With the Pixel 3A, T-Mobile just proved how broken the RCS Chat rollout has become

Pixel 3A and Pixel 3 are officially supported and sell mobile phones on T-Mobile.

Pixel 3A and Pixel 3 support the next generation of text messaging protocols called Universal Profile for RCS (or Rich Communication Services or Chat).

T-Mobile supports RCS.

However, Pixel 3A and Pixel 3 do not chat RCS on T-Mobile's network. How did you break this?

When Google first announced plans to support RCS chat on Android in April 2018, I thought I could move quickly to replace SMS on Android phones. RCS Chat is still not an end-to-end cryptographic communication service, but at least offers better chat features like acknowledgment, group chat and high quality attachments.

Pixel phones support RCS on many carriers, including: Verizon, Sprint, and Google's own Fi network (a good irony is that it is MVNO, which is typically deployed on the T-Mobile tower, although it can in theory access multiple cellular networks). Many Android phones on T-Mobile's network also support RCS, but full universal profile support is still pending.

Because Google used RCS on its own, we expected this deployment to be nearly complete. It will close shortly or will soon close all consumer text messaging apps. We are not actually a company that runs RCS (we will be willing to sell services to our carriers), but we have been a diplomat and have agreed with all carriers and supported them through Android.

After a year, progress in the United States was somewhat slow. Both Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile support Universal Profiles, so you can send text to people at other carriers. However, supporting RCS at the carrier level alone will not inform customers if you are a customer. Carriers must approve one support for each phone model on the network. T-Mobile appears to be invisible for Pixel phones.

Perhaps. I might be wrong! The technical details are very unclear to me. I am not an RCS expert, and I only play one on TV. I asked Google and T-Mobile to explain what happened here, but in the meantime there's T-Mobile's tweet. 9to5Google Found:

It is very difficult to accurately communicate all the technical nuances of why, how and why a telecommunications carrier supports a universal profile. It is difficult. For RCS. Carriers can support RCS rather than universal profiles. Carriers can support RCS, but they are not fully connected to interoperate with other carriers. Crowdsourced Google spreadsheets from Reddit are still the best source of information for ongoing information. AT & T does not have a universal profile by default (for example, Universal Profile).

If you want to know who is responsible, there is a handy Reddit thread. But the answer is simple. Blame everyone. Blame Google for pinning features essential to the whims and fantasies of your carrier. Instead of replacing an outdated SMS system, I blame carriers who are interested in underestimating non-existent 5G technology.

I got a reputation for listening to the message. Last night we made a live broadcast of Vergecast and talked to Hiroshi Lockheimer, our communications product manager, about the status of RCS. He did not specifically mention T-Mobile, but he said about the RCS in the US: "I honestly say this [carriers] and I feel frustrated at some speed."

According to Reddit's huge spreadsheet, RCS is much better internationally.

Finally, one thing to note is that all of these partners will start working on a truly interoperable RCS sometime in the good 5G. The standard still has a fundamental problem. This is not end-to-end encryption, and all governments can easily access the chat by subscribing to the carrier. I specifically asked Lockheimer about it and he said, "We can solve the problem … we are sure that we will be able to develop a standard for dealing with this incident."

It would be true, I hope it will be cleaner than RCS rollout. Until then, I have nothing to do but I have to wait. We will update this post when we receive an answer from T-Mobile or Google about why there is no RCS on Pixel phones.

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