eSIM - the future of SIM Cards and a game changer for consumers

Nov 8, 2017

Everyone of us is familiar with SIM cards, a small chip that we put into our phone to get cellular connectivity. These can be removed, letting us switch from one phone to another while retaining the same number. But quite a few times, it gets a little frustrating. Who wants to carry around a SIM ejector, literally? And just to ease that pain, The GSMA (or GSM Association), an organisation that represents the interests of telecom companies worldwide, is planning for Remote SIM Provisioning with the use of an embedded SIM (or eSIM).


What is an eSIM?

eSIM, also known as eUICC (embedded Universal Circuit Card), is the electronic SIM card that will replace the physical, plastic SIM card that we use in our phone. eSIM is the virtual embedded equivalent of the physical card and it cannot be removed. It will be rewritable by all telecom operators. This mean if you ever wish to switch the mobile operator, it will be updated over the air. This will also reduce the pain of visiting a physical store and then fiddling with a tiny piece of plastic.


Why eSIM?

As we’ve already seen, eSIM reduces a lot of physical harassment on the consumer. But the advantages of eSIM are not just limited to that. eSIM requires only a fraction of space that a physical nanoSIM requires. This space saved could also make for smaller gadgets. Though SIM cards don't take up all that much room in laptops and phones, the space gained is most significant in things like smartwatches and other wearables. This could make for slimmer smartwatches.



Limitations to eSIM:

The biggest issue with using eSIM in phones is that every time you change handsets you have to deal with letting your carrier know. Apart from that, while travelling, you may end up needing to reprogram your eSIM multiple times. And when you get back, you'd have to deal with having your primary carrier reprogram the eSIM. Also in some countries, the use of two SIM cards in one phone is a popular phenomenon. This use case isn’t addressed by the current eSIM specification. But as the market evolves, solutions will for surely evolve.


The future of eSIM:

eSIMs are currently more common in IoT devices, tablets and cars but are yet to find a way into smartphones. In smartphone sector, Apple and Samsung are leading the pack within the telecom industry. They have been talking to network providers to adopt eSIMs for their upcoming smartphones. About 20 telecom operators worldwide have hinted towards an interest to support this technology.


So, eSIM in smartphones might be a reality but there’s still some time to it. We might get rid of the physical SIM cards in the future but as of now, they are very much an integral part of our lives.

How do you like this concept of eSIM? Do you think it would make our lives easier? Let us know in the comment section below.

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