It’s likely that even if you’re not very interested in being technologically knowledgeable, you’ve heard of a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card. These are the tiny cards that are within your phone that enable you to utilise your plan and connect to the network of your wireless provider. These days, embedded SIM cards, or eSIMs, are all the rage.
An eSIM, or electronic SIM card, is a virtual SIM card that identifies your device via a network. Tablets, smart watches, drones, and even automobiles all use eSIMs. In essence, they are networking game-changers that save space.
At India Mobile Congress, 2023, Rahul Tandon, Senior Vice President at IDEMIA, shared his insights on eSIM technology, transition from physical SIM cards to eSIMs, 5G technology, IDEMIA’s take on the Indian Market and much more. Here are some excerpts from the interaction:
V&D: Let’s begin by discussing eSIMs, particularly in the context of IDEMIA. Can you share your thoughts on eSIM technology? Is it a recent introduction, or has it been around for a while?
Rahul Tandon: eSIM technology has been available for some time, but it has gained significant traction in the connectivity and automotive sectors. We are witnessing a rise in connected cars and smart meters, which are driving the adoption of eSIMs. While the technology has existed, it is now being more widely embraced due to these use cases.
V&D: How user-friendly is the transition from physical SIM cards to eSIMs? Is it a straightforward process?
Rahul Tandon: Transitioning to eSIMs is relatively easy and convenient. However, it’s important to engage with eSIM technology during the design phase, especially since it’s integrated into the chipset. Once that’s done, using eSIMs as a consumer, whether for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications or in your mobile device, is straightforward and ensures a seamless connection.
Rahul Tandon: Today, there is abundant information and support available for users looking to acquire eSIM technology. Mobile stores, in particular, are very helpful in assisting consumers with the transition. It usually takes only a few minutes to get up and running with eSIMs. However, in more complex environments like M2M and IoT, such as in connected cars, early engagement and compatibility with device design are crucial. Standardization and regulatory frameworks are evolving to facilitate adaptation.
V&D:Switching gears to security and privacy concerns, how do you view the security and privacy aspects of eSIM technology?
Rahul Tandon: Security and privacy are vital aspects that continue to evolve as technology advances. These concerns extend beyond eSIM technology and are applicable to the broader digital landscape. As digitalization becomes more pervasive, security standards and frameworks adapt to protect both consumers and ecosystems. While no system is entirely foolproof, efforts are ongoing to address vulnerabilities.
V&D: Speaking of eSIMs in the context of travel, especially for international travelers, what is your perspective on the global impact of eSIMs in this regard?
Rahul Tandon: Easily one of the most significant benefits of eSIM technology is its convenience for international travelers. It simplifies international roaming, reduces costs, and provides seamless connectivity. This technology enhances the overall travel experience, making it more cost-effective and efficient for users.
V&D: Have you used an eSIM while traveling or for connectivity? How was the experience?
Rahul Tandon: Yes, I have used eSIMs, but it’s essential to note that the experience can differ due to varying regulatory requirements. In India, for example, Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations add an extra layer of complexity compared to Europe. The process may take a bit longer, but the experience remains fundamentally similar.
V&D: Considering the Indian market, how do you foresee the adoption of eSIM technology, particularly in a price-sensitive market?
Rahul Tandon: In the Indian market, consumer subscriptions remain tied to the four major operators—Airtel, Jio, Vodafone, and BSNL. The technology enables consumers to acquire subscriptions via eSIM, and pricing is not a significant barrier. However, the device ecosystem plays a crucial role. As India is price-sensitive, it currently has more low-end devices than high-end ones that support eSIM technology. Over time, as the market matures, we can expect more high-end devices to support eSIMs.
V&D: How does IDEMIA view the Indian market for eSIM technology in the next 5 years?
Rahul Tandon: IDEMIA is optimistic about the Indian market and is actively involved in various aspects of eSIM technology. We have contributed to the evolution of physical SIM cards to eSIMs, connectivity life cycle management, and IoT segments like automotive and energy. IDEMIA is not only facilitating SIM cards and service sectors but also providing security solutions to enhance privacy. We are looking forward to the future, especially with the growing penetration of 5G.
V&D: Do you think India has established or is in the process of building a robust 5G ecosystem?
Rahul Tandon: Certainly, India has made significant progress in deploying 5G technology. The rapid deployment, covering a large portion of the population in a relatively short time, demonstrates the agility of the implementation. As 5G continues to evolve and more use cases emerge, India’s 5G ecosystem is poised for growth, especially with government support, private networks, and the expansion of IoT use cases.
V&D: Lastly, considering that we’re still in the early stages of adopting 5G, with discussions about 6G already underway, do you think India is prepared for the transition to 6G?
Rahul Tandon: Yes, India has proven its readiness and adaptability in implementing 5G. The government’s support and policy frameworks have played a significant role in this process. As 5G continues to evolve and penetrate the market, it will pave the way for the next generation of technology, including 6G. India’s massive potential and the ongoing innovation in the technological landscape make it well-prepared for the transition to 6G when the time comes.”