The future speaks eSIM

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After a total of 25 years on the market, SIM cards are about to disappear altogether from our sights. Because the traditional plastic SIM card that has been such a staple in smartphones and tablets are about to be replaced by the concept of the embedded SIM (or eSIM for short). What this means is that the card will in future be embedded permanently into its device. It contains information on the user's profile in the net and can be programmed from outside.

This new solution is set to provide some very practical benefits for the user. Is there anyone left nowadays who has never had to fumble about for a paper clip to help them open the SIM card socket? Or borrowed a nail scissors to cut the micro SIM down to nano format? These fiddly tasks are about to become a thing of the past, thanks to the eSIM.

But that's not the only advantage: the eSIM's capacities are also impressive, making it the next logical step in the ongoing digitalization process of the entire world. The introduction of the eSIM is set to spur on the process of connecting machines and of developing the Internet of Things. As we move into the future, ever more devices are going to have access to the Internet. Thus, according to projections, every one of us will have up to ten connected devices in our possession by the year 2020. Smartphones, laptops, automobiles, fitness armbands, computer watches, etc., etc. etc. will all be online. So it makes sense for all these devices to be easy to activate, manage, and handle. And that is what the eSIM makes possible.

It's child's play to register new devices on a particular account. Just scan in the ID code of your new tablet and it's instantly activated and networked with the devices and products that you have already connected up. With eSim, you will also be able to manage more devices on a single contract than before. This is very convenient for customers. One way we can score points with our customers is by offering simple, attractive solutions. Another is by providing a high-quality network. The topic of network quality is set to become much more important as a result of the advent of the eSIM, as it will allow customers to compare networks against each other directly. And we have no reason to fear such comparisons.

But if we want to make the eSIM a success, we cannot afford to concentrate exclusively on our own corner of the world. Achieving a worldwide open standard is an essential part of the process. The sector needs a shared interoperable solution. It has no use for proprietary solutions. Deutsche Telekom sees the permanently embedded SIM card as a substantial opportunity and has been heavily involved for many years in international committees dedicated to developing an open eSIM standard. We do not believe in closed ecosystems. Network operators, device manufacturers and SIM card producers are all working under the shared roof of the GSMA on a single standard, which is expected to be announced in 2016. This standard is intended to set the technical requirements for the eSIM and to draw up the rules by which the eSIM system will manage profiles.

That the eSIM is on its way is no longer in question. However, we're convinced that the new eSIM standard will be launched on the market as early as 2016 and that it will really begin to take off from 2017 on. While the first solutions will probably be developed for use in tablets, wearable devices are also on the starting blocks. It's simply too difficult to use conventional SIM cards in such devices and in clothing. So what could be simpler than using an eSIM, which can be directly integrated into such items? Initially, we are likely to see hybrid solutions that combine the features of the eSIM and plastic cards. But in our view, the conventional plastic SIM card will have disappeared within ten years. This will also be a welcome environmental side effect... so, all in all, it's easy to see why the future speaks eSIM.

First steps towards eSIM: With the iPad Pro 9,7“ you already can try it. Next to the technical feature for a common SIM card, the iPad Pro 9,7“  has also an integrated, not removable Apple SIM. As the only supplier Deutsche Telekom enables the usage of this integrated Apple SIM. If you use internet just occasionally, the iPad Pro 9,7“  allows to book data flatrates directly – a good alternative for everyone who bought his device without a contract.