RCS – Universal Profile
The Universal Profile, due to be published in November 2016, is a globally agreed, single GSMA specification from which Operator advanced communications services are being built. It contains a set of Advanced Calling and Messaging features and agreed enablers for innovation – such as application to person messaging (chatbots) and conversational commerce (the seamless integration of transactions and messaging), evolving SMS for 6.7 billion consumers. As a result of the Universal Profile, most smartphones will ship with a built-in Advanced Messaging app, so consumers will easily be able to text, chat and share media without having to identify and download which apps their contacts are using. Read more.
It provides clarity and certainty on the technology roadmap for Operators who were planning on deploying Advanced Communications, but delayed due to uncertainty on which technical option to choose. For OEMs it simplifies the build requirements and enables them to work with one model for worldwide deployment and to build Advanced Communications into open market devices. For all Operators and IPXs it simplifies interconnect by reducing technical options. The Universal Profile is also a pre-requisite to getting mobile OS providers such as Google and Apple to make Advanced Communications native in their operating system software. For the GSMA, it ensures the telecoms industry remains at the centre of digital communications by enabling Operators to deliver this exciting new messaging services consistently, quickly, and simply.
The Universal Profile is supported by 56 operators and OEMs as well as 2 OS providers: Google and Microsoft, and the list is growing. For the full list and to add you support find out more here.
GSMA expect the Universal Profile to trigger an acceleration in Advanced Communications network deployments. We also expect to see greatly improved device availability and penetration in open market devices (which constitutes 60% of all devices worldwide). This upturn in handset penetration will in-turn drive active user numbers, especially as this service will be in-built to devices.
Operators can choose whether to deploy RCS or not but if they deploy RCS, the Universal Profile will guarantee device availability and interconnection with other operators.
Operators who have already launched are now planning their migration to the Universal Profile. Interoperability with pre-Universal Profiles will be provided during the transition. We expect the first devices and networks in Q2 2017.
OEMs should participate in the specification development in GSG (Global Specification Group) and begin to develop Universal Profile devices. During the transition period, Operators who have already launched will work with OEM’s on their specific requirements for migration to the Universal Profile.
Operators launching after Q1 2017 should confirm with equipment vendors and OEMs that they are deploying the Universal Profile. Those launching between now and then should deploy a mature profile with minimal transition needed to Universal Profile such as Crane Priority Release and manage the transition over time. Those who have already deployed should plan their transition to the Universal Profile and work through the details with their OEM and equipment vendors.
Google’s carrier messaging company Jibe has developed a universal Android client based on the GSMA Universal Profile for RCS. They are also offering a carrier hosted service for Operators to launch and manage RCS services to their customers without deploying an RCS or IMS infrastructure.
No. SMS and MMS are good examples of successful service enablers that have thrived on the basis of interoperability while encouraging a proliferation of differentiated value-added services. RCS provides core functionality, enabling app development and differentiation, based on underlying interoperability and compatibility, such as instant messaging. Interoperability ensures that core RCS service features will operate seamlessly between users, whichever operator they belong to and whatever mobile phone they have.
The compelling strapline for RCS is: ‘It’s just there and it just works’. RCS gives end users the immediate opportunity to communicate with others in a variety of ways, without requiring installation, registration, etc. Furthermore, rich communications services will boast levels of security and QoS that only operators can provide and there will be no ‘closed community’ limitations. In other words, RCS will be available to all mobile operator subscribers, independent of handset and users will be made aware of an address book contact’s service capability. RCS provides end users with a frictionless and trustworthy experience that can be enjoyed across networks and borders. Only operators are capable of delivering such a service and it is what today’s end users have come to expect.
RCS services are based on the IP-Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), as specified by the 3GPP and adopted by major industry standardisation bodies for mobile and fixed networks. Operators may implement their own IMS solution or can access the services of a hosted solution to provide a pre-IMS or partial-IMS implementation. The hosted solution may be a temporary or permanent solution for the operator.
Example demonstrations from a number of vendors have shown that it is technically possible to achieve integrations between RCS and OSP apps. Such interconnect will be dependent on commercial agreements between operators and OSPs and will be based on similar terms and conditions as interconnect between RCS operators.
