The big news of the Pixel 3 launch has been the broader availability for the phone, with Optus and Vodafone beginning to offer both phones on their network in addition to Telstra. Telstra is Australia’s first Telco to offer Rich Communication Services (RCS) on their network and it appears they’ll remain so after the launch of Google’s new flagship phones.
Telstra started offering RCS on their network with the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge and Galaxy S8/S8+ in October last year, before bringing it to Pixel and Pixel 2 phones earlier this year and as of November 1st to the Pixel 3.
Broadly, RCS offers a much improved service over SMS, with the benefits of multi-media playback including voicemail in a chat, read receipts for messages, file sending and more. Telstra lists the full features of RCS as:
- Use a single inbox for SMS, MMS & RCS data message types
- Have your Voicemail delivered as an audio file with speech to text attached if you are a Telstra Voice2Text or Message2text customer
- Have your Voicemail delivered as an audio file if you’re a MessageBank customer
- Send any file type including pictures, videos, documents & voice messages (up to 19MB)
- Create Group conversations for the people you message most, group members (must be Telstra Messaging customers)
- Exchange chat messages or files when you are connect to Wi-Fi
- See when your RCS chat messages and files have been delivered
- See when your SMS messages have been delivered
- See when another Telstra Messaging contact is online, last active or typing a message to you
- Undelivered RCS File Transfers are stored and forwarded when you’re back online
- Undelivered RCS chat messages will be sent as SMS
- Share your location with a friend or group of friends that have Telstra Messaging
The use of RCS on mobile networks is being pushed by the GSM Association, as well as by Google after their purchase of leading RCS provider Jibe in 2015. Google has been integrating RCS and the Universal RCS Profile outlined by the GSMA for some time.
Telstra is a signatory to the RCS Universal Profile, as are Optus and their parent company Singtel, as well as Vodafone. And of course, Google, as well as Microsoft are signed on to integrate RCS into their platform.
Google has begun focusing on RCS more in their Android Messages app, dropping work on their ‘other’ messaging client Allo to further build out what they’ve deemed ‘Chat’ as the catch-all name for RCS services in Messages. RCS does require buy-in from OEMs as well, and Samsung and Google announced a partnership to integrate RCS into their phones going forward last month.
When asked about whether they would be supporting RCS on their network with the launch of the Pixel 3, an Optus spokesperson said
Optus is still monitoring the development of Rich Communication Services. We’re considering the accessibility of this functionality in current handsets and how smartphone manufacturers are responding to this technology.
Vodafone too is taking a more cautious approach with RCS implementation on their network with a Vodafone spokesperson acknowledged the Pixel 3 will not have RCS and saying
Vodafone Australia has been monitoring the progress of RCS for some time. At this stage implementation is not planned, but as more devices become available and delivery of a more seamless messaging experience is developed, we will take another look at this technology.
Google has been focused on pushing the adoption of Rich Communication Services at carriers all around the world. SMS is old, and offers very little in terms of functionality beyond the basics, whereas RCS offers so much.
The broader availability of Pixel 3 in Australia this year points to a push by Google to get Vodafone and Optus adopting RCS on their networks. With their current status as signatories to the GSMA Universal Messaging Profile for RCS they’re part way there, so hopefully a flagship Google phone is another step to seeing adoption of RCS across Australian Telcos this year.
We’ll keep you updated if any changes in RCS occur, but if you hear anything let us know.