T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T form group to launch RCS messaging service


RCS messaging support among the U.S. carriers has been a bit spotty to date, but now the four big operators say that they’re working to change that.

T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T today announced that they’ve formed a new joint venture called the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI). The group is working to develop and deploy a messaging service based on the Rich Communications Service (RCS) standard starting with Android devices in 2020.

The carriers say that CCMI will help to accelerate the adoption of RCS and enable a “single seamless, interoperable RCS experience across carriers, both in the U.S. and globally.” This includes RCS features like chatting with individuals or groups across carriers with high-quality photos and video as well as support for chatting with businesses, paying bills, and more.

To achieve its goal, CCMI says it’ll work with its carrier ownership group as well as “other companies in the RCS ecosystem.”

“At the Un-carrier, customers drive everything we do, and that’s no different here,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. “Efforts like CCMI help move the entire industry forward so we can give customers more of what they want and roll out new messaging capabilities that work the same across providers and even across countries.”

More details on the CCMI and their RCS-based messaging service will be announced at a later date.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about CCMI and its push to grow RCS adoption in the U.S., like if it’ll need a brand new app and what companies the four carriers are working with on the service. Google has been trying to boost RCS usage in recent years, but so far Sprint is the only major U.S. carrier that has really embraced RCS. T-Mobile only offers it on a handful of Samsung and OnePlus phones.

RCS messaging offers several benefits over standard SMS texting, including typing and read receipts, support for higher-quality photos, and more, so it would be great to see RCS gain more traction in the U.S. We’ll just have to wait and see if the carriers can actually do that with CCMI.


UPDATE: More info on the CCMI has now come out. Speaking to The Verge, general manager Doug Garland has confirmed that CCMI will release a new Android app next year that will support RCS features like typing indicators, higher-quality attachments, and improved group chat. The app “should” also be compatible with the Universal Profile standard for RCS. Finally, Garland says that CCMI will work with other companies to make sure their RCS clients are interoperable, such as Google and Samsung.

Source: T-Mobile

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  • Ben


    • John Doe

      Hold your horses, we still don’t know if this is Universal Profile RCS or some proprietary one like the Samsung one T-Mobile is using. The fact that Google is not involved says a lot and also the fact that Google is rolling RCS without them (they started in Europe) is scarring the crap out of them.

      • Leo209

        The press release specifically says: Create a single seamless, interoperable RCS experience across carriers, both in the U.S. and globally

        • John Doe

          Yes that could mean a new standard based on RCS. It could be a new messaging app.

          RCS Universal profile is already interoperable there is no need to create anything else lmao

        • Aaron a

          Tmobile rcs only works with TMobile phones

        • marque2

          Even less than that. Only TMobile phones from Samsung

        • King Fro Man

          Even less than that. Only Samsung’s messaging app.

      • JG

        Based on what I’ve read on other sites, this will be something the carriers themselves create. It won’t be the standard UP that Google is pushing, but it will be compatible with their setup none-the-less…

  • John Doe

    2020? Really? WTF? Hopefully Google speeds up the clock and rolls out RCS in their app in the US. They already rolled it out in the UK and France to 311 million users without carrier support.

    • senoredusty

      To be fair, 2020 is less than three months away. Not as drastic as it sounds.

      • John Doe

        well the end of 2020 is also a year and three months away. They did not say when in 2020

    • DeepArgument

      It’s already rolled out , straight talk and net10 already enabled RCS , I tested with multiple phones. Also alot of people reporting they have RCS enabled, check RCS sub on Reddit

      • alfonzso

        Yup, Sprint as well.

  • Brian

    Why do they need to form a group? There is already international interoperability. Other countries already have it.

  • Sharti24

    Ok, how about HD voice interoperability first

    • Jason Caprio

      LOL YOu beat me to it! It amazes me that years have gone by and it still sounds like crap when I call a T-Mobile or Sprint phone from my Verizon phone. AT&T and Verizon have perfect HD voice between each other.

      • Nate

        Yeah, that would be nice. My tmobile to tmobile calls sound great. Call to someone with other carrier, not so much.

      • Sharti24

        Can sprint even do HD voice Since their calls drop to 1X? Pretty sure you have to have VOLTE for HD voice to work

  • Aaron a

    Google let’s bypass and launch rcs no need to wait for carriers. Now we have to wait for carriers instead of Google they keep pushing rcs back. This is the one of the reasons I’m thinking of switching to apple

    • marque2

      Not sure how switching would help you.

      • Aaron a

        Because back in 8 years ago apple has advanced messaging while Android hasn’t once tackled something Mei messaging already has. Come to find out the carriers are working against Google to make a app instead of updating towers to support an actual standard

        • marque2

          Ok so 20% of the time you will have a few extra features. Which of those features that are missing are preventing you from texting today?

          Text was designed to be really simple and compatible with everything. It isn’t Facebook.

          It just seems odd – I have never felt compelled to buy another brand phone due to not being able to text.

        • Martyy

          There a lot of benefits of iMessage over SMS.
          – End-to-end encryption. …
          – Read receipts and live typing. …
          – Add effects . …
          – Syncs messages across devices. …
          – Send messages over wifi. . …
          – Download iMessage apps

          I tried going back to android last year but the messaging does feel outdated once youve been on iOS and well for me the majority of people i communicate, friends and family all have iMessage as well.

        • marque2

          The problem is except for a few technonerds most folks don’t really care about any of those features. Except for encryption – and I am not texting my deep dark secrets – I don’t see anything compelling on the list – some of which is partially in the current system anyway.

        • Vahdyx

          Agreed, I’d much rather have CCMI/RCS than encryption. Don’t get me wrong encryption is nice and all, but I’m so over SMS it’s not even funny.

  • alfonzso

    No mention of security, privacy, encryption? Oh yeah, of course not, the big 4 wouldn’t wanna give us that, would they? Signal Messenger FTW!!! Make it the default Android messaging app already!