Deutsche Telekom has commercially launched its joyn messaging service, a few weeks later than originally scheduled following earlier technical issues.

joyn is a GSMA-backed effort by the operator community to compete more effectively with over-the-top players. It enables services such as enhanced messaging and voice, video calling and content sharing directly from the phone’s contact book, regardless of the network or device used.

The tier one German operator has made the service available at launch via a free app in Google’s Play store (joyn by Telekom), while an iOS version is expected to become available within the next two weeks. The operator has said that vendors such as Samsung, HTC, Sony, Nokia, LG “and many others” will embed the service on their new smartphones “in the near future.”

Germany’s largest carrier said that chat and file-transfer features are available at no extra charge for customers on flat-rate data or messaging plans.

Deutsche Telekom’s move follows an earlier launch by domestic rival Vodafone. With Telefonica also expected to support joyn later this year, the service will be available to over 80 percent of all mobile customers in Germany.

Progress in Germany for the Rich Communication Suite-enhanced (RCS-e) standard follows launches in Spain (Telefonica, Orange and Vodafone), South Korea (SK Telecom) and the US (MetroPCS). Meanwhile Middle East and North African operator Zain yesterday announced it will pilot the service in Kuwait (via a deal with Vodafone), “with other operations to follow.”