The GSM Association, or GSMA for short, is the institution that represents carriers and decides on industry standards, and it has a veritable bombshell to announce pretty soon, it seems. The organization has been working for a while on an embedded e-SIM card standard – you know, the one that got European carriers up in arms against Apple a few years ago – and both Apple and Samsung are in “advanced talks” to join the initiative at launch.
A standardised embedded SIM card would allow devices to switch carrier plans on a whim, and do away with pesky card slots, which somewhat explains the phone makers’ excitement – there will be more precious space saved inside their thin smartphones for other components. The carriers that are whispered to carry the e-SIM standard at launch are AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone.
Apple already has an electronic SIM in its latest iPads, though only T-Mobile and AT&T, as well as EE in the UK support it. A few years back, it had an advanced partnership with Gemalto, the largest SIM security provider, for embedding a Subscriber Identity Module in the next iPhone, but European carriers threatened to cut their subsidy for Apple’s phones, so the idea was put on ice as too ahead of its time.
As for when will the e-SIM standard hit, the GSMA had the following to comment: “With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalise 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.”