Verizon is finally catching up with other major U.S. carriers in supporting RCS messaging early next year. The media-rich messaging format, which looks and operates like Apple’s iMessage and Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger apps, has been angling to replace SMS for more than a decade.
The communication protocol allows text- and media-based messages to flow unimpeded between carriers and devices, but operators have been slow to adopt the new standard.
The first SMS message was sent 25 years ago. But in the last decade many over-the-top providers have developed and launched apps that circumvent carriers by allowing any mobile user to communicate openly and freely.
Text messages were a cash cow for carriers for many years, but the proliferation of smartphones, faster networks and readily available messaging apps effectively slashed that source of revenue in a rapid manner.
Replacing the standard SMS protocol has been a laborious effort, even with the support of Google, which has been trying to get every major carrier around the world on board with RCS. As such, more than a decade after the first Android device was released, Google has yet to deliver a messaging experience similar to Apple’s iMessage, which is simply built into every iOS device.
Verizon is a latecomer to RCS, but it’s not the last major U.S. carrier to support the technology. Sprint and US Cellular have adopted RCS and T-Mobile started rolling out support earlier this year, but AT&T has opted to use a proprietary version of RCS that effectively disrupts the entire premise of an industrywide standard.
Indeed, it appears that carriers like Verizon are finally embracing RCS because of the new opportunities it presents around business messaging. Twilio spilled details about Verizon’s plans earlier this month when it told investors about the carrier’s plans to launch a new service that would charge businesses a quarter of a cent for every application-to-person message.
According to a report by The Verge, Verizon’s SVP of consumer products, Aparna Khurjekar, told attendees at a small business event last week that the carrier will launch support for RCS messaging in “early 2019.”