China’s three major operators have released a white paper mandating all compatible handsets to support Rich Communications Services (RCS)

Today, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom have jointly released a new 5G white paper suggesting a unilateral commitment to RCS.

5G is set to facilitate a shift away from basic SMS messaging, ushering in an era of RCS, where mobile messaging can become much more interactive and flexible, more akin to what we now know as iMessaging through platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. RCS will not only facilitate the sharing of GIFs and high-quality videos, but will also more directly interface with the internet; for example, offering a list of available flights when the user sends a message regarding a holiday.

For now, RCS is still in its infancy, without widespread adoption. However, this white paper is backed not only by the operators, but by a host of mobile vendors, including Huawei, Ziaomi, Vivo, Oppo, ZTE, and Samsung, meaning RCS phones are on the way. 

Huawei noted that it had an RCS-capable phone to be launched in June, while Xiaomi has confirmed that all of its new 5G phones will also run the new messaging service.  

“Together with ecosystem partners, we will start a new chapter in 5G messaging and further promote RCS applications in China,” said a statement from the three operators releasing the paper.

RCS is set to be big business, with the GSMA estimating market revenue related to the new technology to reach $74 billion this year. Though this may be somewhat hampered by the coronavirus outbreak, China will likely generate a large portion of this revenue, with the growth of its 5G networks easily outpacing their Western rivals.

RCS has been touted as the ‘next big thing’ for many years now – perhaps a widespread and rapid adoption by Chinese operators and associated vendors will finally make this dream a reality.

It should be noted that China is not alone in this endeavour. To the east, in Japan, new mobile player Rakuten Mobile has noted that it offers RCS as part of its 4G launch today.


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