South Africa’s two largest cellular network providers Vodacom and MTN, and newcomer Rain, plan to accommodate eSIM-cards by 2020.
An eSIM-card is built into a smartphone and needs to be activated by a mobile network to be operational. Like a traditional SIM-card, it allows users access to mobile networks to make calls, surf the internet or send messages. A SIM and an eSIM can be used together in one device, and consumers would therefore be able to access different networks on one device.
A number of devices – like the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xr, Samsung Galaxy S9, and Samsung Galaxy S9+ – already have eSIMs. Vodacom was the first South African company to accommodate eSIM cards with the Samsung Galaxy Watch, launched in March.
MTN said it is in consultation with manufacturers to finalise its eSIM service.
Newcomer Rain said the launch of its eSIM-cards is depended on its ability to launch a RICA online platform where consumers would be able to register their SIM cards without standing in queues.
Meanwhile, Cell C said most new mobile phones do not yet contain e-SIM cards and it would, therefore, only launch the technology when most devices do.