By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three mobile carriers on Tuesday launched an upgraded text messaging service available on Samsung smartphones in a bid to challenge the nation's leading mobile messaging app Kakao Talk.
The three carriers -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. -- said they started the new service called Chatting+ compatible across their networks, which greatly expands the functions of the default text messaging app currently installed on smartphones.
Chatting+ is based on Rich Communication Services (RCS), a universally compatible messaging platform designed to replace short messaging service (SMS), the firms said.
While text messaging is still the most direct and widely used form of communication, local carriers have faced fierce competition with Kakao Talk, which has 43 million users on the back of free group chatting and easy data-sharing features as well as shopping, search and digital payment options.
Users of Samsung smartphones who install the new service will be able to send and receive short and multimedia messages up to 2,700 characters in Korean and 4,000 characters in English. They can include up to 100 participants in a group chat, transfer files that are up to 100 megabytes and transfer money.
LG Electronics Inc. will also launch RCS-compatible devices later this year to join the service, according to the mobile carriers.
The carriers said they will offer the service for free without data deduction by the end of this year to expand the user base in the early stage.
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