RW Direction on RCS Chat

I know that RW’s official stance is that RCS Chat is not supported by RW and should be disabled on our phones. Just wondering if anybody from RW could tell us if RCS support is actively being worked on? Not asking for a timeline, since my long history with RW tells me that they don’t like to make that type of statement or commitment, but would just like to know if it is being or will be worked on.

And yes, I know that problems potentially exist and I am doing this at my own risk, but for what it’s worth, I have been using RCS Chat on my wife’s phone and on mine (both GSM) since it was released by Google and so far absolutely no issues. But I am hopeful that at some point in the not too distant future I can do so in a supported manner.

Hi @fisher99,

There’s nothing for us to support or work on. RCS is an over-the-top, third party messaging function that just happens to be built into a standard texting app.

We do not officially support it because, like other third-party apps, it does not use our service. If it stops working, there would be nothing we could do to fix it, because it’s not a service we provide.

RCS uses data, like Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, Google Voice, etc. The data it consumes is not “messaging” (SMS or MMS) and so is not included in your unlimited Talk and Text. The data it consumes comes out of your purchased data. Images and videos are not compressed to the same degree as they are for MMS, so if you are sending a large number of images or videos, you may see quite a hit to your purchased data.

When moving from one phone to another, you need to disable RCS on the phone you are leaving behind, or your messages will continue to be delivered to it. Google offers instructions to do so, both when the old phone is still available and when it’s not, here: https://messages.google.com/disable-chat

We’re seeing various situations, particularly when changing phones, moving SIM cards between phones, or on a phone provisioned with a CDMA SIM card, where RCS does not correctly send from the Republic Wireless number. While we may be able to help you walk through steps to clear up this oddness, it is not anything we can resolve through programming and development, because RCS is not using our messaging infrastructure.

When we say that we do not support RCS and we advise members to disable it, we’re not saying that you’re going rogue or violating our terms and conditions by using it. We’re saying only that if you use it and have issues, our Help Team and engineers would not be able to expend resources to resolve the issues for you.

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Hi @southpaw. As usual, a very well worded and informative response. And I might suggest much better than the one that simply says to turn RCS off. Much better to give the user the pros/cons and let them make an educated choice.

I was already aware of the the need to deactivate/reactivate RCS when changing phones (similar to the iMessage requirement for Apple users) and have already gone through one uneventful phone swap with another coming next week (for my wife).

As for data usage, in the few months that my wife and I have been using RCS (communicating with other non-RW users who also use RCS) we have not noticed any significant impact upon our 1GB data plans. Of course all caveats apply. While we do text a few pics each month, the bulk of our texting is plain text. And we have really come to like the ability to see if a message was delivered or read and to see the “bubbles” if someone is typing a reply. But I can easily see that if someone texts a large amount of pictures or is already bumping the top of their data limits that RCS could push them into another data plan (or make them re-evaluate using RCS). But again, that’s a “buyer beware” educational thing and not a “turn it off” thing. We all make decisions as to how we want to use our phones and the potential impact that those decisions may have upon our data needs. RCS is simply one of many apps that have data usage considerations (FB, Instagram, etc) and the decision whether to use the app or not needs to be made by the user, not by the cell service provider.

Your comments about SIM card swaps and some potential caveats regarding the CDMA service are very enlightening and excellent information for those considering RCS usage. My wife’s phone has always been on your GSM provider while mine was always on CDMA until a trip overseas last fall made me switch to GSM. My full intent was to switch back to CDMA when I returned but mostly through forgetfulness (and maybe laziness) that never happened. In hindsight I guess that was fortuitous.

In any case, thanks again for your typical extremely helpful response. I do think that the RW community would be much better served with this (your above statement) being posted as RW’s official statement on RCS, rather than the directive to simply remove it.

Thanks again. You are much appreciated!

Thanks for your kind words, @fisher99,

I’ve edited a couple of Help Center articles that included the phrase “at this time” since that does lead one to believe we might be working on some sort of support for the feature.

I’ve also edited Does Republic Wireless Support RCS Chat Features in Messages by Google? – Republic Help to add an additional note pointing to this topic for more details.

Is that the article you were refering to? I noticed it does explain some of the issues we’ve seen (wrong number, texts going to an old phone), and I’m concerned I might have overlooked an article that simply declares it must be disabled, with no context as to why.

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Hi @southpaw. The post I was referring to was one by one of your ambassadors (who I respect, by the way) saying that “RCS isn’t supported by RW… and it should be turned off”, and then pointing to an RW link showing how to turn it off.

