Transforming mobile, one eSIM at a time

Emir Aboulhosn of NetLync

The global wireless industry has experienced more transformation in the last 10 years than in the previous 50, says Emir Aboulhosn, CEO at NetLync. The challenges this last year has brought, in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, have sharpened this focus to an acute and imminent reality bringing on change even faster.

From 5G to the Internet of Things (IoT), and Private Networks, this change is particularly prevalent when thinking about the mobile industry at a macro-level. Since the beginning, it has been rooted in the physical domain; from bricks and mortar retail stores to plastic SIM cards. Going digital is still an enigma to many mobile operators large and small. However, with consumers now expectant of, digital, non-contact solutions, it is a necessity for the mobile industry to make this transformation a priority.

Pioneering mobile technology

Over the next couple of years, this surge in digital demand will mean the physical SIM card will no longer be the most popular way to connect devices to a cellular network. eSIM, its replacement, represents so much more than a simple phone upgrade. Deemed the ‘silent revolution’, eSIM, something practically unheard of five years ago, is one of today’s most pioneering technological advancements.

eSIM allows subscriptions to be downloaded straight onto mobile devices in a matter of seconds without the need for customers to visit a retail store or wait for their SIM card to be delivered in the post. It provides customers with easy access to their favourite mobile service providers anywhere in the world via a fully seamless mobile experience.

Particularly with COVID-19 and an increased demand for digital-first services, customers can sign up with a new mobile service provider from the comfort of their own home personalising and modifying their network connections in real-time and even holding multiple profiles on a single device. NetLync was born to elevate the digital customer journey for the wireless industry with solutions that increase revenue, reduce churn, and ultimately create happier customers.

Connected consumer devices on the rise

GSMA Intelligence estimates by 2025 there will be 2.4 billion eSIM connections worldwide in smartphones alone, equivalent to 33% of all those in use. It also noted that by the end of 2020, 175 MNOs and MVNOs covering 69 different markets offered eSIM as part of that service. At NetLync we believe it could be even sooner, after assessing its growth to date, its momentum among operators and as the world’s leading smartphone brands are already firmly behind the pioneering technology.

Back in 2016, Samsung launched the first eSIM watch device and ever since there has been a steady but consistent rise in the number of OEMs offering eSIM enabled consumer devices, from smartphones to tablets, laptops and even mountain bikes.

Additionally, the Apple iPhone is widely considered a premium device and therefore eSIM was only available at a higher price point. With the recent release of the iPhone SE and iPhone 12 Mini eSIM is now available to the mid-tier device bracket.

Notably, the Motorola Razr was one of the world’s first smartphone to rely solely on eSIM. The industry anticipates that other smartphone manufacturers will follow suit by introducing eSIM-only devices in the very near future. In fact the GSMA Intelligence report states that the transition to eSIM only phones will happen in the next 2-3 years.

Looking ahead

While it has undoubtedly made connecting traditional mobile devices much easier and quicker thanks to its very small form factor, eSIM is now also enabling new smaller and lighter consumer IoT categories introducing mobile connectivity into hardware devices where it was previously not feasible, including smart-watches and other wearables.

The leading IoT device manufacturers are adapting existing use-cases and developing new ones with eSIM at the centre, allowing this new generation of wearable tech to operate completely independently from any smartphone.

Thanks to eSIM technology, IoT OEMs could even become connectivity providers or MVNOs themselves. On top of selling devices, this would offer them the opportunity to white label or resell cellular connectivity to their customers through enticing tariffs generating an additional revenue stream and further enhancing subscriber relationships.

Looking ahead, eSIM technology is only set to gain greater momentum and evolve as more people and businesses recognise its ability to unshackle existing connectivity constraints.

As many handsets become eSIM-only, providers will have no choice but to either move to the latest SIM technology or not offer these devices, limiting consumer choice. Now, it’s up to mobile network operators not to lose ground by embracing change, positioning themselves as modern brands and giving customers a seamless digital experience.

The author is Emir Aboulhosn, CEO at NetLync .

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