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French operators want to bury SMS to compete with WhatsApp

Determined to counter the giant WhatsApp, French operators want to offer their customers a new enriched universal messaging service, destined to replace our old SMS.

After two years of visibly conclusive tests, the group of operators AF2M, which includes Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free, has just announced the official launch of the RCS protocol (for Rich Communication Services). Designed to replace our old SMS, RCS will allow you to create group conversations, send images, videos and attachments, but also know if your interlocutor writes, receives or reads your messages. This new protocol will also allow communication without a mobile network, directly through Wi-Fi.

Finally, very close to the services that Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal and iMessages already offer, RCS protocol is now available in beta version on some Android smartphones since 2019. However, its formalization through French telecommunications operators could allow it to definitively impose itself on our communication habits.

Catch up with WhatsApp and Messenger

For AF2M, it’s above all about coming together to avoid falling further behind the web giants, WhatsApp and Apple in the lead. Made obsolete by the arrival of mobile messaging, SMS – and especially its rigidity – today we find it very difficult to adapt to the proliferation of our digital lives. By opting for the RCS protocol, operators hope to convince users to return to their native messaging app on smartphones.

Compete with commercial offers

While RCS already promises to make life easier for individual users, it could also prove very practical when used for commercial purposes. It is with this objective that telecommunications operators are acting this week. In a press release published by Renan Abgrail, the president of AF2M explains: “Brands express the need to start a conversation, by SMS, with their customers. Tomorrow you will have the possibility to send an SMS to your store to find out if they are your size during the sales period; you will have the possibility to order a cake in a bakery by SMS; you will have the possibility of interacting with a delivery company to define exactly the time slot in which you want to be delivered to your home ”.

Specifically, these super-commercial SMS will now allow customers and companies to communicate more easily, both to contact the after-sales service and order products via direct message, as well as to schedule a delivery. Powered by Google, the RCS protocol could quickly become popular on Android. Apple right now seems always closed to the idea.

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