What is RCS, and Why is it a Big Deal?


SMS text messaging has been around for 26 years, and its value has increased steadily since 1992. There are many reasons SMS has remained so useful; SMS is a stable channel, people are familiar with it, and it offers complete global coverage. That means if you use enterprise SMS to communicate, you could reach everyone in the world with a cell phone. This makes it the most powerful messaging medium that exists.

“If you use enterprise SMS as a communication channel, you could reach everyone in the world who owns a cell phone.”

But even SMS has its limits, and that’s why are we so excited about the changes that RCS brings. When you send an SMS text message you don’t know when it’s been read, you have a character limit to each message, and you can really only send text and links. To avoid these limitations, businesses could use messaging apps, but these present their own set of problems. Each app is different (different looks, functions, etc.), so customers have to adjust their behavior to which app they’re using. Relying on customers to adapt their behavior doesn’t let you provide a user-friendly experience.

So what makes RCS so promising? Let’s dig into that, starting with a description of what it is.

What’s so great about RCS?

RCS stands for Rich Communication Services, and is a communication protocol providing messages with richer media capabilities than SMS offers.

In 2018, we wrote:

”With the support of Google, this type of message will be a reality in 2018. Sweden has already adapted the market protocol for this, so we look forward to this change and the enriched messaging possibilities it holds for companies and customers alike…

But there are still some question marks. At this point, we still don’t know what RCS will mean for SMS costs, both for companies and for consumers; we don’t know operators will handle the delivery of big messages; we don’t know when this will be available for company-to-person communication, as it will start with person-to-person… One thing is sure, when both Android and Apple support RCS, almost every phone, in every network in the world will be free of any limitations SMS has today.”

Much of what we said then is still true! A year later, RCS is used more widely, with pilot usage in the United States and in Japan. In some countries, like the UK, 50% of users have an Android phone, select operators have recognized the value of RCS solutions. These operators have begun working with companies to deliver RCS to their customers. One UK company, Virgin Trains, became the first to use RCS commercially for customer campaigns in fall of 2018. Here’s what’s happening with RCS in those countries, and what we have the opportunity to gain from it in Europe:

  • Branded messaging
  • Photo, audio, and video capabilities
  • Location awareness to provide more relevant customer service
  • Embedded interactive buttons for easy response
  • Read receipts
  • Easy two-way communication with customers

The value these capabilities have for person-to-person communication increases when we consider application-to-person or business-to-consumer communication. When businesses adopt these capabilities, they are able to interact with customers in entirely new ways, without launching an app. Businesses can use RCS to make communication with consumers more engaging, and more efficient. Imagine booking appointments, initiating or cancelling contracts, receiving and handling customer requests, etc., all via a privacy protected, secure, and controlled channel. We are looking at a near future with a universally accessible safe and encrypted channel for near all-encompassing text messaging!


So why are we bringing this up again now? Well we’re happy to say that RCS is now here for our customers (read more about it here)! We will offer this to our customers with messages in select countries, starting with the United Sates. So if you already work with us and want to expand your use to RCS now that it’s is really real, and likely about to skyrocket, get in touch below.

If you’re not sure whether you’re ready, we’re happy to help you understand what preparation you might want to do. Our recommendation is that all enterprises start preparing for the ‘take over’ of RCS, and get ready to begin using it in the places you can sooner rather than later. This is a game you don’t want to be late to!

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