Apple, Samsung eying electronic SIM standard

It is time to replace traditional SIM cards and make life easier for customers. The two largest handset makers of the world- Apple and Samsung are set to make this possible with embedded e-SIM cards to enable users to easily switch carriers and sign up for new data plans.

The tech giants are working relentlessly with some of the largest mobile carriers around the world to make this dream a reality. The plan includes global carriers like AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone. According to a report on Thursday by Financial Times, the GSMA which represents mobile operators will soon announce the electronic SIM standard for consumer devices including smartphones.  

The execution of the plan will take at least one year after the standards are finalized. Therefore the embedded e-SIM cards are not expected to be featured in the upcoming iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. Since the launch of multicarrier Apple SIM card in iPad Air 2 last year, the company has been planning to ship this year’s iPhones with the same. This SIM enables customers to sign up for mobile data plans from any participating carrier directly from the device’s Settings app. It is confirmed that the new e-SIM will not replace Apple SIM and even through it will take time to launch the electronic SIM, the iPhone 6S series to be launched this year will feature Apple SIM.

However, it is expected that the iPhone 7 to be introduced in 2016 may bear e-SIM if the standard is approved soon. Apple users can easily buy temporary, contract-free data plans while traveling internationally with the company signing a deal with GigSky to offer iPad data plans in more than 90 countries and territories.

With an e-SIM, users don’t need to replace the traditions cards to switch carriers or swap the card to another phone. This is an advantage over traditional SIM cards as they allow users to use only their network and charge them for another card or an activation fee. The changes to the account or carrier can be programmed remotely. The GSM Association said “Many of the interfaces and processes needed to make the remote provisioning of SIMs work are virtually identical to current SIM personalization processes and interfaces used by mobile operators today”.

The future will see customers using a password or software to access the networks enhancing security by allowing users to change passwords to ward-off outsider attacks. In addition to this, one can have a plan of more than one carrier and switch between whichever one is cheaper depending where they are at that particular time. Further, Dr. Markus Kuhn from the University of Cambridge envisions apps and software that will automatically determine the cheapest rate and connect users to that network. Nevertheless, the coming months will decide the future of this revolutionary plan.