It's not often that we see all four major U.S. carriers team up on something, but that's precisely what's happening today.
Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint have announced the formation of the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative (CCMI). The goal of the group is to help make Rich Communications Service (RCS) messaging more widely available.
CCMI says that it's working to develop and deploy a messaging service based on the RCS standard starting with Android in 2020. The group says that it's working with its carrier ownership group as well as "other companies in the RCS ecosystem."
The goal is to create a seamless, interoperable RCS messaging experience that works across carriers in the U.S. and globally. The carriers say they want to help get users a better messaging experience for individuals and groups with high-quality photos and videos as well as the ability for consumers to chat with businesses, pay bills, schedule appointments, and more.
That's about all we know about the effort right now, but the carriers say that more info about CCMI and its RCS messaging initiative will be announced in the future.
Google has been making a big push to grow RCS adoption in recent years, working with carriers and deploying its Jibe Hub to help get RCS and its benefits to more Android users. Sprint is the only U.S. carrier that's gotten behind RCS in a meaningful way, though, with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon only supporting it on a handful of devices.
There's no mention of Google in today's CCMI announcement, so it's unclear if Google is involved in the carriers' effort in any way. Google recently began working to take Android's RCS messaging rollout into its own hands and began pushing it out to Android users in the U.K. and France with the goal of expanding to more countries. It hasn't arrived in the U.S. yet, though, and so now the U.S. carriers look like they're going to try their hand and growing RCS adoption here. We don't yet know what that'll look like, such as if a new app will be required, but CCMI says that we'll learn more next year, so stay tuned.
UPDATE: We're now learning a bit more info about the CCMI's plans. General manager Doug Garland tells The Verge that CCMI plans to launch a new Android app next year that will support RCS features like typing indicators, higher-res attachments, and better group chat. It "should" also be compatible with the Universal Profile standard for RCS used by other carriers.
Garland also says that the CCMI plans to work with other companies using RCS, such as Samsung and Google, to make sure their apps are interoperable.