Every piece of technology eventually finds its way into that big electronics bin in the sky – we saw this happen with bag phones, car phones and even pagers – and it looks like the old SIM Card may soon be on its way there as well. Apple and Samsung are rumored to be in advanced talks with the GSM Association (GSMA)…the one that represents mobile operators worldwide…and are on the verge of announcing an agreement to produce an embedded SIM (e-SIM) in mobile devices, including smartphones.
The traditional SIM Card is either included or purchased when you pick up a new smartphone (or tablet) at your particular carrier. The information on that card allows it to work with ONLY their network, making it more of a pain to move to another carrier…and sometimes more costly because they may charge you for the card or charge an activation fee. With an embedded e-SIM Card, the technology is part of the device and travels with you to any carrier. There would be no more fumbling around to slide the old SIM Card out, slide the new one in and then activate it. This would be a huge step forward for customers that would allow them to freely take their device to another network without having to change or pay for a new SIM Card.
The phone manufacturers are onboard, although the carriers themselves may not like the idea. Already onboard are AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telef³nica and Vodafone. Anne Bouverot, chief executive of the GSMA says the purpose and objective of these talks is to agree on a "common architecture." Between now and when the e-SIMs will actually arrive in our devices could be at least a year away. The GSMA said, "With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalize 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."
Dr. Markus Kuhn from the University of Cambridge believes that SIM Card days are numbered and that users may soon be using a password or software to access the networks. A user could actually have a plan on more than one carrier and switch between whichever one is cheaper depending where they are at that particular time. He envisions apps and software that will automatically determine the cheapest rate and connect you to that network. It would also boost security by allowing the user to change their password to ward off any outside attacks.