Apple and Samsung are apparently looking to embed e-SIM cards into their smartphones to enable users to easily switch carriers and sign up for new data plans. The two companies are working with large carriers around the world to accomplish this goal, with carriers like AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Vodafone jumping on board and with the GSMA likely to announce the e-SIM standard soon, according to the Financial Times.
With an e-SIM, users don’t need to replace the traditions cards to switch carriers or swap the card to another phone, and are instead able to use virtually any carrier they want with the same SIM card. The GSM Association said “Many of the interfaces and processes needed to make the remote provisioning of SIMs work are virtually identical to current SIM personalization processes and interfaces used by mobile operators today”.
The impact on customers (and travel SIM card providers) won’t be immediate; execution of the plan will take at least one year after the standards are finalized, which means the next iPhone, Galaxy Android phone, and ATIV Windows Phones will still be using the old SIM standard.
That doesn’t mean some changes won’t be taking place, however. Since the launch of Apple’s multicarrier SIM card in iPad Air 2 last year, the Cupertino-based company has been planning to ship this year’s iPhones with the same tech, with the e-SIM replacing the Apple SIM in iPhones beyond this year’s model or models. As it stands now, Apple users can easily buy temporary, contract-free data plans while traveling internationally with the company signing a deal with GigSky to offer iPad data plans in more than 90 countries and territories.
This isn’t the first time the industry has looked at embedded SIM cards as a stepping stone of the future. Embedded SIM cards in vehicles are also a big discussion point, with the tech expected to be employed in many vehicles by the next decade.
The technology could also see support from various apps to supplement not only account changes but also security measures in order to keep accounts more secure and make changes even easier for customers to make.