US operators detail eSIM threats, opportunities - Mobile World Live

US operators detail eSIM threats, opportunities

04 OCT 2018

CCA ANNUAL CONVENTION, ORLANDO, FLORIDA: The rise of eSIM technology could make it easier for regional US operators to gain new subscribers from tier-one competitors, but also brings the risk online retail giants like Amazon will push operators out of the device sales equation, a panel of CEOs explained.

Bluegrass Cellular CEO Ron Smith noted physical retailers including Walmart already sell devices and services for tier-one operators. In an eSIM environment, he said it’s likely major online retailers will move to do the same, a shift which could further separate smaller operators from potential customers.

“That probably cuts out the regionals, the tier-two, tier-threes because they’ll focus on tier-ones and as that becomes the main selling mechanism for wireless down the line, it’s a real challenge.”

But C Spire CIO Craig Sparks highlighted the flexibility eSIM technology (which replaces physical sim cards with software) provides for customers looking to jump ship from tier-one networks.

“It’s a threat but it’s also an opportunity for all of us,” he said. “If I convince you to swap carriers over lunch, you should be able to pull up that menu and join my carrier at will. You can’t do that today, but you will with eSIM.”

The discussion came during an increased focus on eSIM following Apple’s adoption of the technology in its latest iPhone X lineup. ABI Research forecast the move could help drive the market for eSIM-enabled devices to 420 million units annually by 2022.

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Diana Goovaerts

Diana is Mobile World Live's US Editor, reporting on infrastructure and spectrum rollouts, regulatory issues, and other carrier news from the US market. Diana came to GSMA from her former role as Editor of Wireless Week and CED Magazine, digital-only...

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