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Reports from the Road – eSIM Connect, London


eSIM Connect, London, UK

This is the third in a series of GigSky “reports from the road” as we, the GigSky team, travel to various conferences across the globe. We’ll bring you the latest industry news, insight on what we see, how it might impact you and any future developments to keep an eye on. This report is from our VP of Business Development, Rich Neville, who traveled to London in November for eSIM Connect.

Pro Tip: Black cabs are super expensive and Uber is available in most places in the central city. Traffic, however, is awful, so take the tube to efficiently get around.

One of the advantages of living in California is the year-round nice weather, so winter-time travel has to be evaluated carefully. Are the risks of being cold worth the business benefit? In the case of eSIM Connect, the answer was a definite yes as we were blessed with spring temperatures to go along with the excellent debate in the conference sessions.

GigSky had two panel sessions at eSIM Connect with a highly engaged crowd.

One Path Forward

The element of eSIM that is so disruptive is that it touches nearly every piece of the mobile value chain – from chip vendors, to OEMs, to operators and OTT players like GigSky. The old order is bound to change and it remains to be seen who will emerge victorious in the next decade.

eSIMs are the wave of the future and many big device manufacturers have already built platforms to support eSIM (Apple, Samsung, Microsoft), but their iterations are proprietary and not the open system that the GSMA envisions. According to Head of the Connected SIM Program at the GSMA, Jean-Christophe Tisseuil, one of the main goals of the project is to avoid fragmentation around eSIM. Fragmentation would, undoubtedly, slow the adoption of eSIM and give big operators more excuses to delay implementation of eSIM. The standard is very complex and we’re still working through some minor changes. None of the large handset manufacturers have committed to deploy eSIM on one of their top tier devices, but we know they are coming. It’s just a matter of time.

Consistent Customer Experience for eSIM?

One of the participants at the conference raised a question about whether the GSMA is working on a consistent customer experience for downloading the eSIM. This was something that I had not considered, but it is something worth exploring. The response from the GSMA was that the user experience was being left to the operator’s discretion. That decision means that customers will have to learn a new process every time they want to download an eSIM. The GSMA should consider developing a template that handles the main interface while allowing the operators to add their look & feel.

Smaller Operators Look to eSIM Providers for Cost Savings

We also heard from GlobalTel in Serbia a relatively new entrant in that market. As a smaller operator, they faced massive roaming costs – the CEO quoted one offer for roaming in the UK at €7,000 per GB. GlobalTel also looked at just offering international wi-fi, but found that the coverage was so limited that it made it useless for their customers. Faced with these high charges, GlobalTel sought out a global softSIM provider to bring rates down to a reasonable level for their customers. While a lot of companies in the data SIM business offer retail products, there is a good opportunity for smaller operators to partner with companies like GigSky to leverage the benefits of eSIM.

Notes of Interest:

· The standard 4FF SIM card occupies 20% of the phone’s real estate. The space savings are why OEMs are pushing for the adoption. Bigger batteries, more sensors, flexible phones are on the horizon.

· 70% of LTE phones sold in Pakistan are dual SIM, but the smartphone penetration is only 34%. Great opportunity here when eSIM devices hit the market.

· Once the eSIM standard is locked, look for the chipset manufacturers to include eSIM in the system-on-a-chip (SoC).

Happy New Year Everyone! Next up will be Barcelona again for Mobile World Congress.


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