We deal with eSIM (+ interview with an expert)

7 min


Let’s talk about eSIM (full title embeddedSIM – i.e, built-in SIM) – soldered into the gadget (as opposed to the usual removable “SIM cards”) SIM-cards. Let’s see how they are better than ordinary SIM cards and why mobile operators oppose the introduction of new technology.

EDISON Software - web-development

This article was written with the support of EDISON.

we developing programs for Android and iOS, and we can also undertake the preparation of a detailed terms of reference for mobile application development.

We love mobile communications! 😉

If a regular SIM card can be removed from the phone and replaced with another, then eSIM itself is a built-in chip, it cannot be physically removed. On the other hand, eSIM is not rigidly tied to a specific operator; you can always reprogram it to another provider.

ESIM benefits over conventional SIM cards

  • Less problems with losing your smartphone.

    If you lost or stolen your smartphone, you can quickly and efficiently block the device, while quickly activating your lost mobile number using eSIM on another phone.

  • More space for another filling.

    eSIM requires much less space than slots for regular SIM cards. This allows you to embed eSIM in devices in which there is not enough space for regular SIM cards – for example, in a smart watch.

  • One SIM card for the whole world.

    Now it is not necessary to buy a SIM card of a local operator upon arrival in another country. eSIM simply switches to another operator.
    True, there is China that does not recognize eSIM technology. In this country you will have to call in the old fashioned way, and soon the Celestial Empire will launch its Chinese isolated eSIM.

  • One number for multiple gadgets.

    You can simultaneously connect your tablet, your second tablet, a smart watch, a smart car, and your other “very smart” devices to the same number (if you have one). If only the device itself supported the technology.

FAQ for eSIM

  • What is embedded UICC (eUICC)?

    The original name of the technology. Stands for integrated universal integrated circuit board (eUICC from English embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card) The term eSIM is a synonym, it appeared a bit later.

  • Can any gadget be connected to eSIM?

    No, only those devices of new generations that support the technology. If the tablet is more than three years old – eSIM is definitely not there.

  • Is it possible to rearrange an eSIM card from one device to another?

    Physically – no, the card is tightly integrated into the gadget. Virtually – yes, you can configure the same phone number on different gadgets (supporting eSIM).

  • eSIM and regular SIM compatible on one device?

    Of course! All tablets that support eSim also have at least one slot for traditional SIM. In fact, these are devices that have the advantage of supporting two SIM cards at once (while eSIM takes up much less space).

  • Take two! Can I use more than one eSIM on one device?

    The latest iPhones allow you to use several eSIM, but so far only in turn, not simultaneously.

Some events in the history of eSIM


November 2010GSMA (a trade organization representing the interests of mobile operators around the world and setting industry standards) discusses the capabilities of a programmable SIM card.


May 2012 – The European Commission has chosen the Embedded UICC format for its emergency emergency call service, known as eCall.


September 2017 – Apple has implemented eSIM support in its devices Apple Watch Third Series and Second Generation iPad Pro.


October 2017 – Release Microsoft Surface Pro fifth generation, which also supports eSIM.


October 2017 – Google introduced Pixel 2, which added eSIM support for use with the Google Fi service.


February 2019 – Presented Samsung Galaxy Fold (released in September). The LTE model supports eSIM.


December 2019 – International virtual operator MTX Connect becomes Apple’s global eSIM partner.

Interview with Ilya Balashov

Ilya Balashov – Co-founder of MTX Connect virtual mobile operator

Is eSIM an evolution or a revolution?

Evolution, which was very delayed in time, which no one expected and does not expect on the market.

The classic plastic SIM card of the decade personified the connection between the operator and the subscriber. And the operators are more than happy with the situation.

Will regular removable SIM cards become a relic in the medium term? Will eSIM replace them?

No, they won’t! The ecosystem is controlled by operators and they are less than any other participants (such as vendors of telephones / devices, end users / subscribers, regulators, etc.) are interested in eSIM becoming very widespread.

Right now, only one handset manufacturer makes and sells devices with eSIM through all its sales channels as the main product for the mass consumer – and this is Apple!

All other devices (Microsoft c Surface Table, Google with Pixel, Samsung c Fold) are niche products that are either not sold through operators at all, or the sales volume is very small.

Apple is the only company on the market that has not only its own vision of the product, but also sufficient market power to tell operators: “If you do not like phones with eSIM, you can not sell them!”

In order for plastic SIM cards to cease to occupy more than 90% of the market, you need not only support from other phone manufacturers.

All vendors (except Apple) in their sales channels are very dependent on operators who say to all vendors, “We will not sell phones with eSIM for the mass market.”

Despite the fact that Russia (and almost the entire CIS) is an independent distribution market, operators in these regions have a great influence on it.

How much is “esimization” in the world faster than in Russia? Are we far behind?

No mobile operator in the world is interested in promoting eSIM, no matter what he publicly talks about.

Moreover, providers of eSIM platforms say that operators’ plans for the number of eSIM activations differ dozens of times from actual use!

According to various estimates, less than 5% of iPhones with eSIM support have downloaded at least one eSIM at least once in their lifetime.

Russia is lagging behind in the fact that so far even government agencies cannot decide how to relate to this phenomenon (eSIM)! And this means that no one can take any further steps.

In the countries of the Middle East, India and Asia, quite strict eSIM regulation rules were introduced for operators, but they were understandable from the first day and operators could decide whether they want to follow them or not.

And in China, for example, they are passing tests of their own eSIM ecosystem, which, although it will be similar to the one that exists all over the world, nevertheless, it will be completely isolated from it. We think that in 2020-21, Chinese smartphones with support for the Chinese version of eSIM will enter Russia via AliExpress and that buyers will be disappointed with this technology due to complete incompatibility.

What new challenges are expected in the near future?

Perhaps soon there will be an additional market segmentation between companies that are counting on long-term relationships with their subscribers and various eSIM sellers, which in fact are competitors for points selling SIM cards at airports.

In the case of SIM, the subscriber returns to the mobile operator again and again. Operators are not interested in selling eSIM to a client once and forget about it.

And a situation is very possible that exists on the market selling disposable SIM cards for tourists (on Ebay, TaoBao, AliExpress) – when they sell 4GB (and sometimes 1GB) under the guise of a 10GB package, first at full speed, and then like that they do, without warning, reduce to 128 kbps. And the credibility of the idea among ordinary people will fall!

What will happen after eSIM?

Since we are at the very beginning of the development of the eSIM ecosystem, I think that in the next 5-7 years, eSIM will develop, both from a technical and organizational point of view.

And to talk about what will happen next is 100% fortune telling or fantasies on a given topic.

References

Apple’s Global eSIM Partner Becomes Russian-Related Company

Using two SIM cards, one of which is eSIM

eSIM: how it works

eSIM

Service for comparing eSIM operators in different countries

EDISON Software - web-development

EDISON has a fruitful experience working with MTX Connect.

We prepared the terms of reference and created mobile applications for a virtual mobile operator.

The MTX Connect server-side API was developed, which significantly extends the capabilities of user functionality.


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