YOU ARE AT:BusinessGoogle launches RCS messaging for US users

Google launches RCS messaging for US users

Google has begun rolling out its own Rich Communications Services messaging service to U.S. users, just weeks after the four national U.S. carriers formed an RCS joint venture.

In a blog post, Sanaz Ahari, Google product management director, writes that the new capabilities are already available for some users in Google’s Messages app, and that as of yesterday, the company was “starting to broadly roll them out in the U.S. … We expect this service to be broadly available in the U.S. by the end of year.

Google’s move comes on the heels of the four current Tier 1 U.S. mobile network operators forming a joint venture focused on cross-carrier interoperability for RCS. The new Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative, or CCMI, expects to develop and deploy RCS-based interoperable messaging starting with Android, and beginning next year.

Public comments from each of the carrier CEOs on the initiative focused on RCS as a platform for advertiser-to-consumer messagesRonan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said that “CCMI will create the foundation for an innovative digital platform that not only connects consumers with friends and family, but also offers a seamless experience for consumers to connect with businesses in a compelling and trusted environment.” Meanwhile, David Christopher, executive vice president and general manager, AT&T Mobility, called RCS “the foundation of a simple, immersive messaging experience” that will “power new and innovative ways for customers to engage with each other and their favorite brands.”

Ahari wrote that Messages RCS features will include the ability to chat over either Wi-Fi or cellular networks, “send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages” as well as improvements to group chats including the ability to name groups and to add people to groups or remove them from groups.

Users who already have the Messages app will be prompted to enable the new features in the coming weeks, Ahari added. She noted that Google enabled the features earlier this year for users in the U.K., France and Mexico and “we’ll continue to work on bringing this to everyone on Messages around the world.

“We’re also committed to working with our partners, including carriers and device makers, to provide a consistent and interoperable experience for everyone on Android,” she added.

The RCS standard has been around for a number of years, but adoption has been relatively slow. Inter-carrier cooperation on RCS is one of the necessary pieces that has to be in place for it to be successful, according to Mary Clark, CMO of Synchronoss, who has written that “the combination of RCS and operator cooperation will give operators the ability to deliver an advanced messaging experience to their subscribers in a way that eliminates the need for OTT services” such as WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat and others, which require users to download the same app in order to communicate with one another.

At the recent Competitive Carriers Association conference,  Josh Wigginton, VP of product management at Interop Technologies, told an audience that 2019 was a pivotal year for RCS. “Today, RCS is about remaining competitive and relevant,” Wigginton said. “There are 300 million active RCS users globally, and 80 carriers have launched it around the world.” He expects there to be over a billion RCS users by next year.

Wigginton said at CCA that an increased interest in application-to-person messaging, to connect brands and businesses to subscribers, has changed the business case for RCS. “If you think about the way marketing works, it follows the eyeballs,” explained Wigginton. “Now, messaging is where the eyeballs are, so that’s where the brand wants to engage subscribers.”


Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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