Verizon to launch RCS text messaging in early 2019

Tim Maytom

Verizon has revealed that it plans to launch support for RCS messaging in "early 2019", marking a significant step forward in the multimedia messaging format achieving more widespread use. The plans were announced by Aparna Khurjekar, senior vice president of consumer products, at a business-focused GSMA event in New Jersey.

RCS is set to become the new texting standard to replace SMS on all phones, but so far has been largely limited by carrier adoption, as it relies on mobile operators updating their systems to support the more advanced messaging technology.

Updating requires operators to support the 'universal profile', the version of RCS technology that enables messages to interoperate easily between carriers. So far, this standard has seen mixed adoption, with Sprint and US Cellular updating to the universal profile, and T-Mobile providing limited support for the format. Meanwhile, Verizon and main rival AT&T currently use a proprietary texting system.

Khurjekar's statements at the event have not been confirmed by Verizon, which has also not confirmed a specific timeline for RCS adoption, or whether the firm's plans for RCS include adoption of the universal profile. However, according to The Verge, the GSMA claims that Verizon's RCS system will support Universal Profile RCS, which will allow for fully-featured RCS functionality between phones on different networks.

The statements at the event also jibe with a statement made earlier this month by Lee Kirkpatrick, chief financial officer at messaging-focused firm Twilio.  In an earnings call regarding the firm's Q3 financial results, Kirkpatrick indicated that Verizon would be launching support for RCS in February 2019, saying that "starting in February, Verizon is planning on creating a new service offering, which will add a quarter of the penny fee per message to all businesses with A2P SMS messaging use cases."