T-Mobile, Google team up to promote RCS adoption

Could 2020 finally be the year for Rich Communications Services (RCS)? Signs are pointing that way, with the latest being an announcement by Google and T-Mobile that they’ve expanded RCS, so T-Mobile customers can get the same RCS experience when texting with Android users on other networks across the globe.

RCS started as the GSMA project joyn more than a decade ago. While Google has been a proponent of RCS for a while now – it acquired RCS pioneer Jibe Mobile back in 2015 – T-Mobile also points out its rich history with the technology. T-Mobile was the first to launch RCS in 2015 and worked with Android device makers to drive adoption of the features and build them directly into phones.

Now, nearly 40 phone models sold by T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile are ready to share RCS messages with Android users on other networks, and T-Mobile said work is underway to bring this capability to all RCS-enabled smartphones.

RELATED: Google delivers RCS to U.S. Android users

The deal with Google and T-Mobile is designed to boost texting capability so that customers can share high-res pictures and videos, see when someone is typing a response, and more. T-Mobile said its customers are relying on messaging more than ever right now to stay connected to friends and family.

In the first several weeks of social distancing, high-res photo and video sharing with RCS doubled on T-Mobile’s network. Now T-Mobile is boasting that it’s the first in the world to implement a full standards-based RCS Universal Profile 1.0 interconnect with Google’s Messages service. “That’s a fancy way of saying that T-Mobile Android customers with capable smartphones get RCS with Android users on other networks, too,” the “un-carrier” said in a press release.

“There’s never been a more important time to stay in touch with friends and family and enabling cross-network RCS messaging with Google is one way we can give T-Mobile customers a better experience to do just that,” said T-Mobile CTO Abdul Saad in a statement. “We were first in the U.S. to bring RCS messaging to customers in 2015 and will continue to innovate in this space. T-Mobile’s RCS customer base is among the largest in the world, and we won’t stop bringing customers ever better ways to connect.”

To get RCS features while messaging with customers on other networks, T-Mobile said its Android users need a device that supports RCS Universal Profile 1.0 and to be messaging with someone using chat features on Google’s Messages app. RCS features are built into T-Mobile’s network and natively into the phone’s messaging app, so Android customers on T-Mobile’s network won’t have to do anything or download an over-the-top app to get the benefits of RCS.

RELATED: Synchronoss wins RCS contract with Big 4 U.S. carriers

Last year, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to create a joint venture, the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI), to deliver a messaging service based on RCS, with deployment slated for 2020. Synchronoss Technologies won the contract to provide the platform for the new joint venture. 

Earlier this month when it announced a 10% reduction in its workforce during an earnings call, Synchronoss CEO Glenn Lurie said the company continued to work with CCMI with the goal of launching the RCS-based advanced messaging service later this year.