Sprint launched its own over-the-top (OTT) messaging app for iPhone and Android, joining a growing set of operators following this path.
Messaging Plus supports texting, instant messaging, video chat and group messaging between users in the US, Canada and Mexico. Using mobile broadband and Wi-Fi, it also enables users to share photos and video.
In a statement, the US number three player said that it is “Sprint is the first national wireless carrier to enable cloud-based enhanced messaging features that can be downloaded on select smartphones for consumer use with multiple carriers”.
Rival T-Mobile has previously put its toe in the OTT water with a service called Bobsled.
The free app can be downloaded from Sprint Zone and Sprint.com, Google Play and Apple’s App Store and subscribers to other networks can make use of the technology.
Messaging Plus is available for newer models of the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, Victory and Note 2, and HTC One and EVO 4G LTE. In the future, it will be pre-loaded on all Android devices provided by Sprint.
The service uses technology from cloud communications provider Jibe Mobile.
OTT messaging apps such as WhatsApp, LINE and WeChat have surged in popularity in recent years, putting pressure on operator SMS and voice revenue. Research published in April said that by the end of 2012, more instant messages were sent via chat apps per day than SMS text messages.
Among the operators to have responded, China Mobile and China Telecom both have OTT messaging apps, while China Unicom recently struck a deal with Tencent to supply a SIM-card for WeChat.
Telefonica, meanwhile, recently closed its TU Me messaging app to focus on its more integrated comms app, TU Go, which was launched in March.