There may have been a great deal of rejoicing when Google announced that the Pixel 3a and even the Pixel 3 would no longer be a Verizon exclusive. Unfortunately, that might not mean that they will all be treated equal. Even as early as now, one fine print is coming to light after the rejoicing has died down. It turns out, T-Mobile won’t be supporting RCS on Google’s Pixel phones, casting both the carrier as well as the fledgling messaging system in a very negative light.
Unless T-Mobile makes miracles, it will have the only Pixel phones incapable of sending RCS messages to other RCS-capable phones. It has admitted on Twitter that Google’s new mid-range phones won’t have RCS support, which naturally raised a few questions, the biggest of them being “why?”.
It’s not that T-Mobile doesn’t support RCS at all. It does but only on a few Samsung Galaxy phones and the OnePlus 6T. The reason it gives is that the Pixel phones don’t have the “network-level authentication” it requires. Its RCS implementation, it explains, is implemented right into the core of the network and not something that is implemented per device.
But while it looks bad for T-Mobile, the issue has raised concerns about the adoption of RCS itself. This Rich Communication Services is being pushed to replace SMS and bring it to the level of instant messaging. It is, however, nowhere near the universality of SMS, especially considering how inconsistent support has been across both manufacturers and carriers alike.
It’s especially curious that T-Mobile and Google didn’t work together on this before the announcement. It’s hardly possible that T-Mobile was blindsided by it. And if Google itself didn’t push for it, then that doesn’t speak well of RCS’ biggest proponent and advocate.