Zain Group, with mobile operations across eight markets in the Middle East and North Africa, is launching pilot Rich Communications Services (RCS) in its home market of Kuwait under the Joyn initiative backed by the GSM Association (GSMA) and network operators globally. The Kuwait Times reports that Zain has entered the global inter-operator RCS movement via its Partner Market agreement with the UK’s Vodafone Group, making it the first operator to trial Joyn in the Middle East. Joyn services enable customers to chat and enrich messaging or voice calls by exchanging images or video simultaneously during calls, in a private and secure manner, with any member of their contact list that has Joyn, regardless of the user’s network or mobile device. These services may be used on both the operators’ mobile networks and on Wi-Fi networks. Additional services such as voice-over-IP (VoIP) and IP video calling will be introduced in the near future.
Joyn was created as a rival to third-party over-the-top (OTT) service providers such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber. Joyn was launched first in Spain, ahead of expansion to other countries including Germany and South Korea in the fourth quarter of 2012, and is being embedded in handsets under agreements with major manufacturers.