Sprint early with universal messaging move

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Sprint and Google say they have made the GSMA’s universal profile for advance messaging available to customers two weeks before its release

Sprint has become the first mobile operator to deploy a new GSMA messaging profile, offering services nearly two weeks before details of the system are published.

The new profile finally opens the way to customers being able to send mobile messages from one platform to another.

The GSMA, which represents the industry’s mobile operators, plans to publish release 1 of its universal profile for advanced messaging on 17 November – but Sprint, working with Google, started offering services last Friday.

Alex Sinclair, CTO of the GSMA, welcomed Sprint’s move. “We are delighted that Sprint has become the first operator to roll out the Universal Profile to their subscribers and hope that this will encourage other markets across the world to follow their lead,” he said.

The universal profile for advanced messaging – which does not yet seem to have an official abbreviation – is designed to simplify and accelerate the adoption of interoperable communications services.

Most smartphones will ship with a built-in advanced messaging app, said the GSMA, so consumers will be easily able to text, chat and share media without having to identify and download which apps their contacts are using.

“A single, open and common universal profile will help to drive the global adoption of RCS services, and make it easier for consumers to enjoy rich, consistent and interoperable messaging experiences regardless of device or network,” said Sinclair.

Next week’s release 1 will include core features – capability discovery, which will be interoperable between regions – as well as chat, group chat, file transfer, audio messaging, video sharing, multi-device, enriched calling, location share and live sketching.

Release 2, detailing improved expressiveness, APIs, plug-in integration and improved authentication and app security, as well as the first steps towards establishing advanced messaging as a conversational commerce platform, is due in the second quarter of 2017.

Sprint and Google said the service was available from 4 November to subscribers using Android via the Messenger app for Android devices developed by Google. In 2017, all new Android devices from Sprint will come pre-loaded with Messenger for Android.

The universal profile reduces the technical implementation options for each of the core advanced messaging services, simplifies operator deployment, and will provide the scale required to develop messaging-as-a-platform. It will also allow Google and others to develop global clients that will enable a consistent interoperable messaging experience across all devices and networks.

The work is supported by many operators – including AIS, América Móvil, Axiata, Beeline, Bell Mobility, Bharti Airtel, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Claro Brazil, Claro Colombia, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Globe Telecom, Indosat Ooredoo, KPN, M1, Megafon, Millicom, MTN, MTS, Optus, Orange, Personal Argentina, Personal Paraguay, Play, Reliance Jio, Rogers, Singtel, Smart Communications, Sprint, StarHub, Telcel Mexico, Tele2, Telefónica, Telenor, Telia, Telkomsel, Telstra, Telus, TIM, T-Mobile US, Turkcell, Verizon, VimpelCom, and Vodafone.

Google and Microsoft are both supporting the initiative, including a number of handset makers.