Forget switching SIM cards; ‘SIMless’ phones are almost a thing now

by | Nov 18, 2015

Ever heard of a virtual SIM? well, I have. And the pioneers of this new technology are non other than the usual suspects or should I say unusual suspects this time around, Apple and Samsung, given the fact that the first thing that comes to mind when talking about SIMs are mobile operators.

What is a virtual SIM?

According to Wikipedia : A virtual SIM is a mobile phone number provided by a mobile network operator that
does not require a SIM card to connect phone calls to a user’s mobile phone.

At the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Simless, Inc., a US-based startup unveiled world’s first GSM phone without a SIM card slot. The reference phone was capable of downloading multiple virtual SIM
cards over-the-air.

The idea behind the virtual SIMs which are also known as embedded SIM cards (“e-SIM”) is that the SIMs are built into the phone and not user accessible. Users will be allowed to choose any network of choice on the embedded  SIM and would also be allowed to switch at any time.

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Though,  both Apple and Samsung have been in talks with carrier operators to bring this to reality,  Apple seems to already be ahead as the Apple SIM has already been put to use in the US and UK where it partnered with AT&T, EE, Sprint, and T Mobile to operate. And just recently the  Apple SIM was launched in Japan on a much wider scale thanks to its partnership with Giksky, a company which offers international data coverage.

How long. before we start seeing the use of the virtual SIMs down here in Africa and on Android phones?  I guess not long, as we already know – mobile technology doesn’t take time to spread,  and one of the companies that will begin the trend here may be Samsung  as the company is also having similar discussions with carrier operators, and considering the kind of market they have here.

Will mobile operators loose out on this new technology?

Don’t think so, except in the aspect of SIM sales – which is relatively free nowadays.

However, one sure advantage of the virtual SIM is definitely flexibility as consumers will have the
ability to switch carriers without getting a new card. Which means swapping SIMs to switch network operators will no longer be of concern, everything would be done via an interface on the device.

e-SIM will likely roll out in 2016.

Imanah Oluseyi
Imanah Oluseyi

Tech writer.

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