Deutsche Telekom finally launches joyn

Deutsche Telekom has finally launched a joyn service in Germany just weeks after blaming technical difficulties for delays to its introduction of the technology.

The German incumbent becomes the latest operator to add joyn, the brand name for the Rich Communication Suite-enhanced (RCS-e) standard backed by the GSM Association (GSMA), to its portfolio of services.

Widely seen as an attempt by operators to fight over-the-top players on their own terms, joyn has been heavily criticised as too little and too late.

Deutsche Telekom has finally launched a joyn service in Germany just weeks after blaming technical difficulties for delays to its introduction of the technology.

The German incumbent becomes the latest operator to add joyn, the brand name for the Rich Communication Suite-enhanced (RCS-e) standard backed by the GSM Association (GSMA), to its portfolio of services.

Widely seen as an attempt by operators to fight over-the-top players on their own terms, joyn has been heavily criticised as too little and too late.

The service has been plagued by interoperability issues and met with a lukewarm response from many consumers.

Nevertheless, a number of leading operators are now providing joyn services, including Vodafone Germany (Dusseldorf, Germany), Deutsche Telekom’s main domestic rival.

With Telefonica Germany (Munich, Germany) set to launch joyn later this year, the service will soon be available to more than 80% of German mobile customers, according to the GSMA.

Deutsche Telekom’s own service will allow customers to use messaging, file transfer and video services during voice calls.

“The joyn services are interoperable between different network operators and operating systems,” said Niek Jan van Damme, the board member with responsibility for Deutsche Telekom’s Germany business. “I am delighted that we can now offer our customers this service and keep helping to build the messaging standard of the future.”

The operator says that chat and file-transfer features are available at no extra charge for customers on flat-rate data or messaging plans.

Owing to security concerns, Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) does not, however, recommend that customers use the service on unencrypted WiFi networks until later this year.

“When joyn is used via a public WiFi network, initial portions of messages are not transmitted in encrypted form,” said the operator in a statement. “Deutsche Telekom plans to eliminate that limitation by summer 2013.”

The company says that a beta version of joyn is now available in the Google (Mountain View, USA) Play Store for Android and that a version will soon be made available in Apple’s (Cupertino, USA) App Store for iOS.

In the near future, it says, the service will come preinstalled on devices from Samsung (Seoul, South Korea), HTC (Taipei, Taiwan), Sony (Tokyo, Japan), Nokia (Helsinki, Finland), LG (Seoul, South Korea) and others.

According to forecasts from Infonetics Research, operators are set to make $1.6 billion in revenues from RCS services between 2012 and 2016.

Besides Germany, joyn services are now available in Spain, North America and South Korea, and the GSMA is anticipating launches in Italy and Latin America later this year.

At last week’s Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona, MetroPCS (Richardson, USA), the only US joyn provider, announced a service in partnership with software company Jibe Mobile (Mountain View, USA) that lets MetroPCS customers invite mobile-phone users on other networks to use some joyn services.

MetroPCS is clearly hoping to shore up interest in joyn through the collaboration.

Meanwhile, joyn has also received a publicity boost from South Korea’s SK Telecom (Seoul, South Korea), which recently claimed to have signed up 1 million joyn customers just 50 days after launching the service.