Vodafone is turning off RCS messaging

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

A message to some Vodafone customers this week tells customers that the carrier will be shutting down its RCS implementation by March 31, 2023. With the change, customers will no longer receive RCS from Vodafone, but messages will be sent via SMS and MMS instead. Vodafone is adding MMS packages to affected customer accounts for 60 days to avoid additional charges.

Important information: As of March 31, 2023, your Rich Communication Service (RCS) will no longer be provided by Vodafone. You can still send messages, but they will be sent as SMS or MMS. We’ve added a 60-day MMS bundle to your account – so you can continue to send MMS at no extra cost until you switch to the new RCS platform.

The discontinuation of Vodafone’s own RCS setup comes as a result of a new wide-ranging deal between Vodafone and Google that was announced at the end of February. The deal saw Vodafone adopt Google’s RCS implementation, similar to 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 with this change almost nobody has to stop using RCS.

For customers who already have Google Messages installed on their device and set as their default SMS app, RCS will be reactivated within 72 hours when a popup appears to activate and accept the RCS implementation terms of service from Google.

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

According to Vodafone, customers with pre-2020 devices 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 these devices lack the Google Play Store and, in turn, they can’t use Google Messages.

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