Apple in 'Advanced Talks' With Mobile Telecom Groups for Standardized 'e-SIM' Cards

gsma_logoApple and Samsung are in talks with mobile standards organization GSMA to introduce electronic SIM cards, according to Financial Times. The talks are happening around the GSMA's impending announcement of the creation of a standardized embedded SIM card for consumer devices, which would involve both Apple and Samsung if the talks go through.

Rumors of Apple creating its own SIM card line began in late 2010, when a report from Gigaom claimed the company was working with digital security firm Gemalto to create the custom built-in SIM. The iPhone 4s was even rumored to be "SIM-less," pointing once again to an electronic SIM card pre-built into the device to save space, and inaccessible to the user.

The e-SIM would essentially allow customers to avoid being locked in to a dedicated mobile carrier, letting them sign up to their network of choice and even switch instantly if they changed their minds.

With today's news, the networks expected to be on board with the new e-SIM standard include: AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica, and Vodafone. GSMA's chief executive, Anne Bouverot, claims all parties are "heading towards an agreement" regarding the standardized e-SIM card. But, as the Financial Times points out, thanks to the technical specifications of the e-SIM, it will be "at least a year" before any devices supporting the new card reach the market.

The GSMA said: “With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalise the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016.”

“We have got everyone back on one point, with Apple and Samsung agreeing to be part of that specification,” said Ms Bouverot. “We have been working with them and others to create an industry solution for machines and will agree a solution for consumer electronics.”

The deal with Apple is yet to be finalized, however, with the GSMA noting it is "continuing to work with Apple to secure their support for the initiative" and an actual agreement with Apple "is still in progress."

Last year, Apple took its first steps toward opening up carrier access on some of its devices, introducing an Apple SIM card for cellular versions of both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, allowing users -- particularly in the United States -- to switch easily between AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, taking advantage of each carrier's short-term data plans as they saw fit. EE in the UK was also included in the Apple SIM program, and just weeks ago a partnership with GigSky expanded Apple SIM service to over 90 countries.

The e-SIM standard has been under consideration for several years, but many carriers have resisted the concept over concerns it will be too easy for customers to switch. Even with Apple's physical Apple SIM card, AT&T moved to locking cards to the carrier's service. The company gave no reason why it decided to prevent the Apple SIM from functioning properly beyond "it's just simply the way we've chosen to do it." With only a handful of carriers currently on board and a 2016 launch date for the new e-SIM cards, it remains to be seen how quickly they will be able to gain momentum in the industry.

Tag: e-SIM

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
apple watch series 9 display

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 10 to Get Larger Screen and Thinner Design

Monday June 17, 2024 1:20 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner and come in larger screen sizes than previous models, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his latest industry note -10-and-98075c44ce92">shared on Medium, Kuo said the screen size options on the next-generation Apple Watch will increase from 41mm to 45mm, and from 45mm to 49mm, while being encased in a thinner design. For reference,...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
Apple Pay Later feature 1

Apple Discontinuing Apple Pay Later

Monday June 17, 2024 11:44 am PDT by
Apple is discontinuing Apple Pay Later, the buy now, pay later feature that it just launched last October. Apple Pay Later is being discontinued as of today, but people who have existing Apple Pay Later loans will be able to continue to pay them off and manage them through the Wallet app. Apple announced plans to end the feature in a statement provided to 9to5Mac, which also notes that...
iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
iPod Nano vs iPod Pro Ad Feature 1

Apple Developing Thinner MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone

Monday June 17, 2024 2:22 am PDT by
Apple intends to slim down the MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone, with the new ultra-thin M4 iPad Pro a sign of the company's new design trajectory, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. When the M4 iPad Pro was unveiled last month, Apple touted it as the company's thinnest product ever, and even compared it to the 2012 iPod nano to emphasize its slim dimensions. Writing in the latest ...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...

Top Rated Comments

gpat Avatar
117 months ago
People defending this have no idea what they're getting into. There is no beating the convenience of a physical SIM card in free markets like the European one. Don't hate the SIM cards only because US carriers are *******s. Electronic SIM cards are going to make switching carrier or device harder and less user-friendly, not easier.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kcamfork Avatar
117 months ago
People defending this have no idea what they're getting into. There is no beating the convenience of a physical SIM card in free markets like the European one. Don't hate the SIM cards only because US carriers are *******s. Electronic SIM cards are going to make switching carrier or device harder and less user-friendly, not easier.
If it were as easy as entering the SIM card e-number into your new phone, that would be pretty easy, in my opinion.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kcamfork Avatar
117 months ago
A logical next step. It's pretty crappy that AT&T locks the Apple SIM. What a terrible company.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
manu chao Avatar
117 months ago

... to introduce electronic SIM cards
Didn't know the current SIMs were mechanical.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PowerBook-G5 Avatar
117 months ago
My question is, how would you switch your SIM "card" to a different phone when you get a new device or just need to switch phones?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Fenez Avatar
117 months ago
Why would you need to?
What if you own more than one device and like to use them intermittently?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)