By Lee Minji
SEOUL, Dec. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean mobile operators said Tuesday they plan to introduce a new communications platform that integrates messaging, voice and data transaction services, a move aimed to better compete with free-of-charge mobile messenger services that have recently gained nationwide popularity.
SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. said in separate press releases they will launch the service on Wednesday under the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA)'s "joyn" brand. The GSMA is a global association of nearly 800 mobile operators in more than 220 countries.
Subscribers of mobile carriers that have adopted the service can message, call and send files to other subscribers regardless of network or device.
Users can download the joyn application for free at mobile app stores. While the service is only compatible on some of the latest smartphone devices, mobile carriers plan to extend the tool to all third-generation and long-term evolution smartphones and implant the service on all smartphones released next year.
By downloading the platform, subscribers can connect to the social network services of contacts within their mobile phone book and send individual and group messages of up to 5,000 characters.
They can also share videos, maps and images in real-time during a call, according to the three companies.
The introduction of the Rich Communications Service (RCS) comes as mobile carriers are battling a growing popularity of free mobile messenger services that have eaten into the messaging and data transaction profits of mobile carriers.
Mobile operators expect the RCS to capture smartphone users as well as feature phone users who have been excluded from the mobile messenger boom.
The RCS has been commercialized in Germany, Spain and the U.S. The number of RCS users is forecast to reach 150 million by the end of 2013, according to the GSMA.