Apple, Samsung & carriers working together on 'e-SIM' standard for mobile data plans

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2015
The two largest handset makers in the world --?Apple and Samsung -- are said to be working with some of the largest carriers around the globe on a new, so-called "e-SIM" standard that would replace traditional SIM cards, and make it easier for customers to sign up for new data plans.




It's expected that the GSMA, which represents carriers worldwide, will soon announce an embedded SIM standard, the Financial Times reported on Thursday. In addition to Apple and Samsung, major carriers like AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone are said to be a part of the plans.

Even after the standard is finalized, it will take some time -- at least a year --?before products with embedded "e-SIM" card begin to ship to consumers. That means an embedded SIM won't be in this year's anticipated "iPhone 6s" or "iPhone 6s Plus."

AppleInsider's own sources indicated earlier this year that Apple was strongly considering shipping this year's iPhone upgrade with its own Apple SIM card. The Apple SIM was introduced in the iPad Air 2 last year, and allows consumers to sign up for mobile data plans from any participating carrier directly from the device's Settings app.

Thursday's report said the new "e-SIM" standard is not expected to replace the Apple SIM. The Financial Times also reaffirmed that the Apple SIM could ship in the "iPhone 6s" series.

If the "e-SIM" standard is approved soon, it's possible that the new, more consumer-friendly option could debut in a presumed 2016 "iPhone 7" upgrade.

Apple, meanwhile, has been expanding the availability and support for its Apple SIM, recently inking a deal with GigSky to offer iPad data plans in more than 90 countries and territories. With an Apple SIM and GigSky account, users can easily buy temporary, contract-free data plans while traveling internationally.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,171member
    IMHO Apple joining in now is primarily to protect their own interests in this (as some of the other companies are doing) as the standard is developed. I remember reading about a standards setting group for eSIMS several months ago and there were a number of companies involved. The group was initially put together back in September of 2014. I had posted this previously:
    "
    There’s actually quite a few companies involved besides Samsung and the recently added Apple and include hardware providers Sony, LG and Huawei. There’s also big telcos such as AT&T, China Unicom and Telefónica, along with smaller players like Mexico’s América Móvil, the middle-east’s Ooredoo, security company Gemalto, Germany’s financial security provider Giesecke & Devrient, France’s electronic security provider Morpho and many others."

    EDIT: The working group is under the GSMA umbrella and called the Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning initiative. The original press release was the first week of [S]March[/S] February.
    http://saladeprensa.telefonica.com/jsp/base.jsp?contenido=/jsp/notasdeprensa/notadetalle.jsp&id=0&origen=portada&idm=eng&pais=1&elem=21254
  • Reply 2 of 35
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,034member

    how will this work with pre-paid SIM/service especially when you travel?

  • Reply 3 of 35
    adrayvenadrayven Posts: 460member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    IMHO Apple joining in now is primarily to protect their own interests in this (as some of the other companies are doing) as the standard is developed. I remember reading about a standards setting group for eSIMS several months ago and there were a number of companies involved. I had posted this previously:



    There’s actually quite a few companies involved besides Samsung and the recently added Apple and include hardware providers Sony, LG and Huawei. There’s also big telcos such as AT&T, China Unicom and Telefónica, along with smaller players like Mexico’s América Móvil, the middle-east’s Ooredoo, security company Gemalto, Germany’s financial security provider Giesecke & Devrient, France’s electronic security provider Morpho and many others.



    EDIT: The working group is under the GSMA umbrella and called the Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning initiative. The original press release was the first week of March.



    Hardly...

     

    Apple has pushed for this type of built in SIM for YEARS.. back with the 3G and 3GS Apple wanted to go universal. The Apple SIM was a shot over the bow to carriers that were not on board..

     

    Will be interesting to see what Verizon does.. I think Sprint will be quick to hop on board, but Verizon has a history (and them reason it failed last time along with ATT giving pushback) of resisting this...

     

    I think T-Mobile is part of the reason they might consider it though.. T-Mobile has drastically changed the landscape from how we even purchased phones 4-6 years ago. Competition is heating up.. which is good for us as consumers.

  • Reply 4 of 35
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,171member
    adrayven wrote: »

    Hardly...

    Apple has pushed for this type of built in SIM for YEARS.. back with the 3G and 3GS Apple wanted to go universal. The Apple SIM was a shot over the bow to carriers that were not on board..
    :???:
    I'm not saying Apple didn't already have an interest in eSIMS. Quite the opposite as I'm guessing Apple is joining the standards-setting group now to protect those interests.

    Why do you think Apple has decided to join the group if not for that reason?

    EDIT: Perhaps Apple hasn't actually decided to join the initiative, instead only committing to use it and not necessarily instead of their own solution either? This is a bit confusing:

    The GSMA said it was “continuing to work with Apple to secure their support for the initiative. While we are optimistic, a formal agreement with them is still in progress.”
    Apple declined to comment.
  • Reply 5 of 35
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post

     

    how will this work with pre-paid SIM/service especially when you travel?




