Google is bringing RCS chat to its Google Fi network and faster data speeds for users who roam internationally. RCS, or rich communication services, is a next-generation protocol for messaging intended to eventually replace SMS and become the new global standard.
Google has been one of the most ardent supporters of RCS, a standard originally formed in 2007 that’s taken more than a decade to start gaining traction. Operators have been slow to adopt the standard, and support remains limited.
Sprint and US Cellular have adopted the technology and T-Mobile started rolling out support earlier this year, but AT&T is using a proprietary version of RCS. Verizon is reportedly planning to start supporting RCS early this year.
Google is now making RCS automatically available on phones designed to work on its Fi network and compatible Android devices, including the Pixel phones and smartphones from LG and Motorola. Other Android users can gain access to RCS by downloading the Google Messages app.
Google also announced plans to improve network speeds for Google Fi customers who roam in 33 countries. The network provides automatic 4G LTE data coverage to its users in more than 200 countries and territories for the same price it charges in the U.S. The faster data speeds will be live in the next few weeks, and RCS is available now on compatible devices, according to Google.