While having a GSM handset and a SIM card can be a blessing when you want to switch your phones, but sometimes it can be a hassle if you have to trot to a store to activate the SIM or anything like that. The GSM Association is aiming to solve this problem with their newest proposition: embedded SIM cards. These new cards would be embedded in the device itself and would allow remote activation. In addition, the cards could be used in places where a regular SIM is too large, like a camera, MP3 player, or e-Reader. A study of the market's needs will be completed by January, and devices with the new embedded SIMs are expected to begin arriving in 2012. Don't worry about your existing, non-embedded SIM cards, though, because they'll still function as normal. There have been rumors that Apple and Gemalto have been working together on a nearly identical concept for an upcoming iPhone, but nothing has been confirmed. You can check out the full press release below.
These embedded SIMs seem like a pretty neat idea, especially considering that they could pave the way for more-connected MP3 players, cameras, etc. Sure, it's disappointing that you won't be able to swap SIMs like many of us GSM users are accustomed to, but that's the trade-off for new, smaller tech, right?
UPDATE: The carriers have heard about Apple's plans for an embedded SIM card, and they're none too happy. Threats have been made, including some carriers saying that they'll refuse to carry an iPhone with an embedded SIM, and the carriers are worried that Apple is trying to gain control of the carrier-subscriber relationship. If Apple does end up with an embedded SIM in an upcoming iPhone, I'm sure that the carriers will huff and puff, but I can't see them not carrying the device. They've all seen how successful the iPhone can be, so I don't think they'd let a competitor carry the device and steal their customers.
GSMA Launches Embedded SIM Initiative to Support the Connected Future
Task Force of Mobile Operators to Develop an Open Standard to Bring Connectivity to More Devices
HONG KONG, Nov. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The GSMA today announced the formation of a task force of mobile operators to explore the development of an embedded SIM that can be remotely activated. The move is expected to enable the design of exciting new form factors for mobile communications. It will also speed the development of M2M services by making it easier to bring mobile broadband to non-traditional devices such as cameras, MP3 players, navigation devices and e-Readers, as well as smart meters.
"The traditional SIM has been an important innovation in mobile telephony, and has provided many benefits to consumers in terms of security, portability of contacts, and ease of portability of devices across networks," said Rob Conway, CEO and Member of the Board of the GSMA. "As our industry moves from connecting phones to connecting a wide range of devices, it is apparent that the embedded SIM could deliver even greater flexibility. The embedded SIM will provide assured levels of security and portability for consumers, as well as provide additional functionality for enabling new services such as e-Wallet and NFC applications."
The GSMA-led task force comprises a group of leading technical experts drawn from operators including AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom Orange, KT, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone. The group will work in cooperation with major SIM producers.
The task force will analyse market requirements and deliver a technical solution as an evolution of the current SIM provisioning mechanisms. The proposed embedded SIM solution will include programmable SIM card capabilities to enable remote activation.
The group is expected to complete the analysis of market requirements by January 2011. The resulting technical solution will be built on the principles of openness and standardisation. Devices featuring the new SIM activation capability are expected to appear in 2012. Traditional SIM-supported devices will continue to work on existing networks.
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry. Spanning 219 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world's mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media and entertainment organisations. The GSMA is focused on innovating, incubating and creating new opportunities for its membership, all with the end goal of driving the growth of the mobile communications industry.