WebRTC World Feature Article

January 18, 2013

Will Joyn Succeed?

Many would say it is too early to say whether the Rich Communications Service (RCS) initiative will succeed in stemming the shift of end user use of over the top instant messaging services, compared to the use of text messaging. And some might argue joyn will meet a fate not dissimilar from other global standards efforts related to next generation networks.

Only now, after five years of development, are the first major global mobile service providers actually declaring operational support for joyn, as RCS is branded.

Joyn, also known as Rich Communication Services (RCS), is the network operators' answer to Skype, Viber and all the other OTT players. The vision is that a huge global community of users can be created, a network effect that is crucial for communications services that require interoperability between networks.

But so far, only in South Korea, Germany and Spain have all the leading mobile service providers supporting joyn, creating the foundation for ubiquity, at least within each country, and between users in each of those countries. In the United States, MetroPCS adopted Joyn, and one assumes T-Mobile USA eventually will announce its support as well.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless have been part of the standards effort, though neither carrier yet has announced actual deployment.

Joyn, the brand created to support Rich Communication Services (RCS), allows customers to make Internet-based voice calls and video calls and send chat messages as well. Joyn supports individual and group messages of up to 5,000 characters.

Some think joyn will face major obstacles.  As with all global standards, it has taken time to get joyn finalized.

Consider that the standards effort has been underway for about five years, and only now is able to start signing up commercial users. That is a long time; compared to what the over the top providers are able to do, in terms of deployment speed.

In fact, some might argue that using a traditional standards process, in a world where app development is so fast, almost dooms such efforts to failure or limited success. One might note that virtually all of the telco-designed next generation network standards essentially have failed, or achieved only limited success.

That includes Integrated Services Digital Network, Broadband ISDN (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and IP Multimedia Subsystems. So far, though it is too early to say what might happen with joyn, one doesn’t see the sort of development speed the over the top providers are capable of.

And that still raises the question: if the OTT providers have hundreds of millions of users, suggesting they provide a solution consumers prefer, what is the incentive to switch to joyn?

To be sure, the carriers will potentially have the ability to leverage their installed base of subscribers. But it is those same subscribers who are driving the adoption of the over the top services. So we'll have to wait and see. But the track record, regarding next generation network protocols, is not good.

Edited by Brooke Neuman


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