The initial service scope includes one-to-one and one-to-many IM, file share (as a standalone or within a chat session), video sharing within a voice call and service capability discovery. The RCS team recently identified new enhancements and these are currently being reviewed and prioritised for inclusion in a new RCS specification. These enhancements are designed to improve the RCS messaging experience and the availability of RCS services across multiple devices with the same identity. Also proposed is the harmonisation of RCS services with VoLTE). Further innovation in rich communications is also expected through enabling third-party developers to work with RCS APIs to launch new communications services addressing specific segments or markets.
An RCS client could be developed to work on IMS-registered IP phones and interworking would be possible if the networks are interconnected.
On the contrary, the current feature set, e.g. one-to-one and group chat, image and file sharing of RCS, is competitive with most OSP services. Furthermore, RCS also offers the unique benefits of offering video, image and file share in-call, so that users do not have to switch apps to access these services. RCS also offers service capability discovery, which means that the user can be confident that if they see a service is offered they can be sure it will work. Operators can position their RCS services as easier to discover, install, set up and use and can offer a secure, reliable and private user experience.
The key differentiator for RCS is that when natively integrated in the mobile phone or via a downloadable app, no intervention is needed by the user – ‘it’s just there’. Furthermore, only relevant and available services are offered to the user thanks to dynamic capability discovery – ‘it just works’.
The opportunity for the operator is to retain its relevance as the primary provider of personal communications services to its customers and reinvigorate its core communications products, by innovating and differentiating versus online service providers with ease of use, ubiquity, interoperability and privacy. New revenue generating services can be developed on the RCS platform and will be discoverable in the right place, in the right context.
There are many ways in which RCS based services can be monetised: charging customers per event for certain services, bundling services into daily, weekly or monthly subscription packages or charging explicitly for data volumes consumed. In some cases, third-party service providers could be charged for the use of rich communications capabilities, e.g. video share or file share in the delivery of their specific services, such as in gaming apps or to enrich customer care services.
RCS offers significant opportunities to enrich the consumer’s communications experience now, encouraging them to communicate more and helping to strengthen the mobile operator’s relationship with them. Maintaining the mobile operators’ relevance as the primary provider of communication services will become even more important as competition shifts from the messaging market to the far more valuable voice market. Operators need to act now in order to prepare themselves to effectively compete with third-party service providers who will be able to offer even more competitive mobile VoIP services once high bandwidth, low latency, LTE networks are introduced.
These are dependent on a number of factors, in particular the current size and status of the operator’s network. For full deployment, there are a variety of architectural options that can be employed to achieve RCS deployment without major upfront investments or complex network integrations. The first commercial RCS networks have been deployed within less than nine months, with RCS Solution taking as little as three months. We can now confirm, given the ecosystem experience and knowledge acquired during these initial deployments, that future implementations have been much faster:
- LATAM region implemented six country launches within five months with a hosted solution.
- Sprint the second USA operator to launch RCS services was live with a hosted solution within 12 weeks.
The market demand is best demonstrated by the popularity of several OSP services. With the advent of all-IP networks and greater penetration of smartphones, demand for richer communications will grow, yet only operators are able to deliver quality, secure services whose scope is not limited to a specific OEM or OS universe. Complementing this will be service capability, which will guarantee that end users will not have a “trial and error” experience when attempting to communicate with address book contacts.
The RCS team has approached rich communications from a standards perspective and the focus of the effort has been to create a specification that details an “enabling foundation” upon which third parties can build innovative and feature-rich communications products and services. The GSMA’s approach to rich communications has been to provide and promote (including the use of a Service Mark – joyn) a common set of tools to developers, OEMs, etc. The rich communications UI experience can be made different across networks and mobile phones, but retains key elements of interoperable capabilities, which will be universally enjoyed by subscribers. Furthermore, the GSMA is working with OMA and key vendors to define the technical specification.
Consumers who wish to stay in touch with friends and family, and capture and exchange rich media with them as events happen. The youth demographic is particularly attracted to the RCS proposition; and Business users who need to exchange multimedia documents and work collaboratively with colleagues.
Both operator and the GSMA’s members of the Future Networks project team welcome the opportunity to assist other operators in their efforts to decide to commit to RCS. Through documentation, content, face-to-face sessions, workshops, C-level briefings, live demos and other methods, the Future Networks team is equipped to inform and convince. Operators considering RCS should not hesitate to contact the Future Networks project team and we look forward to working with you.
