• Google, Carriers Seek to Supplant SMS, MMS with RCS



    Last fall Google acquired Jibe Mobile, a startup working on a new messaging standard for carriers called Rich Communications Services, or RCS. The fruits of that acquisition was seen this week at Mobile World Congress, in an announcement that Google was working with the GSM Association and a host of carriers worldwide to accelerate the adoption of this new standard.

    Unfortunately the news comes amidst a continuing stand-off between Apple and the FBI. With user privacy on everyone's minds, it's been revealed that RCS has some big issues when it comes to security.

    According to Wikipedia, RCS has the following key features:

    1. Calls: enables multimedia content sharing during a voice call, video calling and screen sharing.
    2. Messaging: enables a large variety of messaging options including chat, emoticons, location and file sharing.
    3. Phone book: service capabilities and enhanced contacts information such as presence and service discovery.


    The carriers who have already signed on to bring RCS to their customers include América Móvil, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, KPN, Millicom, MTN, Orange, PLAY, Smart Communications, Sprint, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telstra, TIM, Turkcell, VimpelCom and Vodafone.

    Why would Google care about a new carrier-level messaging standard? Likely because it wants to win users back from the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp. The idea is that eventually some sort of RCS client will be available on any device without having to deal with a separate app or login—just like the SMS/MMS client you have on your phone right now.

    But therein lies the problem... If a messaging platform is interoperable between carriers then it's only as secure as its weakest partner. Even worse, RCS seems to have been developed with surveillance in mind. The GSMA's technical specifications for the standard suggests that it should be built to “allow compliance with legal interception procedures.”

    The NSA should be thrilled.

    Sources: TechCrunch, GSMA, Wikipedia, Re/code

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    This article was originally published in forum thread: Google, Carriers Seek to Supplant SMS, MMS with RCS started by acurrie View original post
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Ten Four's Avatar
      Ten Four -
      What's wrong with SMS and MMS? Personally, I would rather keep it simple and if I need or want video chat and screen sharing I'll use something like Skype or Whatsapp. Seems like they are trying to reinvent the wheel here.
    1. Morphling27's Avatar
      Morphling27 -
      I agree with you Ten Four - I don't get this rush to this. The more inter-operable you make things this advance, the more security issues you have. Simple SMS is fine to me. Voice calling is fine to me. I really can't tell you many who use all these things - it's pretty obvious SMS is great as it's stuck around a long time and a main form of communication for a lot of users.
    1. JohnJoe's Avatar
      JohnJoe -
      Maybe they want to fix the SMS/MMS tx/rx issues, where they get lost and don't always get received.
    1. Ten Four's Avatar
      Ten Four -
      Maybe they want to fix the SMS/MMS tx/rx issues, where they get lost and don't always get received.
      Maybe that happens to some people some of the time, but the only messages I have ever lost that I know of were sent to a Google Voice number. Otherwise, as far as I know SMS/MMS has been very reliable for me using various MVNOs running on the AT&T network.
    1. JohnJoe's Avatar
      JohnJoe -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ten Four View Post
      Maybe that happens to some people some of the time, but the only messages I have ever lost that I know of were sent to a Google Voice number. Otherwise, as far as I know SMS/MMS has been very reliable for me using various MVNOs running on the AT&T network.
      On TMO to TMO I have seen some SMS not received, while I have seen them show as delivered.

      I have also seen international texts get lost a lot more often, and there is the issue where you are away from cell service for a week, the texts timeout, date/timestamps aren't that of the sender either, etc

      Lots of areas to improve.