I still see two areas of concern. I may be getting into semantics a bit here, but in the post that you linked, the post that the other ambassador linked, and in statements made by other ambassadors, the following is clearly stated: “At this time RW does not support the RCS Chat features in Messages by Google”. In reality, I think that the first two paragraphs of your original reply are much more correct and provide much clearer information to the user. It’s not that RW doesn’t support RCS Chat. It’s simply that there is nothing for RW to support. It might seem like a small thing, but the current statements certainly seem (at lest to me) to indicate that RW has made a decision not to support RCS Chat, leaving open many questions as to “why” and “When might they”. Your statement is much clearer and removes that ambiguity. Maybe just changing that to say “RW does not recommend the use of RCS Chat” rather than “does not support” would be more correct, but then that leads to my second concern…

My second concern is that these statements all appear to be strongly biased towards telling users not to use RCS Chat. As I said in my earlier post, my family is finding RCS Chat to be a significant and very welcome improvement to Android texting, making it a bit more like Apple’s iMessage. We would simply not want to go back to the more basic texting. Are there things that one should consider and understand before activating RCS Chat? Certainly. But I think that RW could better serve the community by clearly stating these considerations rather than simply recommending turning it off. I’m sure that from a user support viewpoint that simply telling people not to use RCS Chat is an easier approach, but I’m not convinced that it best serves the user base.

RCS Chat is not going away. Potential issues with CDMA will go away as CDMA goes away, but things like deregistering to swap phones may always be required (it’s still required on Apple’s iMessage system after all these years). Rather than simply telling users not to use it, why not help users understand how to use it if they choose to do so, what pitfalls they might encounter, and how to deal with them if they do? RCS Chat is a significant improvement to the texting experience and one that most people will love once they try it.

In any case, thank you again for your response. I have no intention of beating any “dead horses”, so unless I can provide any further clarity on my post, thank you for taking time to listen to my ramblings…

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My primary concern isn’t the issue with CDMA, but the fact that RCS requires data. Republic continues to have large numbers of customers that have no data plans, or that freeze data until needed, both of which would prevent RCS from working correctly when away from wifi. And while RCS is supposed to fall back to SMS in these cases, my personal testing is that it really doesn’t work that well in many cases.

People just expect “texting” to work, and when RCS is on in Messages most users don’t differentiate between sending an SMS vs RCS message, despite them working differently. This leads to support inquiries regarding messages not sending, needed explanation about RCS and how its not covered under “unlimited talk & text”, and overall just support costs and potential dissatisfaction.

So, while your interpretation of the situation is correct, I do think Republic has valid reasons to advise turning it off.

@louisdi: Focusing on your statement that your primary concern is the fact that RCS requires data: Those who choose to purchase RW plans without data already know that this imposes limitations when they are not connected to WiFi. They know that they can’t use Facebook, Instagram, their weather app, or even their web browser, because those apps require data. I am not aware of any official RW postings warning users without data plans of those apps and advising them not to use them. To single out RCS Chat with an official recommendation not to use it because it uses data seems a bit discriminatory. A posted explanation of the potential issues that were pointed out by @southpaw seems in order (as a helpful support document), but not a flat recommendation not to use.

Just my opinion, of course, possibly influenced by my experience with RCS Chat being maybe better than what you have experienced. We have been running 3 phones (2 on RW, 1 on Verizon) with RCS Chat since it was released. All 3 of us text fairly heavily with not only each other but with many standard SMS text users. So far we have had zero issues with texts between RCS and non RCS users. Maybe we are just lucky, but none of us would want to go back to standard SMS texting.

Except that it is not because all the other things you cited require a 3rd party app and are well understood by users to require data. I can tell you, as one of Republic’s Experts that answers user tickets, 99% of users have no idea what RCS is, all they know is that they’re trying to send a message in the Messages App, and it isn’t working.

Sounds great, until you realize that users don’t read support documents. I would say that 75% of the inquiries I see have well documented, easy to find answers.

Here’s the thing, the only people that are going to come searching for Republic’s recommendation/help on RCS are those that are having problems. The vast majority of these are on Republic’s CDMA partner where RCS doesn’t work correctly and the solution for them is indeed not to use RCS. For those where it works perfectly, they’ll never even see this recommendation because they’ll never go looking for it.

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You say that “99% of users have no idea what RCS is, all they know is that they’re trying to send a message in the Messages App and it isn’t working”. Since RCS isn’t turned on by default and requires the user to do so, I would suspect that the number of users who fall into this category is fairly small. If they manually turned it on, they probably have at least some slight clue, so would then be likely to search out answers if things stop working after activating RCS. And yes, they are more likely to seek support by posting a question on the forum rather than searching for a support document, but that’s ok too.

I do understand user support. I spent most of my professional career managing IT support and Help Desk crews. It is often tempting to take a conservative stance that reduces the potential load on support staff, but in my experience that is not always the best way to serve the user.

In any case, I think that we have come to that proverbial “agree to disagree” point. We are not likely to win each other over, and that’s ok. Thanks for your comments.

Sort of. You get a pop-up that says something like “Google’s making messaging better” and then an OK button. So, I would argue 99% of users have no idea what they’re agreeing to (and I can tell you the Republic ticket flow confirms this completely).

I’ve found RCS delivers the messages faster and more reliably than Republic does.

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