No. SMS and MMS are good examples of successful service enablers that have thrived on the basis of interoperability while encouraging aHD voice delivers higher quality voice transmissions and therefore a better overall user experience. From the customer perspective, it provides a real comfort of communication and a sensation of presence. Customer surveys have shown that the improved voice quality is greatly appreciated (satisfaction ratio up to 96 per cent). It results in an increase of the voice usage (by more than 3 per cent observed in several countries). HD customers have a better opinion of their mobile network operator, which therefore appears as more innovative. For more than 70 per cent of surveyed customers, HD voice is a loyalty factor and more than 85 per cent would recommend it. Further details can also be found in IR.36 – Adaptive Multirate Wide Band.
The logo is intended for use by either mobile network operators or device manufacturers without additional dependence on being associated with particular devices or networks. As shown in the illustrative examples below, this permits: I. A device manufacturer can market a device using the HD voice logo, provided that when it is used on a call with a further HD voice-compatible device on a network that supports the HD voice criteria, a full HD voice experience is provided to the user. This enables a device vendor to market a device using the HD voice logo in distribution channels other than those associated with a specific mobile network. II. A manufacturer can also use the logo to market any combination of devices and headsets, if these meet all the requirements specified for mobile terminals and headsets. III. A mobile network operator can market their network service using the HD voice logo, provided that when two HD voice-compatible devices are used on their network (or where one device is on an interconnected network) a full HD voice experience is provided to the user. This enables a mobile network operator to market their network using the HD voice logo without having to market or supply a specific HD voice-compatible device.
The GSMA believes that, from the user perspective, HD voice is one service, regardless of the access technology. It is important for the customer to see one single logo over mobile and fixed services. At this stage, DECT device manufacturers may use the HD voice logo, providing they adhere to the relevant minimum requirements criteria in Annex E.
Terminals supporting wide band speech codecs only, even when codec is activated, will not be HD voice logo compliant (this is not relevant to marketing, only licensees). There are two main reasons for this: I. A terminal which is just wide band speech codec activated (without acoustics/noise reduction improvements) may not lead to any improvement of the call’s audio quality for some time, as the number of end-to-end wideband speech codec calls is very limited initially. Users would be disappointed by the experience, i.e. it may ruin the whole HD voice story. II. The message to the end users must be kept simple: devices are HD voice compliant or not; introducing an intermediate level may confuse the message, i.e. one single logo, for an HD voice-compliant device or services only.
To display the HD voice logo, the device only needs to meet the requirements in one of the technologies. However, for the best user experience, it’s preferable that the device meets the HD voice requirements on all of the technologies.
HD voice is enabled in particular through the use of wideband speech codecs extending the frequency to wideband audio range (50 Hz to 7000 Hz) and enhanced background noise reduction. Through this, HD voice delivers higher quality voice transmissions and therefore a better overall user experience. In particular, voices are more recognisable, sounds of fricatives, such as s, z, and f, are more easily distinguished, background noises (pub, train, car, office, etc.) are minimised and the speech has a more natural sound.
The logo is free of charge – i.e. no license fees are payable to the GSMA. The only cost you might incur is if you ask the GSMA to file further registrations in specific countries/markets.
The logo is registered as a Community Trade Mark (CTM) and with the Madrid Protocol. This has formed the basis for additional international registrations, including Canada, India, P.R. China, Russia and USA. Where licensees wish for additional registrations to be filed, the GSMA will be willing to undertake the work, providing the licensee pays the costs, typically between £500-£3000, depending on the market.
HD voice is globally rolled out by mobile and fixed network operators and terminal manufacturers. The GSA: http://gsacom.com/ and HD voice news: http://hdvoicenews.com provide the latest updates. As HD voice is based on standards that are supported by all the industry, the deployment over a network is well controlled. As proof of this, there are at least 100 HD mobile networks across the world presently.
No. HD voice can also be supported by GSM, UMTS, LTE and CDMA2k or fixed networks. Today, the GSMA offers the logo use for GSM, UMTS, LTE and CDMA2k, networks and mobile and fixed phones. In addition, the GSMA has collaborated with the DECT Forum to provide terminal requirements for DECT handsets. See: www.gsma.com/hd-voice.