MetroPCS, recently acquired by T-Mobile USA and not slowing down one bit in the wake of that transaction, launched Rich Communications Services (RCS) on its LTE network this week. MetroPCS has embraced the GSMA-licensed joyn brand and RCS 5.0 standards for its service rollout and is the first company to roll out joyn and RCS on an LTE network.
joyn by MetroPCS is included in all of the company’s LTE rate plans and RCS-enabled smartphones. The services will offer one-click access for users to connect to friends and family in real time, showing how contacts can be reached and what muiltimedia capabilities are available for each contact in chat, content transfer or video share.
The GSMA hopes that joyn and RCS can provide a standardized service provider suite of multimedia communications tools to compete with all the different over-the-top (OTT) services available worldwide. Carriers using joyn should be able to deliver the services to their customers seamlessly and relatively painlessly and ultimately enable their customers to use those services seamlessly with customers of other service providers, all the while providing carrier-grade quality.
At launch, MetroPCS will support joyn contract presence with availability (online, busy, away, unavailable); calendar sync and social network interaction; "enriched chat" including threaded conversations; the ability to share content, group chat, and delivery of read notifications (something you don't get with SMS and some existing OTT services); content sharing of video, images and files while on a call and within instant messaging or chat; geo-location; and WiFi support with both voice and video calls.
MetroPCS is offering joyn today on the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G, with current phone owners able to download the joyn app from both the company's @metro App Stor and Google Play. The carrier plans to roll out additional "RCS-enable" LTE smartphones and services later this year and throughout 2013, with "native support" for joyn services coming at a later date.
GSMA has started to promote joyn more actively, but adoption has been slow. Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone Spain all offer joyn at this time and Vodafone Germany also runs the service. There are a limited number of joyn-certified devices on the market at this time, with models from HTC, LG, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony and RCS clients available for Android and the Apple iPhone.
Part of the slow adoption issue has been a revolving door of standards for RCS, with RCS 5.0 now appearing to be the latest, greatest, and globally accepted standard.
If you're curious about the potential of joyn and RCS 5.0, you may want to take a look at Metaswitch's non-RCS/non-joyn Thrutu application to get a taste of what is possible when you blend voice calling with smartphone interactivity. Vonage's Mobile App also provides a subset of joyn-like features between callers, enabling callers to directly exchange photos, contact info and location directly from the app.
Edited by Rich Steeves