Four major cellphone carriers said they will work together to improve the quality of text messaging with consumers, and hopefully this time it won't share a name with a terrorist group.
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AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon announced on Thursday the creation of a joint venture called the Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative, which will deploy a new messaging service starting with Android devices as soon as next year.
The new service will replace the current SMS/MMS standard (most texts sent between non-Apple devices are SMS/MMS) with the new Rich Communication Services (RCS) standard. This new RCS protocol will offer new features like the ability to request and send "read" receipts or to send and receive video messages as well.
AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have partnered on a joint venture before. Their unfortunately-named Isis mobile wallet platform launched in 2012. Wanting to not be compared with the Middle Eastern terrorist organization with a similar name, the venture changed its name to Softcard in 2014, Bloomberg reported. Google acquired the company and integrated parts of it into its Google Wallet service in 2015.
Michel Combes, President and CEO of Sprint, said in a statement that the new joint venture will bring a “consistent, engaging experience” that makes messaging easier for consumers.
“As we have seen in Asia, messaging is poised to become the next significant digital platform,” he said. “[The initiative] will make it easy for consumers to navigate their lives from a smartphone.”
RCS messaging will also create a seamless experience across carriers around the world.
David Christopher, the executive vice president and general manager of AT&T Mobility, said the service will “power new and innovative ways for customers to engage with each other and their favorite brands.”
The new standard will also provide customers the ability to message brands in order to do things like order a ride, pay bills or schedule appointments, the companies said.
“People love text messaging for a reason,” Christopher said. “Texting is trusted, reliable and readily available — which is why we’re using it to build the foundation of a simple, immersive messaging experience.”