By now, most of us have already heard of the term eSIM; it relates to a new standard being promoted by the GSMA. eSIM is an integrated SIM chip that cannot and need not be removed from a device - something that consumer electronics manufacturers are also keen to adopt for connected items around the house as part of IoT (Internet of Things), and that has already been used by some car manufacturers too.
MNOs will inevitably all have to engage with and move to Consumer eSIM.
A new study conducted by ROCCO, has shown the ability of Operators to adopt this new trend. The study showed that 80% of the surveyed operators have acknowledged eSIMs, and that it poses a threat for the standard SIM card. However, most of them are not yet willing to adopt it, while a 20% of Operators have expressed their will to invest in eSIM projects and will eventually bring it to market.
Rocco study also states that: “MNOs will inevitably all have to engage with and move to Consumer eSIM. In a matter of 3-5 years it’s unlikely that devices with SIM Cards will be common in the market. There’s clearly several reasons why eSIM makes sense in a domestic setting and the fact that consumer engagement online is so strong, leads us to understand that eSIM brings a very natural step for MNOs in online sales channels and stores which suggest if you don’t want to, you never need to leave your busy life to queue up in an MNOs retail establishment to get your new SIM card.”
That was the original premise of the eSIM, but one of the advantages as well is that it offers from a design point of view, a smaller device because there's no need to accommodate a SIM card or the tray that holds it, hence the use in devices like the Apple Watch 3. September 2017 has seen the release of the first eSIM smartphone, released by no other than Google with the Google Pixel 2 becoming the first smartphone to include e-Sim when connected to the search giant’s MVNO, Project Fi in the US.
According to ROCCO’s study, “While tablets and wearables such as the iPad Pro and Apple Watch have emerged, as let’s say experiments by Apple to enter into this space, it is unlikely that we will get an eSIM compatible iPhone before 2019. This is not because Apple is not ready, but it’s more that the industry and specifically MNOs are holding off and not prepared with the operational architecture to support the introduction of an iPhone with eSIM.”
Rocco estimates that eSIM devices will grow by 1200 Million by the year 2022 stating that the GSMA has also worked on a standard reference architecture and is working closely with MNOs and handset manufacturers to enhance these standards.
We're still at least a few months away from seeing the benefits of eSIM and the resulting carrier flexibility. But given the support from big brands, it's clear we'll see much more of this feature soon. Plus, who knows? In a few more years, we could even say goodbye to normal SIM cards!