What is eSIM and which mobile devices work with virtual SIM cards.

By Dailyfinreport - October 30, 2020

 In the era of instant messengers, a smartphone without a SIM card is no longer perceived as a "brick": having connected to  Wi - Fi , you can talk to most of your friends from your contact list. But what if you completely abandon the physical "SIM"?


Everything will be fine: virtual SIM cards already exist. More precisely, the virtualization technology developed by the GSMA, an association representing the interests of over 800 mobile operators and 250 companies in the mobile ecosystem around the world. It was she who offered operators and mobile users an unusual compromise: to abandon physical SIM cards in favor of eSIM. Visit here for  remote pc monitoring software


eSIM (embedded) is a non-removable SIM card in the form of a 5x5 mm eUICC that is integrated into the mobile device. The work with eSIM is controlled by a trusted center represented by the GSMA, and the cellular operator is assigned the role of an intermediary between the association and the user.


How to become a subscriber of a mobile operator with  eSIM

Now a typical situation in our country looks like this: the operator issues and sells SIM-cards to future subscribers, who install them in their mobile devices. If the SIM card needs to be replaced or restored, the cellular operator is connected to the case again. It also regulates the set of services that the subscriber receives. This is partly why there are so many users with two or even three SIM cards. The services of one operator are not enough for them, because one has cheap calls in roaming, while the other has a lot of gigabytes of packet Internet.


With the advent of eSIM, everything changes. Imagine that there are no more physical SIM-cards, and slots for them too. Instead, small chips are integrated into mobile devices, to which one or more operators can be tied.


The rest of the eSIM works as standard, unless you can see, touch or replace it. But at any time it can be reprogrammed for the services of another operator. On one device, profiles of different operators are configured, between which you can then switch between a couple of clicks in the smartphone menu.


Since 2015, the eSIM specification has begun to be extended to consumer wearable devices. Very soon any of us can become the owner of such a device. But more on that later.


Advanced eSIM capabilities

We have already written about the most interesting feature - this is Remote Provisioning, or the technology of virtualization of SIM-cards. Thanks to it, the subscriber, instead of a physical SIM-card, can work with any number of virtual ones from different cellular operators.


ESIM was originally created for M2M (Machine to Machine) devices. That is, with the help of this board, devices could easily exchange information with each other directly, without intermediate technologies. M2M adds new features to familiar products and services. For example, with it, a gadget can be connected directly to a video surveillance system or to your own car.


The eSIM standard opens up new possibilities for managing mobile services and gives more freedom to mobile subscribers. It is easy to select a suitable operator and tariff plan from the standard menu. With the help of the universal activation code, as many numbers as the user needs are registered.


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Pros and cons of eSIM

The initiative, actively promoted by the GSMA, has many benefits for both operators and their subscribers.Users are no longer limited in choosing a cellular provider - they can connect exactly as many tariffs and services as needed.

You do not need to go to the office of a specific operator to conclude a contract or replace / restore a SIM-ku. This can be done faster, easier and, most importantly, remotely.

Mobile devices will get a little cheaper, as manufacturers will not have to build a construct into them to install traditional SIM-cards.

The dimensions of the eSIM board are smaller than the traditional SIM slot (even if the latter is in nanoSIM format), so gadget developers do not have to figure out how to find available space for other electronic components.

The operator will have one more item of savings: it will not have to produce starter packs, service existing and issue new SIM-cards. Plus, it can reduce rental costs, since offices will be needed several times less than now.

It will be easier to manage the services, since this will be done by the same cellular operators, and a single trusted center of the GSMA.

It is most profitable to switch to eSIM for those subscribers who use the services of two or more operators. Everyone who often travels abroad and does not want to overpay for communication in roaming will win. It will be enough for them to choose a suitable tariff in a conditional online store and connect their smartphone to it. It is easier and cheaper than looking for which operator in an unfamiliar country offers the best conditions for tourists and going to his office.


If eSIM had solid advantages, everyone would use this technology, at least developed countries, but so far this is not the case. The main problem of a virtual SIM is legal restrictions that strictly regulate the relationship between operators and subscribers. And operators themselves are not always interested in eSIM, because it simplifies the outflow of customers to competitors. In some countries - the USA, for example - most smartphones are sold at a “tasty” price, but in conjunction with a contract of a certain operator. In the meantime, eSIM is used in a little more than ten countries around the world, and in some - with significant restrictions.


iPhone XS  is the most famous smartphone with eSIM support

The Apple iPhone XS smartphones, announced in September 2018, are designed to work with two SIM cards. One of them is traditional - physical, and the second - just eSIM. The iPhone XS is not the only smartphone to support the new specification, but it is definitely still the most famous. The manufacturer has implemented a similar configuration in the iPhone XR and XS Max and Apple Watch 3/4. In each case, only one radio module is used, and this imposes certain restrictions - during a call, the second SIM card is not available, the same applies to working with the mobile Internet.


How are things with  eSIM in Russia ?

To become a subscriber of a cellular operator, in Russia you need to conclude a subscription agreement with the operator. The phone number turns out to be actually tied to a specific person. If you work with eSIM the way the GSMA offers, the usual legal order will have to be violated, because the subscriber will be able to stop using the operator's services and not even notify him about it.


What it looks like now: the subscriber must come to the operator's office with a passport and write a statement to terminate the contract. If someone does not have the opportunity to visit the office in person, he will have to draw up and certify a power of attorney in the name of another person. These rules make breaking up with the operator a real quest, and not fun at all.


In April 2019, one of the largest mobile operators in Russia began to connect its subscribers to eSIM. He offered a compromise option: transfer a personal physical SIM-card to a virtual one. If you want to have the same number on your smartphone and Apple Watch of the latest model, this is regarded as cloning a SIM card, which is prohibited by the laws of the Russian Federation. Therefore, after generating a virtual card, the physical one simply stopped working. To activate the virtual one, one of the few specialized offices of the operator still had to contact one of the few specialized offices of the operator, and since mid-May this service was completely disabled at the request of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications.


The ministry has already announced that in the future they intend to remove restrictions on the use of eSIM in Russia, but so far this issue is not on the agenda, respectively, it is too early to talk about the timing. But even if virtual cards are legalized, foreign companies will be obliged to store and process eSIM data on servers on the territory of the Russian Federation, as prescribed by the federal law "On Personal Data", known as 152-FZ.

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