My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: GSMA's e-SIM Card - Why e-SIM marks World Phone Genesis and Death of unlocked-smartphones

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

GSMA's e-SIM Card - Why e-SIM marks World Phone Genesis and Death of unlocked-smartphones

“With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalize the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices,
with delivery anticipated for 2016,”

GSMA spokesperson commenting on the GSMA plan to introduce e-SIM to GSM Telecom Providers

The Telecoms world is abuzz with a new idea that, surprising is really a rehash of an old but very good idea. In fact, I was taught this at C&W Old Training School when I worked there from 2001 to 2004.

I'm of course referring to the idea from the GSMA (Global Systems Mobile Association) of programmable SIM (Subscriber Identification Modules), called e-SIM as reported in the article “Embedded SIM Cards will let you switch carriers on the fly and carriers are supporting it in droves”, published July 16, 2015 by Williams Pelegrin, Digitaltrends

The idea is that instead of subscribers to a Telecom Network having to swap out SIM Cards in their smartphones, they could instead be reprogrammed by the Telecom Provider. A customer who wants to switch carriers would then have to come to the Telecom Provider or do it in discomfort of their own home.

The e-SIM could allow customers to change their Network via a text message to their Telecom Provider, instead of unlocking their smartphone and then purchasing a new SIM Card.

This is similar to the idea I'd suggested with regards to the Netherlands and their use of Carrier unlocked SIM Cards as detailed in my blog article entitled “The Netherlands makes Carrier Unlocked SIM Cards Legal - Apple's Idea revived heralding M2M and the Internet of Things, a financial Boon to Telecom Providers”.

The beautiful advantage of this is that it would make life a lot more convenient for the customer, would no longer have to fiddle with a SIM Card to switch Networks. But this so far looks like a customer-only benefit, which isn't typical of the GSMA, the trade body representing Telecom Providers globally who use the GSM standard!

Why are they so happy about it? Well, they'll benefit and so too will Telecom Equiptment Providers.

GSMA's e-SIM Card - Slimmer smartphones to choose your Network of Choice  

Telecom Equiptment providers would benefit hugely, as they'd no longer have to make carrier-specific versions of each model of cellphone. They could just make one with an e-SIM that would be able to work with any GSM Carrier, such as those listed below:

1.      AT&T
2.      Deutsche Telekom owners of T-Mobile
3.      Etisalat
4.      Hutchison Whampoa owners of Three
5.      Orange
6.      Telefónica owners of O2
7.      Vodafone

Also the Telecom Equiptment providers could make even thinner Smartphone and Tablets, as the SIM slot would no longer be needed.

Apple had pioneered the nano-SIM in the Apple iPhone 5 back in 2012 for this very purpose as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to make you own Micro-SIM or Nano-SIM Card”.

Thus e-SIM would not only eliminate the SIM Card slot, but make it possible to cram more sensors in the space normally reserved for this archaic relic.


It would also make it easier to get customers on a Data Plan for their Tablets with any Telecom Provider they choose from the comfort of their own home. Tablets are a product that they don't purchase with each product refresh, being as it’s more computer than smartphone!

Thus a programmable e-SIM would actually help sagging Tablet sales in a plan very similar to the Apple SIM that Apple introduced for some Apple iPad Air 2 and the Apple iPad Mini 3 in 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “Apple SIM in the Apple iPad Air 2 - How iOS 8.0 Carrier Unlocked SIM sells Apple iPads in Year of the Sheep 2015”.

Samsung and Apple – Eliminating the SIM would bring customer in

So upon reading this, you know Samsung is also interested!

Even their latest smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, features a nano-SIM as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Samsung Galaxy S6 and Edge at MWC 2015 coming to Mash up Jamaica”.

They too, wouldn't mind eliminating the SIM card altogether.

This GSMA idea is thus attractive not only to Apple and Samsung, but potentially every smartphone maker seeking to cram more features into their smartphones. All in a bid to compel customers to buy or upgrade to a new smartphone.


This is especially important as the smartphone market is slowing down as reported in the article “Smartphones aren't selling like they used to (it's an Android thing)”, published July 7,  2015 by Nigel Manuel, CNET News, as there is nothing compelling or new about Smartphone to make customer purchase them.

Ditto too tablets, which have been in a freefall since the Fourth Quarter of 2014.

Making Tablets with keyboard cases and Carrier-unlocked SIM are potential saviors as suggested in my blog article entitled “IDC Stats suggest Tablet Freefall in 2015 – How to sell Tablets using built-in Keyboards and Carrier Unlocked SIM Cards” and e-SIM, which is the same thing, presents itself as one possible solution to their demise at the hands of cheaper “White Label” Chinese Tablets!

Telecom Providers Rejoice - e-SIM marks birth of World Phone and Death of unlocked-smartphones

The big advantage, however, would rest with the Telecom Provider, as e-SIMs, potentially, are both bringers of life and death.

With e-SIM's they'd have more control over the portability process. In other words, they could dictate who could switch from which Network, based on customer history on their Telecom Network, as opposed to Prepaid or pay-as-you-go customer’s switching Networks as they had a mind. 

Currently, customers can demand to purchase a smartphone unlocked as noted in my blog article entitled “US Carriers must Carrier Unlock smartphones as of Wednesday February 11th 2015 – How Americans can get their smartphones Carrier unlocked”.

In the future, unlocked Smartphone and Tablet users would have to purchase a Data Plan, as they'd have an e-SIM built in.

By making every SIM an e-SIM, they'd potentially be able to regain control over unlocked phones. When these e-SIM are phased in, it would be difficult to buy a smartphone or any feature phone without having to sign some contract.

Potentially too, these e-SIM could be programmable to work on CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) Carriers and Telecom Providers once the GSMA and CDMA Trade groups get to talkin'.

This would mean once you’ve purchased an unlocked quad-band smartphone, it would have a built in CDMA chip as well as an e-SIM chip. This is a World Phone, something I've dreamed about since my days working at C&W (2001 to 2004) and then later at CLARO Jamaica (2008 to 2009)

The customer could potentially travel to any country in the world and use their Smartphone on ANY Network, be it a GSM or a CDMA. Right now at this preliminary stage and it's apparent that the GSMA's e-SIM would mostly give control back to the Telecom Providers. However, we may also be genesis birth of the World Phone!

No date as to when this will come to pass. But it if does, a lot of smartphone, feature phones and cellphones would start popping up with the e-SIM logo (just guessing here!) to indicate the coming paradigm shift!

As of this moment people, anything is possible!



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