China Mobile announced it will launch Rich Communication Services (RCS) across the country on 1 December, a move that will pit the world’s largest operator head-to-head with messaging giant Tencent.
Under the new brand 4G+Smart, the operator will offer enhanced messaging using GSMA RCS standards. Features include the ability to exchange high resolution images, chat and share files.
Many enhanced messaging features are already available through OTT applications. One of the most popular in China is Tencent’s WeChat, which China Daily earlier this month estimated to have more than 960 million users.
However, by offering the service without the need to download a specific app, China Mobile will hope to gain significant traction among its base of 885 million mobile subscribers.
The feature will be native on compatible handsets including the Samsung S8 and Huawei Mate 10. Similar functionality will be offered to enterprise customers via an app called And Fei Xin.
China Mobile announced the new system at its Global Partners Conference in Guangzhou, a move hailed by the GSMA as a “huge boost” for the adoption of RCS services.
In a statement, the association said: “Momentum for RCS is growing around the world. There are currently 50 launched networks and over 157 million active monthly users. The potential for continued growth is also huge.”
Operators with the technology already available include AT&T, Orange, Sprint, Vodafone Group and Deutsche Telekom. The GSMA predicts there will be 350 million RCS users around the world by Q4 2018 and a billion by Q1 2019.