Sprint, T-Mobile US, Verizon and AT&T are going all-in on RCS, with a new joint venture to enable cross-carrier RCS messaging.
The new Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative, or CCMI, expects to develop and deploy Rich Communications Service-based interoperable messaging starting with Android, and beginning next year. The carriers offered few other details in their announcement.
The RCS standard has been around for a number of years, but adoption has been relatively slow. Inter-carrier cooperation on RCS is one of the necessary pieces that has to be in place for it to be successful, according to Mary Clark, CMO of Synchronoss, who has written that “the combination of RCS and operator cooperation will give operators the ability to deliver an advanced messaging experience to their subscribers in a way that eliminates the need for OTT services” such as WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat and others, which require users to download the same app in order to communicate with one another.
At the recent Competitive Carriers Association conference, Josh Wigginton, VP of product management at Interop Technologies, told an audience that 2019 was a pivotal year for RCS. “Today, RCS is about remaining competitive and relevant,” Wigginton said. “There are 300 million active RCS users globally, and 80 carriers have launched it around the world.” He expects there to be over a billion RCS users by next year.
Wigginton said at CCA that an increased interest in application-to-person messaging, to connect brands and businesses to subscribers, has changed the business case for RCS. “If you think about the way marketing works, it follows the eyeballs,” explained Wigginton. “Now, messaging is where the eyeballs are, so that’s where the brand wants to engage subscribers.”
RCS “makes it easy for consumers and businesses to interact in an environment they can trust,” said Michel Combes, president and CEO of Sprint, in a statement on the formation of CCMI. “As we have seen in Asia, messaging is poised to become the next significant digital platform. CCMI will make it easy for consumers to navigate their lives from a smartphone.”
“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,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile US.
Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said that “CCMI will create the foundation for an innovative digital platform that not only connects consumers with friends and family, but also offers a seamless experience for consumers to connect with businesses in a compelling and trusted environment.”
“People love text messaging for a reason. Texting is trusted, reliable and readily available—which is why we’re using it to build the foundation of a simple, immersive messaging experience,” said David Christopher, executive vice president and general manager, AT&T Mobility. “This service will power new and innovative ways for customers to engage with each other and their favorite brands.”