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Ravi Rishy-Maharaj: Forget 5G. eSIM will take the spotlight in 2019

Ravi Rishy-Maharaj
|Dec 19|magazine16 min read

We hear from Ravi Rishy-Maharaj, Founder and CEO of Gigsky, about the future of the eSIM going forward into 2019. GigSky is a leading provider of global connectivity solutions for travelers on the go and enterprises requiring mobility to make international business travel more productive.

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The tech-buzz word for the last few years has been 5G. The reality is that 5G won’t see wide-scale implementation and impact over the next 12 months. In 2019, the spotlight will be on eSIM technology as we see it cause greater disruption to across many industries including telecom, aviation, automotive and many more. eSIM will be the force behind changes in OTT experiences - everything from e-commerce to entertainment to IoT.

As eSIM rises, here are three key trends to look out for:

 

The eSIM Revolution

The eSIM revolution is on the horizon and brings with it a raft of benefits to consumers -- it offers a service that demonstrates value, convenience, and transparency. Research shows that 60% of respondents want effortless device activation and eSIM technology provides that. Whether a consumer is buying a wearable, a tablet or a smartphone containing an eSIM, they can activate connectivity at the point of sale.

Additionally, if people are in an area where they are unable to connect via their selected carrier, eSIM technology allows them to switch to a carrier with better coverage in that zone. eSIM also frees up space for new features or additional battery life, and it can even reduce the risk of device theft. An eSIM can’t be removed and it’s impossible to change or overwrite the profile unless the person trying to change it has the specific security key.

Throughout the next year, the industry will see consumers embrace eSIM technology through services such as GigSky, and become more comfortable with the flexibility and convenience it provides. As a result, the eSIM market will cement its position among mobile users, as they opt for pay-as-you-go data services when traveling abroad. What’s more, consumers may find additional uses for eSIM data services closer to home, in areas where signals are weak or data traffic is highly congested. The ease of use, greater customization, and immediacy of the service will find mobile subscribers clamoring for changes from their traditional carriers.

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The Opportunity For Mobile Carriers

By 2023, it has been estimated that the eSIM market will grow from US$253.8mn in 2018 to $978.3mn. Without a doubt, eSIM technology will overtake mobile operators who, in turn, are going to need to shift gears from price and network comparisons and embrace an entirely new playing field. eSIM will be seen as a natural replacement for the plastic SIM -- research highlights that 20% of Mobile Network Operators are keen to develop new eSIM-related projects, with the intention of bringing them to market. Verizon, AT&T and most recently T-mobile are carriers that are jumping on the eSIM wagon.

In order to stay competitive in this new eSIM era, MNOs will need to change their focus from price to offering a level of service that matches network performance, including personalized data plans that can be easily modified at any time and in any place. While eSIM presents a game-changing opportunity for the consumer, it also opens up a host of new possibilities for others in the value chain, including the mobile operator, if taken advantage of in the proper way. In the next 12 months, we will see more operators expanding their businesses into additional markets, for example automotive, wearables and consumer electronics in an attempt to develop new reasons to compete for mindshare and stanch the tide of subscriber churn, while also opening new revenue streams.

The Trillion Dollar IoT opportunity

It’s a well-known statistic that by 2020 the number of connected devices in existence will reach over 80bn by 2025. Some analysts believe that by 2024 the IoT market will be worth up to  $7.5trn in investments. And, the key player that is poised to have a dramatic impact in 2019 is the emergence of eSIM technology.

Many operators have welcomed Apple’s introduction of eSIMs with apprehension, yet it should be seen as an opportunity rather than a threat. This goes for both telcos and device manufacturers, all which stand to benefit from a globally connected IoT. 2019 will see eSIMs driving the success of IoT which will be catapulted by major businesses like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Huawei, and Qualcomm. Next year will see a significant emergence of eSIM and, in turn, smart devices will become more independent from their current service providers. More devices will adopt eSIM in 2019 to enable changing the way users consume their connected content.

As Apple and Android are making dual SIM a reality, with device manufacturers scrambling to follow suit, carriers will pivot toward customer experience as a key differentiator. We will see more innovation and on-demand app experiences that put the consumer in control of their talk, text and data use.