T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) announced it launched new messaging services based on Rich Communication Services (RCS) technology. The carrier said the service will be called Advanced Messaging and will be available initially on the new Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime smartphone. The carrier said it will soon update the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S5 to support the technology as well.
"Nearly a dozen more hot devices will come with Advanced Messaging this year alone, and, in the future, we expect it will be a standard feature on new smartphones sold," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote in a post on the carrier's site announcing the news.
Ray said that T-Mobile's RCS-based Advanced Messaging service will support a number of new services, including group messaging, message delivery and read-mail notices, and the ability to send high-resolution photos and videos up to 10 MB.
Of course, most smartphone users already have access to such options through third-party services like Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iMessage, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Hangouts, Facebook's Messenger, and other services. Ray acknowledged as much: "For over a decade, while consumer tech companies like Facebook, Skype and Snapchat have been rolling out cool new messaging features and functions, U.S. wireless operators have made virtually zero advances in the messaging tech that comes built in to most phones."
But Ray said T-Mobile's service will eliminate the need for customers to use such third-party services: "With T-Mobile Advanced Messaging, you won't need to search out, download, install, setup and register an extra app to get all that and more. It just works. Right out of the box. And, even more important, because Advanced Messaging is built on the RCS standard, in the future, your real-time chats won't be held inside a single app or platform ecosystem."
T-Mobile said that, until other carriers and handset makers support the technology and service interoperability, Advanced Messaging will be confined to only those users with T-Mobile service and supporting devices.
T-Mobile's launch of RCS is notable considering MetroPCS launched RCS services in the United States under the GSMA's joyn brand in 2012. T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS in 2013, and has since remained relatively quiet on the topic. T-Mobile recently shut down the last of MetroPCS' CDMA markets. Apart from MetroPCS, a handful of other wireless carriers in Europe have also launched RCS services.
A Verizon (NYSE: VZ) representative said the carrier doesn't support RCS and has no timeframe to do so. However, she added that "Verizon Messages (with millions of users) offers many of the same features that were announced today," including delivery receipts, location messaging, cross-device support, and more.
"We, along with other North American and European operators, are working with handset and operating system manufacturers to implement this on a global scale," noted an AT&T spokesperson. "Since all RCS features are seamless evolutions of our services, customers have an effortless experience. Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) lays the foundation for the deployment of other RCS like video calls, rich messaging, presence-based capability and more, which we intend to launch in the future."
A Sprint (NYSE: S) representative said the carrier has been offering RCS services for a year now via the carrier's "Messaging Plus" app from Jibe Mobile.
Ray said T-Mobile's launch of RCS stems from the carrier's launch last year of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services.
- see this T-Mobile post
Jibe Mobile CEO says RCS isn't dead, points to native IP messaging embedded on smartphones
Sprint goes OTT with 'Messaging Plus' app from Jibe
Sprint, AT&T inch toward RCS-based joyn launches
Article update July 22 with details from Sprint, AT&T and Verizon