Telenor, has partnered with Google to roll out a next-gen SMS tech


Another mobile carrier, Telenor, has partnered with Google to roll out a next-gen SMS tech — this time targeting Android users in Europe and Asia.

The aim with the Rich Communications Services (aka RCS) technology in general is to bring an enhanced messaging experience for SMS users — enabling iMessage-style features such as group chats, read receipts and typing indicators, and high-res photo sharing.

The flavor of the tech Google is involved with integrates its own Messenger app into the native SMS app to bring upgraded native messaging features to newer Android handsets.

Late last year this flavor of RCS tech was rolled out to Android hardware using the Sprint and Rogers‘ networks, in the US and Canada — with Sprint being Google’s first carrier partner in the initiative.

Telenor’s coverage footprint includes countries such as India and Thailand, as well as multiple European nations, and it has some 214 million mobile subscribers in all — so it’s the biggest bump yet in potential reach for Google’s initiative.

That said, the company still has a very long way to go if it’s hoping to build comprehensive backing for its effort to upgrade Android users’ experience of SMS across the board.

Almost a year ago, Mountain View announced a joint effort with mobile carriers to push the next-gen SMS standard, with a plan to include an RCS-messaging client in Android.

Although it’s also been up to individual carriers to get on board and enable the tech for their networks, which underlines the scale of the fragmentation challenge for Google/Alphabet here, given how carriers do tend to prioritize their own competing commercial interests, rather than falling in step with Google’s. (Whereas Apple’s closed iOS ecosystem more easily sidesteps such issues.)