Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T end their cross-carrier RCS plans
The rollout of the RCS standard to replace SMS has been… well, rough, for lack of a better word. Google has been the main force behind broadening RCS adoption by including the feature inside their Messages app, cutting the middlemen (carriers) so everyone can get RCS with a simple toggle from their app, and making deals with OEMs, so the app comes preloaded on a lot of Android phones, but everyone also wants to do things their own way while others insist on proprietary messaging platforms for cold, hard cash (I’m looking at you, Apple). The result? Things are currently a mess, although they have improved a lot. Nonetheless, among those interested in RCS adoption are the 3 major U.S. carriers: Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. And their joint RCS initiative, the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative, was apparently axed according to a report from Light Reading (via: The Verge).
The CCMI was announced back in 2019 as a joint effort from all carriers to bring carrier-agnostic RCS support to all users in the United States. While the death of this initiative might seem like bad news at first, we have to remember that some parts of that initiative didn’t sit too well with users, particularly the part where these carriers were going to build their own app for handling RCS messages instead of using Google’s or another solution, and if there’s one thing we don’t need is more carrier bloatware, especially if it’s yet another messaging app. Google, as the biggest booster of this standard, was also not part of that announcement, further adding fuel to the fire.
This initiative has probably been dead for a long time, though: Sprint spearheaded the effort, and Sprint got swallowed by T-Mobile. And last month, T-Mobile announced a deal with Google that included officially supporting the Google Messages app, and their RCS feature, on all T-Mobile Android smartphones. So with Sprint now a part of T-Mobile and T-Mobile pretty much moving on from the CCMI, that initiative was already dead in the water: we just lacked a formal announcement.
On the one hand, Google has been doing a pretty good job getting RCS on people’s phones, even on a worldwide scale, and carriers just joining Google’s efforts instead of trying to make their own solutions is probably the better course of action. On the other hand, we don’t know what Verizon and AT&T will be doing going forward, although Verizon’s statement to Light Reading and an almost identical one from AT&T says that they remain committed to growing RCS:
The owners of the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative decided to end the joint venture effort. However, the owners remain committed to enhancing the messaging experience for customers including growing the availability of RCS.
Whatever they do going forward, though, let’s just hope that it doesn’t include a proprietary app.