G RAN.
Standards-based network services, such as GSMA OneAPI and Rich Communications Suite (RCS), along with service provider’s OSS/BSS “back-end” capabilities enables numerous features that gives application developers the ability to monetize communications, context, commerce and control. They can deliver their services more intelligently, by providing them with real-time information such as Data Connection type, tariff, roaming status, and device capabilities integrate innovative API such as integral Payments Engine.
RealTime Notifications: RCS gives choice of notifications such as sms, email, and push notification messages via Android, Apple or MS notification service. Device-level ad targeting can be by •Geo-Location •Time of Day •Frequency Capping •Direction of Travel
The suite of rich communication services with context-based capabilities have numerous applications too. For example integrating directly into business applications such as Field Service Management. The advantages of contextual commnication communciations is that it interact more intelligently and effectively with their customers, for example delivering targeted, contextually relevant marketing promotions, offers and coupons. Some application of RCS from user front is that it allows the user to describe issues in detail by allowing multimedia formats in tickets or complaina or even request higher Quality of Service temporarily for the delivery of, for example, High-Definition video content.
One of the possible applications using RCS-based advanced communication features can be smart self-care. This can include platform support and API integration to check real-time consumption, validity alerts, payment history, check available promo/discounted plans & period as well as Pay-online using sms/MMS. Self-care is a popular concept among many service/product providers and is developed for mobile applications on smartphones, and web portals on the internet. This is similarly integrable via SMS or Toll-Free number using IVR/USSD.
File Transfer using MSRP (or Message Session Relay Protocol) is an instant messaging or chat protocol, defined by the IETF in RFC4975. MSRP is a text-based, connection-oriented protocol for exchanging arbitrary (binary) MIME content, especially instant messages.
The rapidly changing scene of telecoms operations brings to light many challenges faced by telcos and service providers as they cater to the end-users, with swift and innovative services, while at the same time keeping surcharge operational costs at bay. Today a customer(B2B) expects converged orchestrated harmonized applications bringing call control and customizing features, all under one roof.
Unified Communications solutions bring together voice, messaging, video, and desktop applications to enable companies to quickly adapt to market changes, increase productivity, improve competitive advantage and deliver a rich-media experience across any work space.
Currently the mode of communication across various users differs such as emails , SMS, VOIP call , GSM call, message on other platform etc .These random forms of communication cannot be tracked thus hamper fast decision making .
There exists broadly two types of UC&C solution – On-premise and cloud based . The fundamental difference is the location of the backend infrastructure supporting the communication system . Some more differences are outlined in table below:
Mostly in SaaS nature ( software as a service )
– Hosted by the consumer / business unit itself – more customizability and flexibility more investment and maintenance
Service provider offers his infrastructure to the consumer as a service bills monthly / yearly etc – quick setup – lower upfront payment – billing is either per user basis or on consumption . – data is synced to cloud servers for storage and can be fetched from there when required such as cloud synced Call-logs or contact-book
The UCC clients are designed keeping mobility in mind . Thus UC Solutions are made compatible with online provisioning / portal system , native mobile apps like android /ios , Desktop app for linux, mac, windows etc .
UC&C models integrates with Enterprise and Customer Relation Management Systems (CRM). Therefore provides unified messaging across teamspace/workspace/workflow management systems . It is trackable and can be used for realtime notification and analytics .
This directly ensures boost in sales and profitability by quick communication between customers / partners / eco-system / sales-rep / developers / field agents and others part of the communication system.
In conclusion UC&C is aimed at providing inter operable communications with ubiquitous coverage for applications and devices such as desktops , IP phones , smartphones, smart watches , kisosk etc. It means web, native apps and IP phones having the ability to create, share and participate in integrated multimedia ( like audio, video , desktop, files ) collaboration.