The biggest names in wireless service (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint) have finally gotten around to working together on a replacement for SMS. Long anticipated, the next generation RCS messaging standard should ship with phones in 2020.
The four carriers have formed a joint venture called the Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI) and pledge to launch a new text messaging client for Android phones in the coming year.
Known as Rich Communication Services (RCS), it’s yet to really take off with any particular phone maker or carrier. Google has been championing the cause for some time and has been its biggest advocate.
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There have been a number of obstacles standing in the way of RCS, one of which is the lack of a universally agreed upon standard for interoperability. The so-called “Universal Profile” figures to be addressed now that the carriers have pledged to play nicely with each other.
Another sticky issue is that it doesn’t look to be encrypted from end-to-end. This opens the door to potential surveillance or governmental bodies requesting the data. Google, for its part has started rolling out RCS support for Android phones in France and the UK, keeping the data only long enough to send and receive.
Although the CCMI joint venture is comprised of US-based carriers, the plan is to create a seamless experience that works across service providers in the US and globally.
More information regarding the rollout will be announced at a later date.