Telkomsel teams with Google to launch RCS in Indonesia

Indonesian operator Telkomsel announced it has formed a strategic partnership with Google to provide rich communication services (RCS), including a rich business messaging (RBM) feature aimed at enterprises.

Telkomsel signed of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday with Google for the development of RCS in Indonesia. Telkomsel’s parent company Singtel also signed the MoU, under which it will develop and offer RCS in Singapore.

RCS is the messaging protocol spearheaded by the GSMA, whose RCS Universal Profile is designed to enhance SMS and MMS with features such as more interactivity, better support for multimedia content, group chats, notifications for received and read messages, and typing indicators.

The RBM feature is designed to enable businesses to use RCS messaging as another application-to-person (A2P) channel to reach consumers, similar to how many businesses currently use OTT messaging apps like WhatsApp.

A recent report from Emergen Research said that businesses are increasingly adopting RCS because of its ability to engage customers effectively: “Research suggests that RCS messages are read 35 times more often than emails, and engagement with brands using RCS is 74% higher.”

The catch is that consumers need a phone that is compatible with RCS – which at the moment is limited to Android phones running Android 5.0 or later. iPhones currently do not support the RCS Universal Profile, although Apple announced in November that iPhones will start supporting RCS later this year.

“We hope that this service can support digital transformation in various types of businesses and open up new opportunities for business innovation in the future, » said Jason Choy, international director of Android and Business Communication Product Partnerships at Google.

Telkomsel’s RCS play comes almost three months after rival telco Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison launched Indonesia’s first RCS service in November.