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Vodafone is shutting off RCS messaging this week

Vodafone is pulling the plug on its own RCS implementation in the coming days, with an alert to customers going out now.

A message to some Vodafone customers this week tells customers that the carrier will be turning off its RCS implementation as of March 31, 2023. With the change, customers will no longer have RCS provided by Vodafone, with messages instead sent over SMS and MMS. Vodafone is adding MMS packages to affected customers’ accounts for 60 days to avoid additional charges.

Important information: From 31 March 2023, your Rich Communication Service (RCS) will no longer be provided by Vodafone. You’ll still be able to send messages, but these will be as SMS or MMS. We’ve added a MMS bundle to your account for 60 days – so you can continue sending MMS without any additional charges until you move over to the new RCS platform.

The discontinuation of Vodafone’s own RCS setup comes as a result of a new wide-reaching deal between Vodafone and Google which was announced in late February. The deal saw Vodafone adopting Google’s implementation of RCS, much like US carriers, along with increased marketing of Pixel devices.

On a support page, Vodafone breaks down how customers will be affected by the RCS shutdown, and the short version is that almost no one has to stop using RCS with this change.

For customers who already have Google Messages installed on their device and set as the default SMS app, RCS will be reactivated within 72 hours as a pop-up appears to activate and accept the terms and conditions of Google’s RCS implementation.

For customers with Samsung devices that are still using the Samsung Messages app (which could handle RCS via Vodaphone’s implementation), there are two paths. The first is to simply download Google Messages and set it as the default app. Otherwise, an update is “expected sometime after April 1” which will bring Google’s RCS to the Samsung Messages app. This would only be necessary if the user also owns an older Samsung smartwatch, which requires the Samsung Messages app to use certain functions on the watch.

For customers with devices launched prior to 2020, Vodafone says customers will simply need to download the Google Messages app from the Play Store.

The main loss here will be Huawei devices, which will no longer be able to use RCS at all if they run HarmonyOS, a fork of Android. That’s because those devices lack the Google Play Store and, in turn, cannot use Google Messages. 9To5Google

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