For most of the 90s and early 2000s, people used mobile phones with SIM cards. SIM stands for subscriber identification module, and it authenticates subscribers on mobile devices like phones and computers. Today’s innovations and technological developments in telecommunications have given way to electronic SIM cards (i.e. embedded SIMs) or eSIMs.
Smartphone users can expect various advantages when they use eSIMs, the first being access to the latest models of mobile phones. Many companies ship devices with permanently installed SIM chips. Users can download, activate, and manage their mobile phone plans from the cloud, enabling easier use and better maintenance for the network operator.
When you have a new phone, you do not have to fumble with physical SIM cards anymore. If you travel frequently, you can use your eSIM to access a local network—access to local data services enables people to call, text, and use mobile apps without data roaming charges. There are many reasons why eSIMs are poised to become the standard in mobile communications. Today we take a closer look at each of these signs of an impending shift while citing three main indicators.
Apple Offers eSIM Support (since 2018)
All of Apple’s phones starting iPhone XS and XR support eSIM functionality. The iPad Pro 11”, iPad Pro 12.9” (3rd gen or later), iPad Air (3rd and 4th gen), iPad (7th or 8th gen), and iPad Mini (5th gen) also provide eSIM support. When Apple started integrating eSIM functionality, it encouraged other vendors to do the same—Samsung Galaxy phones and Huawei P40 phones are examples. Other examples of devices supporting electronic SIM technology are tablets and laptops devices by leading providers like Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, and Acer.
Other Devices Integrate It
Besides eSIM technology in smartphones, we also see the integration of eSIMs in smartwatches. Besides Samsung, Google, and Apple, Chinese and Japanese tech manufacturers and telecommunication providers are also developing devices with eSIM capabilities. In 2019, Japanese brand IIJ launched the country’s first eSIM service, and major Chinese carriers like China Telecom have eSIM support as well.
Smartphones and smartwatches are not the only devices with eSIM functionality. Manufacturers are starting to roll out tablets and notebooks with electronic SIM capabilities. These devices provide users with constant access to the internet, which is increasingly an expectation that millennial consumers and mobile employees have given the new norm of remote work.
There Is A Ready Global Standard
Today, there is a GSMA specification providing a global standard for RSP or remote SIM provisioning used by eSIMs. It means all of the providers in the mobile industry, from operators to device vendors, can implement frameworks that allow users to manage eSIMs. Even the digital activation options of eSIM (like QR codes or activation codes) are standardized by the GSMA with security and authentication mechanisms ensuring eSIM is as secure as SIM cards. And given eSIM cannot be physically swapped and cloned, it actually provides better security features to telecommunications’ consumers.
Electronic SIM technology has reached mass-market consumers earlier than expected. It is expected to change the way consumers receive and consume telecommunications. And given its flexible digital attributed that allow online distribution, eSIM will enable new level of wireless innovation and services especially as connected consumer devices continue to grow.
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