    I imagine you will just stop by a phone store in the host country and they will reprogram your phone. When you return you can do the same thing with your home carrier, although it is likely you would be able to reprogram your own phone at home by yourself without going to the carrier store.

     

    The main issue is carrier lock. That will likely be something that will remain built in, although currently on Verizon phones the sim slot, I've heard, is unlocked.

  • Reply 6 of 35
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member
    adrayven wrote: »

    Hardly...

    Apple has pushed for this type of built in SIM for YEARS.. back with the 3G and 3GS Apple wanted to go universal. The Apple SIM was a shot over the bow to carriers that were not on board..

    Will be interesting to see what Verizon does.. I think Sprint will be quick to hop on board, but Verizon has a history (and them reason it failed last time along with ATT giving pushback) of resisting this...

    I think T-Mobile is part of the reason they might consider it though.. T-Mobile has drastically changed the landscape from how we even purchased phones 4-6 years ago. Competition is heating up.. which is good for us as consumers.

    Remember Gatorguy has to put an Apple demeaning spin on on anything that mentions Google or its crappy iOS copy so Samsung is included.
  • Reply 7 of 35

    One Sim to rule them all, One Sim to find them,

    One Sim to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...

     

    <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 8 of 35
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,815member
    SIM cards are the copy protected 5.25" floppy disk of the mobile platform world. Cave man artifacts. There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to turn ON the equivalent capability of a SIM using the same model used for Apple iTunes gift cards, ie, with an activation code entered manually or through the camera. Better yet also allow the use of NFC and Apple Pay and place kiosks in airports and train stations as well as online. You should also be able to have multiple e-SIMs that automatically enable and disable based on geolocation for people who traverse borders. It's amazing how we've allowed such primitive technology that can't handle the most basic of features to exist this long, like a vestigial organ that is just hanging around long after its usefulness has expired.
  • Reply 9 of 35
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    I'm going to wait to hold judgment, as long as I can switch providers without a fuss I'll be fine, the second that manufactures stop selling unlocked version though, I'm out
  • Reply 10 of 35
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Relic View Post



    I'm going to wait to hold judgment but I have this sneaky suspicion that manufactures who use these new E-Sims won't sell an unlocked or programmable version. 

    That is an overly pessimistic view. I would think unlocked phones will remain an option. Carrier lock is just for subsidy. For example in the States, AT&T will unlock your iPhone once your contract is complete. I've done that multiple times as I need a local phone when I travel. International roaming charges are outrageous.

  • Reply 11 of 35
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    adrayven wrote: »

    Hardly...
    The Apple SIM was a shot over the bow to carriers that were not on board..

    Not really so much here in Europe, there still aren't many phones that uses Apple's Sim card, except for well Apple and BlackBerry and mobile providers charge extra for the smaller sim, who knows why. I actually never understood the Apple sim, it didn't really improve anything and it's not much smaller than the micro sim. I would have liked to seen Nokias design put into play as it included not only extra storage space, 32gb, 64gb but also included smart card technology for encryption. Same stuff I'm using now on my Passport but instead of it being on the sim it's on the SD-Card. It's great as a second tier security measure.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    mstone wrote: »
    That is an overly pessimistic view. I would think unlocked phones will remain an option. Carrier lock is just for subsidy. For example in the States, AT&T will unlock your iPhone once your contract is complete. I've done that multiple times as I need a local phone when I travel. International roaming charges are outrageous.

    It is, but I honestly don't trust these companies individually, when their in a pack it's even more scary.
  • Reply 13 of 35
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    jamesnay wrote: »
    One Sim to rule them all, One Sim to find them,
    One Sim to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...

    :lol:


    That's what I'm fearing.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,427member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    IMHO Apple joining in now is primarily to protect their own interests in this (as some of the other companies are doing) as the standard is developed. I remember reading about a standards setting group for eSIMS several months ago and there were a number of companies involved. The group was initially put together back in September of 2014. I had posted this previously:

    "

    There’s actually quite a few companies involved besides Samsung and the recently added Apple and include hardware providers Sony, LG and Huawei. There’s also big telcos such as AT&T, China Unicom and Telefónica, along with smaller players like Mexico’s América Móvil, the middle-east’s Ooredoo, security company Gemalto, Germany’s financial security provider Giesecke & Devrient, France’s electronic security provider Morpho and many others."



    EDIT: The working group is under the GSMA umbrella and called the Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning initiative. The original press release was the first week of March February.

    http://saladeprensa.telefonica.com/jsp/base.jsp?contenido=/jsp/notasdeprensa/notadetalle.jsp&id=0&origen=portada&idm=eng&pais=1&elem=21254

    I agree with others that this was an early interest of Apple. Apple and Samsung being the drivers in the industry will have a great deal of influence, similar to Apple's in the development of USB type C connectors, which obsoletes the European micro USB connector standard very nicely.

