Free over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps with text, VoIP and even video features have made the traditional operator revenue model of paid messaging subscriptions, and even monthly voice minutes, obsolete. With continued smartphone growth and so many free alternatives available, subscriber expectations have changed and users are becoming less likely to pay for basic messaging services, eroding a multi-billion dollar revenue stream for mobile operators. These driving factors have forced operators to rethink their approach and created a push for Rich Communications Services (RCS) as a standard that will help mobile operators compete with OTT services. So far, the standard has seen limited uptake, and the value to operators is still in question.
Intrigued by the growing popularity of over-the-top (OTT) messaging services such as WhatsApp, Kik, and Line, I recently participated in an industry workshop to better understand how wireless operators are responding to these new offerings. At the center of the discussion was a focus on Rich Communication Services (RCS), a specification for the next generation of messaging offerings by operators. As the room full of experts discussed the finer points of RCS, a few key takeaways really stood out: