The new iPhones announced in 2018 finally support dual-SIM connectivity but you’ll have to rely on the eSIM technology to use two mobile numbers on the same device. This will be similar to the Apple LTE version, which was launched earlier in the country.
This unique version of the Apple comes with a built-in Embedded Subscriber Identity Module or eSIM which syncs with your mobile SIM and works independently. With the launch of the iPhone XS and XS Max, a lot of people are intrigued to know more about the eSIM.
After speaking to industry experts, here’s how eSIMs go beyond just mobile handsets and why they will soon become an integral part of the digital world.
What’s an eSIM?
The eSIM is going to be a technology standard in the telecom sector, which has been promoted globally by GSMA, a body that represents network providers. The technology was conceived by the folks at Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security, first used as a machine-to-machine (m2m) connected car app for German automaker, BMW in 2012.
This variant of the SIM has been designed to work with devices like the Apple , and even this year’s iPhone XS and XS Max. The eSIMs are likely to be help the industry design devices that are even more compact, yet ensuring they do not consume too much battery power.
Apple . Deval Sheth, Managing Director, Giesecke+Devrient Mobile SecurityWith various features getting added, place to slot the SIM is being rejigged for eSIM. you don’t want the person to buy the watch and then SIM as well.
The eSIM comes in the form of a chip that is embedded within a device. When used on a wearable such as the Apple , it will be easy for a user to clone his or her data network from a mobile phone to this device via a mobile operator.
It is imperative that telecom operators need to have latest technology to support activating the eSIM remotely and it’s not a costly affair for them.
Telcos like Airtel and Reliance Jio will software-optimise eSIMs without charging anything extra for the service.
How Does it Work?
The telecom industry believes that a wholesale switch to eSIMs might be a costly affair, but operators in the US and Europe are keen to move in this direction.
Convenience will play a big factor if you have an eSIM as you don’t have to replace one SIM card with another when switching operators. It is too early to tell if things in India will work seamlessly, but telecom regulators are certainly pushing for it.
According to Deval, the eSIM is embedded inside the chipset which are there. “From the menu, the user can customize his/her carrier and activate the plan and start using the device.” he added.
Google Pixel 2 is the first phone to offer eSIM support.
DoT orderAn eSIM will be installed in the device and details of service providers can be updated in it at the time a customer buys a new connection or changes operators or wants to buy a standalone service from a telecom operator like data or calling etc.Deval Sheth, Managing Director, Giesecke+Devrient Mobile SecurityThe biggest change that eSIM will offer is network operability. You can switch between telcos without going through extensive paperwork
With Aadhaar eKYC now scrapped by the Supreme Court in India, eSIM could offer the quick-access alternative, without going through tedious paperwork process.
This feature will come in handy for people who frequently travel abroad, making use of the flexibility that is available from telcos over there. Phones like the Google Pixel 2 and many devices already offer support for eSIM, which only needs to be activated from the network side.
Asked about why Apple launched iPhone XS in China with traditional SIM slots, Deval highlighted that China doesn’t follow the GSMA spec, keeping them from using eSIM-supported devices.
eSIM – Connectivity for the Future?
It’s not just phones and smartwatches where eSIMs will be prevalent in the coming years. Manufacturers have already devised ways to offer them on Internet of Things (IoT) devices, connected cars (yes, even them) and your regular home appliances.
Deval Sheth, Managing Director, Giesecke+Devrient Mobile SecurityOver the next five years, over 30 to 40 percent smartphones across the globe will come with eSIM support. Close to 40 percent devices will not have physical SIM slots. For India, the figure will be close to 25 percent, where you still have a feature phone market
It’s not merely going to work on mobile and cars, but it’s use-case can go as as far as being a storage unit for biometric ID.
Qualcomm, which is known for making processors for phones, has come out with a unique solution that allows eSIMs to be embedded in PCs as well. Unlike mobile devices, eSIMs on PCs make a lot of sense, as users can be connected to the internet without using a SIM or external dongle all the time.
Connected cars are set to get a big boost in the coming years.
For vehicles, eSIMs will be the gateway for mobile devices, to remotely monitor its health, something which we have seen with cars from Tesla recently. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is doing its best for the industry to follow this path.
Tesla Model SDoT orderInstructions have been issued for SIMs that will be used for machine-to-machine communications like alerts sent from car to mobile over low fuel, faulty parts, car theft, remote surveillance of premises, smart meters etc.
With the demand for smart devices set to grow and internet access becoming cheaper, expect eSIMs to become the go-to standard for gadget manufacturers as well as telcos in the coming years.