China Mobile, the world’s largest cellular provider by subscribers, is teaming up with local vendor ZTE to develop Rich Communication Services (RCS) facilities to challenge Tencent’s popular WeChat service, the South China Morning Post reports. Several companies, including rival China Telecom and e-commerce giant Alibaba have introduced messaging apps (Yixin and Laiwang, respectively) but have fared poorly against Tencent’s over-the-top (OTT) offering. Trials of China Mobile/ZTE’s new RCS programme have already started in-house, with 550,000 China Mobile employees using the service. A commercial launch is expected later this year.
Fang Hui, vice president of ZTE, explained that its partnership with the cellco will produce a ‘trump card’ for China Mobile to compete with OTT services: ‘Service quality of RCS is much [more] reliable than that of OTT. Things like losing your message will never happen because it is on the network owned by operator.’ The official also pointed out that RCS could potentially provide better security for users, noting: ‘Every RCS account is based on a mobile telephone number so you know there is a real person behind it.’