October 28, 2020

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WHAT YOU HAVE NOT BEEN TOLD ABOUT eSIM

3 min read

OVERVIEW

 

Since 2010, the GSMA had been discussing the possibilities of a software-based SIM card .

While Motorola noted that eUICC is geared at industrial devices, Apple “disagreed that there is any statement forbidding the use of an embedded UICC in a consumer product.”

A first version of the standard was published in March 2016, followed by a second version in November 2016.

In 2016, the Samsung Gear S2 smart watch was the first device to implement an eSIM.

In 2017, during Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm introduced a technical solution, with a live demonstration, within its Snapdragon hardware chip associated with related software (secured Java applications)

History

Since 2010, the GSMA had been discussing the possibilities of a software-based SIM card .

While Motorola noted that eUICC is geared at industrial devices, Apple “disagreed that there is any statement forbidding the use of an embedded UICC in a consumer product.”

A first version of the standard was published in March 2016, followed by a second version in November 2016.

In 2016, the Samsung Gear S2 smart watch was the first device to implement an eSIM.

In 2017, during Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm introduced a technical solution, with a live demonstration, within its Snapdragon hardware chip associated with related software (secured Java applications)

Implementations

The European Commission has selected in 2012 the embedded UICC format for its in-vehicle emergency call service known as eCall. All new car models in the EU must have one by 2018 to instantly connect the car to the emergency services in case of an accident.

Russia has a similar plan with the GLONASS (national satellite positioning system) called ERA-GLONASS.

Singapore is seeking public opinions on introducing eSIM as a new standard as more compatible devices enter the market.

Apple implemented eSIM support in its Apple Watch Series 3 and later in addition to every iPad they’ve released since the iPad Pro (2018). Apple also included eSIM support with the iPhone XS and later. eSIM support on iPhone requires iOS 12.1 or later. Apple has six worldwide service providers to offer eSIM service: GigSky, MTX Connect, Redtea Mobile, Soracom Mobile, Truphone, Ubigi.

Google unveiled the Pixel 2 in October 2017, which added eSIM support for use with its Google Fi service. In 2018 Google released the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and subsequently in May 2019 the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL with eSIM support for carriers other than Google Fi. Later that year in October, Google released the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL with eSIM support.

Motorola released the 2020 version of the Motorola Razr, a foldable smartphone that has no physical SIM slot as it only supports eSIM.

Plintron implemented the eSIM4Things Internet of things product, based on eSIM support for the devices and available in 28 countries.

Microsoft introduced eSIM to the Windows 10 operating system in 2018.

WHY eSIM MAY NOT WORK IN NIGERIA

Although the arrival of eSIMs on the continent was expected much earlier, it seems now is still a good time. According to a 2018  Statista report, smartphone ownership is increasing in sub-Saharan African countries, especially in South Africa (60%), Kenya (41%), and Nigeria (39%). Still, this is the first launch in West Africa.

 

It is not surprising that MTN is the telco pioneering this launch.

MTN has been credited for a number of firsts when it comes to mobile telephony and Internet penetration in Nigeria.

MTN entered the country in 2001 to become one of the first GSM networks to be licensed, and it is now unarguably the largest telco in the country. It is the trigger behind most caps and floors introduced by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for telcos because of its perceived market dominance.

Consequently, it is better positioned than other telcos in the Internet data wars.

Also recall that MTN is the only telecommunication company that has run 5G trials in three states in Nigeria, just as it did in Uganda. But in Africa, 5G is only commercially available in Lesotho and South Africa.

However, with the eSIM, it remains to be seen if more telcos would join in the coming months. Of course, this will be dependent on their capacity to comply with standardised architecture as specified by GSMA

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