     

    All the participants are "protecting" their interests, but Apple and Samsung on the hardware side are the major players. Arguably, both are happy with the current duopoly in hardware.

  • Reply 15 of 35
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,427member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Relic View Post





    Not really so much here in Europe, there still aren't many phones that uses Apple's Sim card, except for well Apple and BlackBerry and mobile providers charge extra for the smaller sim, who knows why. I actually never understood the Apple sim, it didn't really improve anything and it's not much smaller than the micro sim. I would have liked to seen Nokias design put into play as it included not only extra storage space, 32gb, 64gb but also included smart card technology for encryption. Same stuff I'm using now on my Passport but instead of it being on the sim it's on the SD-Card. It's great as a second tier security measure.

    Passport, as do most of the other top smartphones, uses nano SIM, and there is a trend to remove micro SD and SD slots, likely following Apple's, which leads to higher ASP's from upgrades in memory. That's beneficial to both Carriers and builders, and frankly, with the cost of memory dropping and base memory amounts increasing, the necessity for these microSD and SD slots has passed.

     

    It did effectively reduce the space requirements, and it didn't add anything was wasn't germane to the standard. Nokia lost because it was attempting to have the SIM card do too much, and Apple won by adapting the micro SIM so that it would only have to be trimmed to use in the Nano SIM tray.

     

    My own opinion is that a SIM slot is a bad choice for removable media; SIM reliability is probably best if accessed infrequently.

  • Reply 16 of 35
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 487member
    "Participating carriers" is the key. The beauty of the current system is that the consumer has full freedom to switch phones or carriers. Contrast this to the CDMA SIM-less system where you are at the carrier's mercy. Oh, you didn't buy a "Verizon" iPhone? Sorry, we won't activate you. So I'm a bit nervous about any system that might limit our abilities as customers.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Surprised Apple hasn't axed this tech already.

    Sim trays and cards look outdated and awkward in iPhone's design.
  • Reply 18 of 35
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,469member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Relic View Post





    Not really so much here in Europe, there still aren't many phones that uses Apple's Sim card, except for well Apple and BlackBerry and mobile providers charge extra for the smaller sim, who knows why. I actually never understood the Apple sim, it didn't really improve anything and it's not much smaller than the micro sim. I would have liked to seen Nokias design put into play as it included not only extra storage space, 32gb, 64gb but also included smart card technology for encryption. Same stuff I'm using now on my Passport but instead of it being on the sim it's on the SD-Card. It's great as a second tier security measure.



    The nano SIM form factor is not the "Apple SIM". The "Apple SIM" is a programmable SIM card that Apple ships in some iPads, as I understand it, and which you can use to sign up for service from multiple participating carriers.

  • Reply 19 of 35
    anomeanome Posts: 1,463member
    mstone wrote: »

    I imagine you will just stop by a phone store in the host country and they will reprogram your phone. When you return you can do the same thing with your home carrier, although it is likely you would be able to reprogram your own phone at home by yourself without going to the carrier store.

    The main issue is carrier lock. That will likely be something that will remain built in, although currently on Verizon phones the sim slot, I've heard, is unlocked.
    mstone wrote: »
    That is an overly pessimistic view. I would think unlocked phones will remain an option. Carrier lock is just for subsidy. For example in the States, AT&T will unlock your iPhone once your contract is complete. I've done that multiple times as I need a local phone when I travel. International roaming charges are outrageous.
    Unlocked phones are increasingly the standard here in Australia. After all, it doesn't really matter if your phone sim-locked to a carrier or not if you still have to pay out your contract and/or handset payments if you want to change carriers. Even if it is locked, most carriers will unlock it for free, and you can do it from the web. (Especially since the unlock for an iPhone has to ultimately come from Apple via their update system.) I expect switching to a local carrier will work similarly. (I use a traveller SIM service, which is cheaper than roaming, but still a bit pricy, and as a result when my passport was stolen in Paris, I lost my home SIMs, which was annoying - although not as stressful as losing my passport.)
    cali wrote: »
    Surprised Apple hasn't axed this tech already.

    Sim trays and cards look outdated and awkward in iPhone's design.
    Apple would like to, hence their work on eSIMs and the Apple SIM, but the carriers still insist on using SIM cards for their networks. What will get the carriers to change will be when someone presents to them a finished solution that will save them money, and requires little or no work on their part.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    isidoreisidore Posts: 56member
    What none of you have considered is the advantages of a portable sim rather than a portable contract. What if you want to use the same contract in different devices? For example a ruggedised or cheap phone for a robust or wet activity when you don't want the risk of destroying an expensive iphone. Also, a portable sim allows you to replace a broken phone while keeping your existing connectivity, even when in a distant country. It will also be a long time before an esim would /could replace the convenience of using different contracts in different countries by swopping sims. Ultimately this is about which cartel you distrust most, the device makers or the connectivity providers. Can't say I'm worried abt carrier lock, have never ever bought a locked device since mobile phones had sims.
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