Connectivity, AI, industry 4.0, immersive content, disruptive innovation, digital wellness, digital trust, and the future. These are the eight themes that will frame this year’s four-day Mobile World Congress, which opens in Barcelona on Monday. The BICS team will be returning to the event, and our stand in Hall 2 will be a showcase of solutions and services covering the full scope of the GSMA’s themes.
There’s another topic which we think will top the agenda at the show, and which we’ve been discussing for some time now: the eSIM. Funnily enough, the issue first came to the fore at MWC Americas in October last year, as Apple had just announced that its new iPhone would feature the embedded technology. Four months on, and it’ll be interesting to see what progress has been made during the European edition of the show next week.
What we can confidently predict though, is that the eSIM will feature in a great many more devices and that it’ll be crucial to the development and success of the IoT. We’ve already heard rumours that Google’s Pixel 4 smartphone will feature both a physical and eSIM when it launches in October, a move which reflects the growing momentum behind the technology. China Mobile, for instance, recently announced it will enable eSIM in Apple watches, demonstrating how its use extends far beyond just handsets.
In fact, it’s with (non-smartphone) connected devices that the eSIM opportunity really lies. The technology is set to introduce a number of benefits to players across the telecoms and IoT ecosystems:
- Without the need to obtain and insert a physical SIM card, device manufacturers can create smaller devices, at a lower price point, and launch these to market faster. They can also embed virtual SIMs for global connectivity.
- Consumers can easily manage multiple connected devices, adding and editing connectivity plans with ease.
- Multiple operator profiles can be stored on a single device simultaneously, allowing consumers to store and switch between them remotely.
- Operators can create bundled, multi-device subscription plans, unlocking new revenue opportunities.
- Logistics firms can track devices’ movement as they cross global borders, thanks to seamless roaming connectivity.
- Vertical sectors can more quickly and easily launch IoT propositions – such as remote monitoring in the medical industry.
eSIM is still in its early days, and cooperation between industry players is required to make the technology a success – and for its benefits to be realised. Many operators greeted Apple’s announcement with apprehension, believing the introduction of the eSIM would negatively impact revenues. Yet the same thing happened when the EU introduced Roam Like at Home – we heard negative reactions from some in the industry, yet now – for many consumers – low-cost roaming in Europe has become the norm, and roaming traffic volumes are higher than ever.
Since the Apple announcement, a growing list of operators have signalled their support of eSIM – not just in Europe, the US and Canada, but also operators in regions from Taiwan and Thailand, to Qatar and Kuwait. We think it’ll only be a matter of time before others get on board, and we expect to hear lots of eSIM-related chatter in the halls of the Fira next week.
We’re also excited to see the addition of an eSIM seminar to the MWC19 programme. During the session, senior figures representing operators and OEMs will explore the challenges in deploying eSIM and bringing devices to market.
Finally: from hearing about the possibilities of seamless connectivity, to realising the benefits: visitors to BICS stand at MWC will be able to learn how our suite of products and solutions support worldwide connectivity, and how we’re collaborating with players across the telecoms landscape to support a borderless, reliable, global IoT.
We hope to see you there!