Next Generation Messaging Available For Telstra Users

Next generation messaging available for Telstra users

Next generation messaging available for Telstra users

Telstra has become the first telco in Australia to support the latest messaging standard on select Android phones. RCS or Rich Communication Services is the evolution of Short Messaging Service, mashing SMS and MMS with more features like message delivery notifications, file sharing, group chats, video and audio clip sharing, and voicemails delivered as sound and text files. The new RCS messaging features will be available only to Telstra pre-paid and post-paid customers using the Samsung Galaxy 7, 7 Edge, S8 and S8 Plus phone devices.

What is Telstra messaging?

Telstra Messaging represents an evolution of SMS and MMS by makes messages more powerful and flexible with a single integrated inbox. It is a real-time messaging service built in Telstra’s network using Rich Communication Services (RCS), an internationally recognised standard for carrier messaging. RCS was first released as a standard five years ago, but a global, universal profile did not arrive until 2016.Vodafone’s European subsidiaries released the RCS-based ‘Joyn’ service in 2012, and Google announced support for RCS last year in Android. As the service requires support at both the network and handset/operating system level, it has been slow to take off. Over-the-top messaging apps on smartphones have also hindered its growth.

RCS and Telstra Messaging is not supported by Apple’s iOS devices, which use the company’s proprietary Messages app. However, Telstra believes that this could change soon, with RCS being integrated directly into handsets, tablets and computing devices in the future. While only a few Android devices are currently supported, Telstra intends to roll out the service to other handsets in the coming months.

What features does Telstra Messaging Support?

In today’s world of fast-paced communication and collaboration, a humble text message is no longer enough. Users want to swap photos, files, location information, audio files and more along with the text they send. That is why RCS and Telstra Messaging support:

  • A single inbox for SMS, MMS & RCS data message types. Telstra messages will be colour coded green while regular SMS will be colour coded yellow so users know what to expect.
  • Voicemail delivered as an audio file with speech to text attached if you are a Telstra Voice2Text or Message2text customer.
  • Voicemail delivered as an audio file if you’re a MessageBank customer.
  • Sending of any file type including pictures, videos, documents & voice messages (up to 19MB).
  • Creating Group conversations with other Telstra Messaging customers.
  • Sharing your location information with other Telstra Messaging customers.
  • Exchanging chat messages or files when you are connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
  • Message status information for when your RCS chat messages and files or SMS messages have been delivered.
  • Message status information for when another Telstra Messaging contact is online, last active or typing a message to you.
  • Storage of undelivered RCS File Transfers, which are forwarded when you’re back online.
  • Conversion of Undelivered RCS chat messages into SMS.

How does Telstra Messaging work with other carriers?

Currently Telstra messaging is NOT available for:

  • Other telco customers like Vodafone, Optus etc.
  • Telstra users on iOS phones.
  • Telstra users on Android phones other than the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S8.

Your Telstra message will be delivered as a regular SMS/MMS to these non-compatible carriers and devices. It will be received as RCS only when their carrier and device support the RCS format. Telstra Messaging users will be highlighted on your contact list, so you know whom to send a particular message to.

How much does Telstra Messaging cost?

There are no subscription or activation charges for Telstra Messaging. Data usage charges apply to use the service in accordance with your mobile plan. An average chat message of around 3-5 lines of text uses a very small amount of data (approximately 2 kB). When sharing other media such as images and videos, the amount of data you use depends on the individual size of the file you want to send, a maximum file size of 19MB can be supported as part of a file transfer. You can also send Telstra Messages over wi-fi or wireless – such charges will not be included in your Telstra bill. Your Telstra Message data usage will not show up as a separate category on your bill.

There are no SMS/MMS charges for Telstra Messaging when sending messages to someone who also has Telstra Messaging. Standard usage rates apply for SMS/MMS sending when sending messages to someone without Telstra Messaging.

How is Telstra Messaging activated?

For devices that support Telstra Messaging, activation is triggered automatically when the SIM is inserted into the device. Compatible devices must have the latest version of Android and must have been purchased from Telstra.  Telstra Messaging Native support means that Rich Communication functionality is built into the operating system of the device.  You will notice your enhanced messaging capability whenever you are communicating with another Telstra Messaging enabled devices. For Samsung RCS native devices this is shown by the colour of the message you send to your contacts within a message thread.

The service is very flexible because it lets you activate and deactivate it at any time. You can block the use of Telstra Messaging by disabling Rich Communications in your device’s settings under ‘Messages’. You can also manually override Telstra Messaging (RCS) message sending on a per contact basis if you prefer to send messages via SMS/MMS.

What happens when I am offline or on roaming?

If you’re sent Telstra Message chat message while you’re offline, it will be delivered to you via SMS. If you’re sent a file when you’re offline, it will be stored by the network and delivered to you when you are back online. Similarly, files that you send will be stored on the network and forwarded to your contacts when they are back online.

Telstra Messaging supports International Roaming for SMS, MMS & mobile data. Telstra Messaging data messages will use cellular data according to your plan’s roaming inclusions or data use rates. SMS/MMS messages you send will also be charged according to your plan’s roaming inclusions. It will be best to check your roaming plan or turn Telstra Messaging off when on roaming to avoid bill shock after travel. You can always use free wi-fi hotspots to send Telstra Messages and save on data roaming charges.


it is Telstra’s aim that as other domestic carriers launch RCS, Telstra will interwork with their services in the same way as SMS & MMS.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.