eSIM: The Billion-Dollar Opportunity

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With every major technological advancement comes new opportunities. Right now, the mobile industry ecosystem is advancing from the era of plastic SIM cards and the one-connection-per-user model into the era of remote SIM provisioning thanks to eSIM technology, creating a billion-dollar opportunity for mobile network operators.

Meeting the Needs of the Connected Era

The eSIM market is set to grow by nearly 400 percent within the next three years, reaching nearly $1 billion ($978.3 million) by 2023, at a CAGR of 31.0 percent between 2018 and 2023. The number of units shipped during the same period is expected to grow from 287.7 million to 1,168.8 million.

The massive demand for eSIM connectivity is fuelled in large part by the Internet of Things (IoT) creating entirely new markets and expectations for mobile connectivity. Unlike its predecessor, eSIM technology makes it possible for operator profiles to be securely and remotely updated over-the-air, eliminating the need to swap plastic SIM cards to change networks.

This advantage alone is extremely important for the machine to machine (M2M) sector, where connected devices are often deployed in large numbers in remote or inaccessible locations. Examples include smart utility meters, connected cars and machinery, or monitoring systems in agriculture. By 2024, the number of these cellular machine-to-machine connections is projected to reach 1.6 billion.

However, the benefits of eSIM technology are not limited to the M2M sector. In the consumer electronics sector, companies like Apple, Samsung and Huawei have already launched smartphones with eSIM capabilities, making it easy for their users to remotely manage connectivity of their devices and seamlessly switch operators when travelling abroad.

Beyond smartphones, eSIM technology is being embraced by hardware manufacturers to offer a wide range of devices with always-on connectivity right out of the box. Think wireless security cameras that work with minimum configuration, wearables that connect to the internet even without being paired with a smartphone, or laptops shipped with internet access as a value-added service. 

In other words, eSIM is emerging as a key technology of the connected era, providing remote management of operator profiles and empowering users to seamlessly transition between networks as required. Already, it’s supported by more than 130 mobile network operators in over 60 countries, and other operators have more than enough reasons to adopt it as soon as possible.

Operators Need to Take Advantage of the eSIM Opportunity

It’s not just consumers and end users who can benefit from eSIM technology. Forward-thinking mobile network operators that don’t stubbornly insist on protecting their established yet declining business models and are ready to change their product offerings to better meet the needs of the connected era can expect an influx of new customers coming both from the M2M and consumer electronics sectors.

Through partnerships with eSIM providers and OEMs, mobile network operators can become key enablers of connectivity-based services, ensuring guaranteed and reliable access to them with wholesale deals and connectivity-as-a-service offerings.

In a world where anyone can switch to a different operator profile with a few simple clicks or taps, mobile network operators must look for ways to open doors to connected devices and new markets otherwise their sustainability could be threatened. For example, they can offer affordable multi-device packages, polished self-service tools, and bespoke data plans.

Ultimately, consumers will gravitate toward mobile network operators that can best satisfy their needs for connectivity, and operators that won’t take advantage of the eSIM opportunity will be left behind.

Conclusion

With 5G deployments underway in many countries around the world, it’s clear that cellular connectivity will soon become the preferred access method, and eSIM technology is quickly becoming a key enabler of the connected era. For consumers and businesses, eSIM connectivity means the ability to seamlessly switch operator profiles without swapping plastic SIM cards.

For mobile network operators, it means access to a massive number of new customers across all sectors. However, it also requires a shift towards a borderless cellular connectivity-as-a-service model. Operators that manage to meet the needs of the connected era will be in a position to take advantage of the eSIM opportunity, while others will be left behind.

If you are interested in learning more about eSIM technology and how your business can take advantage of it then I can recommend Workz Group, a company recently recognised by Counterpoint Research as one of six leading eSIM providers worldwide.