The GSM Association introduced and promoted the Rich Communication Services or RCS in 2008. It is specifically a communication protocol between mobile network carriers and between a mobile phone and a network carrier. Samsung was one of the first smartphone manufacturers to support this protocol beginning in 2012 and Google, through its Android operating system, has since adopted it as an expanded messaging service feature and an alternative to the instant messaging service iMessage of Apple beginning in 2016.
Pros: Advantages of Rich Communication Services
It is important to note that RCS was developed and promoted to replace short messaging services or SMS with a text-based message system that is richer and more functional. The specific expanded features of this communication protocol provide it with advantages or benefits similar to instant messaging services.
Examples of these features include phonebook polling for service discovery, transmission of multimedia in-call, high-resolution photos and videos, expanded support for emojis, read receipts and type indicators, group chats, and support for end-to-end encryption. The following are the specific advantages of rich communication services:
• High-Quality Texting and Chatting: It provides a richer text-based messaging experience than SMS because it supports high-resolution photos and videos, high-quality audio transfers, and file uploads and downloads. This protocol also has native support for emojis and interactive content such as buttons and carousels.
• Improved Group Messaging: The protocol support group conversations or group chats. This makes it a native alternative to instant messaging services like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Telegram. It also allows better management of group chats. These include giving group names or adding and removing participants.
• Support for Security and Privacy: Another advantage of Rich Communication Services is that it supports end-to-end encryption for all chats. This means that messages and all media or files sent can only be read or accessed via the intended recipient. This makes communication or transmission secure from interception.
• Other Notable Functionalities: It also supports read receipts, so that the user can see when the message has been read by the recipient, and typing indicators or status, so that the user can see when the recipient is typing a reply. A user can also share his or her real-time location. The protocol can also be used for two-factor authentication.
Rich Communication Services leverage the capabilities of advances in wireless communication and smartphones to provide a more engaging and dynamic messaging experience to users. Businesses can also use this protocol to interact with customers, provide customer support, share rich promotional content, and provide text-based security support.
Cons: Disadvantages of Rich Communication Services
Take note that RCS works over mobile data networks. It is also important to underscore the fact that both sender and receiver need to have devices and be in network carriers that support this communication protocol to avail or take advantage of its benefits. There are also other drawbacks and limitations. The following are the specific disadvantages:
• Limited Availability: One of the biggest disadvantages of Rich Communication Services is that it is not available in all mobile network carriers and devices. This means that a user cannot use this communication protocol and all of its features and advantages to chat with everyone in his or her contact list or phonebook.
• Compatibility Issues: The limited availability means that a rich text message sent on an RCS-supported device would be rendered into plain text with notable losses of information when received on a non-supported device. There are also some compatibility issues between different RCS implementations.
• Data Consumption: It is also important to note that this protocol consumes mobile data, unlike SMS. A user needs to be connected to a network that supports mobile data transmission or internet connection. This can mean an additional cost to users depending on their mobile plans or the service offering of the network carrier.
Remember that RCS has been a native feature integrated into the messaging app of Samsung and the messaging app of Google. A lot of Android smartphone manufacturers and their devices do not support RCS. This communication protocol is also not compatible with iOS and iPadOS operating systems or iPhone and iPad devices.
The adoption of the protocol has been somewhat fragmented and slow. This is at the core of the disadvantage of Rich Communication Services. Different carriers in different regions implement it at different phases. This platform also competes with instant messaging services or messaging apps that have better market penetration and cross-platform compatibility.