RCS messaging is changing the way messaging works on your phone. It is a relatively important topic, because millions of people use RCS, even if they don’t realize it.
What is RCS?
At its core, it is text messaging. Of course, text messaging has been around for decades now and in 2017, it was estimated that there were 9.3 trillion texts sent in just the United States.
Rich Communication Services (RCS) is the next generation that will upgrade text messaging for a new age. With RCS, people will be able to send high resolution photos, share files, update their location, conduct video calls, make payments, and much more.
You simply can’t do that with traditional text messaging.
RCS is far more interactive and boasts many additions that SMS can’t support. It has been around since about 2008. There are numerous apps utilizing Rich Communication Services, including WeChat and WhatsApp, among others.
How does RCS Work?
In the beginning, RCS was complicated to integrate because of the elevated cost of this new technology. There was also a lack of standardization. Yet, as different messaging apps and other platforms were united under the Global System for Mobile Communications or GSMA’s Universal Profile for RCS, things became more streamlined.
This new technology can be integrated with a variety of apps. They can share contacts and even be used in groups. Of course, so can SMS. Being able to share media, update the user’s location, and provide other information, there is a broader range of assets that RCS can bring to the table.
That being said, the only way that Rich Communication Services can be utilized is if both parties are using a compatible messaging app. One of the key advantages with RCS, though, is that even if one party doesn’t have an app supporting RCS, it will default to SMS or even MMS, which is what Facebook Messenger is currently using.
A Key Benefit to RCS
One of the major benefits that users will enjoy with RCS is not having to agree to third-party platform groups or video chats. The service will be directly tied to the mobile number. This also means that once you purchase a new phone with RCS capability, you won’t have to do anything different.
This will essentially provide a completely cross-platform messaging service that can work with a variety of platforms and apps.
Of course, this also means that developers and other companies are going to have to integrate to use RCS more effectively. That may take time. But because of RCS being connected to the GSMA’s Universal Profile, which is a global association of network operating companies that focus on unifying standards for the communication industry, this will help to streamline the process of integration over time.
Is RCS secure?
One of the major concerns businesses and individuals might have when it comes to RCS technology, is security. This is especially compounded when you consider all the information that can be sent over this communication system.
RCS will verify the sender of each message. Because it will be directly tied to a phone number, it will be very difficult for somebody to hack into the system and it will also prevent or reduce phishing expeditions or other scams.
Unfortunately, there is growing concern about a lack of end-to-endencryption. This could lead to privacy concerns. In other words, if you send a message using RCS, there may be concerns about whether your information is truly private or if certain components of the message being sent will be secure between just you and the person you are sending the message to.
What phones will support RCS?
Even though it is still in development and working its way out into the public, Google, as the designer and developer of this communication system, is focused on making sure it will be available on all phones, eventually.
At the moment, only certain regions around the world have full access to RCS. There are a number of hurdles that need to be overcome in order for RCS to be integrated everywhere around the world.
For example, all of Japan is fully integrated with RCS technology, meaning their main carriers and all phone services are currently utilizing RCS. However, that is not the case everywhere else around the world. In the United States and some European nations, there are a number of phone carriers that are RCS enabled, but not all of them.
In fact, at the moment, Japan is the only country that is fully integrated. The United States, Canada, and those select European nations have some integration. Several other countries, including Brazil, India, a few other European nations, and Mexico were scheduled to launch multiple carriers with RCS integration in 2018.
Many other nations, including Russia, China, Australia, and some in South America as well as Africa have launched RCS, but there are limits because not all carriers are utilizing this communication service.
How will you know if RCS is enabled?
If your phone has more features when sending SMS or MMS messages, including the ability to send video files, other files, add your location, and so forth, then it has RCS enabled on it. If it doesn’t, then your phone or the carrier may not support such integration just yet.
You can contact your phone carrier service, such as Verizon, AT&T, Cricket, and so forth and find out if they provide for RCS communication messages, but you can also simply look at your main text messaging app you use on your phone and see what kind of features it allows you to send.
If it is limited to texting with a few emoticons or other smiley face features and so forth, but nothing else, then RCS is not likely available on your phone or carrier at this time.
Does RCS use Wi-Fi?
No, RCS depends on the phone number you are using with your service. It is just like texting, so you will not be able to receive these types of messages on a computer or tablet, unless your device is connected to a phone service, like Verizon or AT&T.
What occurs when you send an RCS message across an available app and service, is that your phone will send a query to the person you plan to send this message to in order to determine if it is RCS capable. If the recipient’s phone does also have RCS, you will be allowed to use the available messaging options, including sending files, videos, and so forth.
If the recipient’s phone does not utilize RCS yet, then the messaging app you use will revert back to the traditional and basic SMS experience.
Is RCS messaging free?
It is very similar to SMS and MMS services, which will be provided through your phone carrier. That means, even though it may not technically be ‘free,’ it is included in your monthly service fees when you have RCS availability through your carrier.
In other words, you won’t have to pay extra for every RCS message you send or receive. It will be integrated into your service. Some apps in the future, though, may charge for some services, but that is independent of RCS itself.
How do I install RCS messaging?
If your phone is RCS capable and your phone’s carrier, the service you pay monthly for, allows for RCS, you won’t have to do anything different. Some apps that you currently use may not integrate with RCS, so it may be necessary to choose a different app from your app store to download if you want to use RCS messaging.
All in all, RCS will be just like text messaging or other MMS messaging services in that it will be smoothly integrated, so that you barely notice the impact it is having on your phone. However, you will certainly be able to enjoy the benefits that RCS offers when it comes to enhanced messaging features.
The best way to maximize your chances of using RCS is if you are using an Android phone, to use Google’s own Messages app. From there, you may need to force it to use RCS, but you can turn to a user’s guide to figure out how to do this for your specific phone.
A lot of people already have access to RCS around the world. You might, too. The only way you will determine this is to begin using a message app or service you know is RCS ready. If you download that app or begin using it on your phone and you do not see the ability to send files, video chat, or enjoy other features, then it means either your phone or the service carrier may not be fully integrated with RCS integration just yet.