Technology Apr 10

Telecom giants vow to collaborate on Chinese 5G messaging

Agreement boost hopes for decade-old technology to finally realise its potential

by Nadeem Xu
Chinese telecom giants vow to collaborate on 5G messaging
5G messaging seen in China as revolutionary killer app

(ATF) - China's three biggest mobile operators have struck a deal to jointly develop text messaging into a platform that brings all mobile functions – from e-commerce and payments to video and chatbots – into one app.

China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, plan to upgrade their text messaging services with the help of 5G technology. They issued a joint “White Paper on 5G News” this week, vowing to overhaul phone-line based short message services (SMS). 

The technology was first devised in 2008 but failed to achieve its potential because it required consensus across the industry. Cooperation between China’s three largest telecom firms has raised hopes that the technology’s time has come.

The upgraded service, which has been endorsed by smartphone makers Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi, OPPO and Samsung, also is backed by encrypted transmission technology and stronger anti-counterfeiting capabilities. 

READ MORE: US threat to block China Telecom from American market

READ MORE: UnionPay International launches Huawei Pay service in Singapore

The platform would be based on the Rich Communications Suite (RCS) concept, also known as unified communication services, proposed by GSMA (Global Association for Mobile Communication Systems) in 2008.

Under the system, users of China’s 12306 railway booking network, for instance, might also be able to access airline booking, check-in and seat selection, E-commerce purchases, payments, marketing and other operations by sending voice or text and clicking key words.  

Huge potential

5G messaging inherits the characteristics of traditional SMS such as registration-free login and installation-free application. Various functional interfaces are grafted onto the SMS interface, which can also save more mobile phone storage space.

The US, Japan and South Korea, as well as mainstream manufacturers such as Samsung, Microsoft, Google and Softbank have already begun to explore and support RCS.

According to media reports, 135 operators worldwide are expected to adopt 5G messaging by 2021, servicing 800 million monthly users.

GSMA is optimistic about the prospects for RCS; it estimates that by 2021, the global market for the protocol will reach $74 billion. According to GSMA's plan, 5G terminals will support 5G messaging services in the future, and relevant standards have been completed.

Anson Securities forecasts that RCS, as the carrier of enterprise services, will extend into chat and customer service, online shopping, short-video marketing, among other lucrative services. Guosheng Securities expects it to be rolled immediately with the high-speed networks. 

Huaxi Securities, while bullish on the development of the RCS industry, cautioned that the coronavirus epidemic had slowed the rollout of 5G. It said also that RCS still faces technological challenges and that its widespread adoption may not happen as quickly as anticipated.

·       Huawei Investment Holding (102000446.IB)

(The story was written by Xu Jiangshan and translated by Nadeem Xu. It was first published at Atimescn.com)