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The CCMI could be the RCS solution that works because carriers can profit from it

RCS (Image credit: Android Central)

The CCMI — Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative — is the new way that the big four U.S. carriers are going to save messaging. According to them, this is an almost insurmountable task and it will take at least another year before a new app can be built so you and I can do the same thing WhatsApp — and Android Messages on every phone — is able to do when it comes to sending someone a message that's more than just text.


The CCMI is simply a way for the carriers to control the rollout of the RCS Universal Profile on their terms, their way, and so they can make more money. Just like any other service built atop a carrier network they get the final say and it always puts their interests first.

More: What is CCMI, the U.S. carriers' answer to universal RCS messaging?

First thing's first. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon own their respective networks and have the final say on how they are used. I get it and I'm sure you get it, too. We can dislike how things are done but until we find the means to start our own nationwide telecom and broadband company, we're stuck with it.

But that doesn't mean we have to like it or even that carriers should always make decisions that don't line up with what the customer wants or needs. That has always been the issue, and from the 3G rollout to the present day it seems like carriers have a knack for screwing us over so they can make a few more dollars.

Carriers are like any other business and the bottom line comes first. I just wish they were honest about that fact.

With the CCMI, the way they plan to make those dollars isn't clear at first. The joint press release is big on details about how the carriers can be the good guy and provide a "single seamless, interoperable RCS experience across carriers" because they value our such and such and all decisions are based on what's best for our whatever. But there are also some pretty big clues about the money side of things.

According to the Big Four, the CCMI will also "drive a robust business-to-consumer messaging ecosystem and accelerate the adoption of Rich Communications Services (RCS)". Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne lays it out further:

CCMI will create the foundation for an innovative digital platform that not only connects consumers with friends and family, but also offers a seamless experience for consumers to connect with businesses in a compelling and trusted environment.

In regular human speech, this means that carriers plan to find ways to get business pay to use RCS messaging. That's not surprising, but it's very unclear why enabling the RCS Universal Profile on a network then stepping out of the way can't offer the same thing. Include "Rich Communications" as part of a business telecom plan and call it done.

You mean the company that tracks my every move could offer "unique business opportunities" where other companies can talk to me? Nope. Nope.

The skeptic in me thinks that a business like your carrier that knows where you live, where you work and where you shop because it tracks your every move really shouldn't be involved in cooking up a scheme that lets other businesses chat with you over its network. That's because the realist in me knows that carriers already sell our location information and this is simply another way to profit from it.

More: What is RCS and why is it important?

Look, I can understand not wanting to give Google the keys to your fancy new RCS network. If it were my business, I wouldn't want to, either. But there is no need for more grandstanding and multi-year planning when we already know that it can just work using the existing methods. The CCMI is just another smokescreen that carriers hide behind while they count our money and sell our data. And I'm kind of sick of both.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • It's a good thing people from different countries never talk to each other, so we won't get conflicts between "standards". Everyone else reading this article is British, right? The worst part of this is that, power hungry control freak that it is, Google didn't seem to even want control over RCS. The only reason they acted is because they got sick of the network operators sitting on their thumbs!
  • Lol, people are just too stupid. Use "WhatsApp" and be done. You don't have to try to worry about getting RCS or buy apple etc... just download WhatsApp and you already can have it duh.
  • So when you try to message with someone without WhatsApp what happens? EVERYONE has text messaging, not everyone has the app you want to use. Before you call someone stupid think about what you're saying.
  • CCMI will never happen. There is no way the 3 big carriers will ever agree on a common platform. Especially with 5G roliimg out and the new TMobile finally having a Nationwide network on par with VZ and ATT.
  • Well said Jerry. Unlike your colleagues who want to make us think RCS ain't worth it unless Apple is involved or some other nonsense like we shouldn't even be using it already. Hell.. I already have like 25 contacts i message to regularly and that number can only grow.
  • Apple is at least 50% of the north American marketshare. So that is 50% of your friends that you will not be able to send a video at its regular size to. Actually it's going to be more than 50% of your friends because if your friends have an older Android handset that doesn’t have RCS capabilities that wont work neither. I think in the future that once every phone manufacturer and messaging app gets RCS capability then Apple will add in the functionality . I don't think they would want to be the one left behind. They certainly have no reason to rush though.
  • Carriers have one real function - to be a dumb pipe. Do it fast, do it everywhere, and get the hell out of the way.
    They gouge enough for what they do provide. We don't need them getting in the way of things we want and we don't need their "special features".
    The best feature that a carrier could give us is a better network at a better price and honest business practices.
  • @Jerry -- I do not seem to get the answer anywhere, maybe you know -- when are RCS features coming to the Google Voice (as in not Google Fi)?
  • I have Verizon, they can jump in a lake as far as I'm concerned. If this RCS thing ever options as a service for an extra charge, count me out, I could absolutely 100% care less, whatever is less than "care less" is me. I have no need or covet this option what-so-ever, in fact I still don't understand the what all the fuss is about. So you can't send high quality vids over text...oh perish the thought.
  • I am with you 100 percent. I'm tired of hearing people complain about how bad texting is without RCS. Wow, I can't see when a person is typing. Who cares? If you want high quality vids then share it through the cloud and don't text it.
  • Well RCS Chat is no longer an issue for me. My carrier "fixed the problem" according to a text they sent me. When I checked the Messages App, I went looking for the Chat Features to see what they had done...and now instead the orange lettered message "Trying to verify your phone number..." I was usually getting, now it says "Chat Features unavailable for this device." How lovely! I really love my carrier and it's support for me as a customer...😡😠🤬
  • I'm with you all the way on this one Jerry. CCMI is only to give them more ways to shake a tin cup in our face.
  • This is why I switched to iPhone. Sure, I can’t customize my device, but at least my iMessages are encrypted and I get all the cool RCS-like features without having to count on Google or the carriers.
  • > my iMessages are encrypted You properly colored iMessages are encrypted. The improperly colored are not.
  • I may be showing my age a bit but I remember what they use to charge just for plain sms. Hell I remember when sms was finally "free" they still charged you to send sms to another carrier. I think they early days of RCS is going to be the same. The money hungry carriers are going to find a way to monetize this.