T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray announced that the company will soon support RCS Business messaging for next-generation customer interaction, as well as a new industry standard called the GSMA Universal Profile. Both of these standards build upon T-Mobile's existing deployment of Rich Communication Services messaging, a standard that Ray notes the carrier released to its customers before anybody else back in 2015. All Android devices sold by T-Mobile currently support RCS messaging natively, and can use it with any compatible app, such as Android Messages. Updates bringing device software into compliance with the new standards and adding in the relevant features and enhancements will reportedly begin making their way out to customers in the second half of this year.
RCS Business is exactly what it sounds like; businesses and customers can take advantage of all of the features of RCS in order to communicate, which means that customers can do things like send out commands, questions, or product orders, and businesses can interact directly with customers on a unified, feature-rich platform. The GSMA Global Standard is a bit more complicated, and is essentially a set of standards and best practices applying to how companies deploy RCS and treat communications on the standard. Among other features, this new standard includes message attachments up to 100MB in size, built-in spam protection, and easier deployment and maintenance for OEMs and carriers. It is worth noting that iPhones, the most popular Android alternative on T-Mobile's network, do not support RCS messaging, and the comparable iMessage standard is not cross-compatible. For the uninitiated, the feature gulf between normal SMS messages and iMessage is part of the reason it's not hard to find anecdotal accounts of stigma associated with smartphone platforms outside of iOS.
RCS messaging was actually co-created by Google, and is being pushed hard as a next-generation feature for Android. All Android devices running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or higher technically support RCS natively, but will require a compatible network in order to use those features. A compatible messaging app is also required, and for many older devices, the end of support for popular RCS-compatible apps like Android Messages looms nigh, threatening to cut them off from the standard entirely. For recent devices, the growth of the feature set associated with RCS will complement expanding and accelerating LTE networks nicely as the march toward 5G heralds a full-on transition to richer standards and away from the likes of SMS messaging.