With the EU Roaming Regulation arriving this summer, comes the challenge for European subscribers of remembering which of the 48 countries in the European territory are part of the EU where they can roam like at home and which countries are going to cost them extra.
Roaming billing has pretty much always been a mystery to most subscribers but maybe in the future, with or without regulation there might be a solution that removes the need to check the roaming rates in any country, or the need to even take a roaming plan. UROS – Uni-fi Roaming Solutions has in recent years become known globally for solving the Roaming Bill Shock problem but there is a new and highly disruptive solution emerging that will challenge the concept of roaming altogether and take away some of the bill shock complexity as we know it today.
It’s the future of the physical SIM card; it’s electronic and embedded into the mobile device, as well as entirely reprogrammable and will also provide a stand-alone connectivity to IoT devices. The word ‘eSIM’ is used in various contexts within the industry. Sometimes it is referring to non-standard solutions, which allow switching IMSI, the SIM cards unique identity number. At times it is referring to the eSIM remote provisioning solution standardised by the GSMA.
So what is the GSMA doing to standardise eSIM? Mika Alamartimo, Program Manager at UROS explains “Currently the GSMA standardised solution is used in Internet of Things or M2M (machine to machine) applications. For example, the car industry is one of the most popular use cases of eSIM today. Other IoT devices are also increasingly using eSIM.”
eSIM implications for the typical consumer
The eSIM provides more flexibility to the consumer, allowing an easier transition from one network to another without having to insert any other physical SIM cards into the device. Both types of SIM cards will coexist in the industry for some time, but eventually, the distribution of the physical cards will decrease, leading to fewer hiccups and less waiting time when transferring your mobile number from one MNO to another.
The MNO profile will be directly downloaded onto the device through an online service and consequently activated to initiate the subscription with the new MNO. This part, however, is ridden with mysteries, as there isn’t yet a concrete idea of how the connection between the consumer and the MNO will be established – it’s a privacy matter that could be tweaked and abused beyond measure. “GSMA remote provisioning standard v4 is the consumer standard which is currently under definition. The standard is currently used to solve end-user challenges including initial provisioning of a device, profile update during device lifetime and profile update based on device location,” says Mika.
As the use of eSIMs becomes more popular, players in the current ecosystem such as MNOs as well as SIM card and device manufacturers may rise to cause a disruption in the industry value chain. In other words, the wide adoption of the new eSIM will change not only the core of the industry, but also other adjoining aspects like marketing and sales, customer touchpoints, logistics, loyalty, contracts and prepaid markets among others.
The eSIM eliminates the need for a customer to go to a store that damages the potential of face-to-face influences in their final decision-making – it’s a tricky area as the MNO could eventually lose direct contact with the customer. Adding secondary devices or offering data plans that englobe other devices could be the icebreaker for these services, but since transitioning to another network would be so easy, it is very possible that the consumer will demand more benefits while bargaining with another competitor. Also, the prepaid market would eventually prevail over subsidisation.
New disruptive business models have also been developed to match these tech gymnastics, like wholesale service provision and service providers for social media and internet content. Wholesalers will present several anonymous MNOs with a tariff selection, providing a dynamic cross-operator service. Fresh MVNO offers combine mobile data and Wi-Fi connectivity, and might extend their plans to even include refunds of unused, prepaid minutes that would be a tempting deal.
Roaming will also be affected as transparent services could allow the traveller to pick a foreign network present in their current location with just a few taps on the screen. In many countries, it has become common practice that regular roamers consider cutting out their home network provider and taking travel SIM solutions or an additional local SIM card for use when travelling. Taking this concept forwards, eSIM will extend this scenario and make it much easier and comfortable.
UROS is engaged with several projects on eSIM as an extension of its already hugely successful Goodspeed devices and apps providing low-cost roaming services. Mika explains, “UROS’ solution is based on GSMA standards. The benefit is that all industry players can understand the basic principles of the functionality since that is described in the standard. Security is also ensured in the standardised solution and therefore operators can join the platform without worrying about security.”
We believe that combining the standardised eSIM technology together with our own IoT platform provides the most advanced and reliable solution for our corporate and mobile operator customers. The eSIM solution will be available in smartphones and Goodspeed mobile hotspot devices as well as future IoT devices globally. The new ZTE V8 Lite smartphone with Goodspeed Roaming app is an example of a product leveraging this new solution.
In a world where ‘to stay connected’ has turned into a necessity, new developments will sprout every year and with them – new players with fresh ideas ready to take over the game. The smart subscriber will judge from the sidelines and pick selectively without hesitating too much to drop their MNO for a better deal such is the freedom of a world of eSIM.
|Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg, UROS' CEO, will be joining us at the MVNOs World Congress 2017 and speaking on 'Using eSim technology to implement bill-shock-free roaming'.|