KDDI, DoCoMo and SoftBank finally use RCS to upgrade SMS

Image credit: robert paul van beets /

The GSMA announced that Japanese mobile operators KDDI, NTT DoCoMo and SoftBank have launched a new service based on the GSMA’s RCS specifications.

The service – called ‘+ message’ – is an upgrade to SMS and is available on smartphones and tablets, enabling customers to use enhanced messaging features such as chat, group chat, video, GIFs, file and location sharing, amongst others.

All three operators plan to transition to the GSMA’s Universal Profile specification in the future, said GSMA chief technology officer Alex Sinclair.

KDDI, NTT DoCoMo and SoftBank are planning to launch RCS Business Messaging in the future, enabling consumers to engage directly with multiple brands from a single messaging platform, allowing them to make restaurant reservations, book train tickets or retail purchases without having to juggle numerous apps.

The GSMA says several global brands are already trialling RCS Business Messaging. GSMA Intelligence estimates that the RCS Business Messaging market will be worth over $74 billion by 2021.

Adoption of RCS has been slow in past years, but the GSMA says the pace of adoption is accelerating quickly around the world, with over 50 network launches as well as network interconnections.

Earlier this year, the GSMA announced that Deutsche Telekom, Telenor Group, Telia and Vodafone Group had interconnected their networks in Europe, while América Móvil, Rogers Communications and Sprint have interconnected across the Americas. GSMA Intelligence estimates that there are currently 165 million active monthly RCS users, which is expected to double to 350 million by Q4 2018.

“RCS is poised for explosive growth this year with more and more operators launching the service, with many interconnecting their networks and numerous brands trialling RCS Business Messaging and we look forward to seeing this continuing over the coming months,” Sinclair said.

The GSMA says it is working to further spur the growth of RCS through initiatives such as the GSMA RCS Business Messaging Labs, which bring operators, marketing companies, messaging aggregators and brands together to work together on key topics such as customer experience, specifications, monetisation, privacy, security and trust and interconnection.

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