This year saw the US finally start to make small steps towards adopting RCS messaging, the next-generation texting standard that’s designed to replace SMS with the advanced features we see in dedicated messaging apps, including read receipts, group chats, and better compatibility between different carriers, especially on Android. Now it’s looking like 2019 might be the year we start to see major progress from carriers, as Verizon has revealed it will officially start supporting RCS early next year.
At a small industry event earlier this week, Verizon’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Products announced that the carrier would be supporting RCS starting in “early 2019,” without giving a specific date. The company wouldn’t confirm if it would be using the Universal Profile 1.0 version of RCS, which is backed by Google and offers a full replacement of SMS, but allows compatibility between carriers and device manufacturers.
In the US, Universal Profile RCS is currently only used by Sprint and US Cellular, with limited support on T-Mobile starting back in the summer. The country’s two biggest carriers, AT&T and Verizon, continue to use their own proprietary texting systems. However, a GSMA representative told The Verge that Verizon’s RCS support would include Universal Profile 1.0.
There’s expectation that Verizon’s updating messaging system could debut as early as February, which isn’t that far off. In the past, AT&T has given vague statements about upgrading their networks to support RCS Universal Profile, but hasn’t offered any timeframe for when they might be ready.