Nepal Telecom launches eSIM serviceThe eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is built into the mobile set and eliminates the need for a physical SIM card.
Nepal Telecom on Friday launched its eSIM service which allows subscribers to operate their cell phones with a virtual SIM card, and eliminates the need for a physical SIM card.
The eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is built into the mobile set, and subscribers have to download software to activate it and link up with the network.
The state-owned telecom giant said its existing prepaid and postpaid users could switch to eSIM free of cost.
Customers possessing Android mobile phones can dial *#06# to check whether their set supports eSIM or not, it said.
"Phones supporting eSIM will show the message eSIM ID (EID) on the screen," said Shobhan Adhikari, spokesperson for Nepal Telecom.
"If your set runs on Apple iOS, the operating system in iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices, check for the 'add cellular plan' option in the setting, which means the device will support eSIM," said Adhikari.
"Or users can dial *#06# to check whether the screen shows the eID message. Users of wearable smart devices like smartwatches that support eSIM can benefit from the new service."
New postpaid users have to pay for the eSIM service, and the charge is equivalent to the cost of the physical SIM card currently.
“We plan to launch the service for new prepaid users soon,” said the company. The customer needs to fill out a form and submit it to Nepal Telecom by visiting its office physically.
The virtual SIM also allows subscribers to switch from one mobile network to another without having to change the physical SIM card.
In April 2022, Nepal Telecom signed an agreement with Monty UK Global Limited to provide an eSIM platform. Nepal Telecom had planned to launch the eSIM in mid-July, but the trials were delayed.
Both 5G and eSIM are widely being adopted by industry stakeholders worldwide.
Nepal Telecom is all set to begin the country's first 5G technology trials by this year.
“The eSIM is secure. There will be no security issues in the new technology,” said Adhikari. “The customer can add or remove operators without the need to physically change the SIM card in the device.”
Nepal Telecom says eSIM has several advantages like allowing customers to easily switch between service providers. It is a programmable SIM card that is embedded directly into a device, said the company.
Austria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, among other countries, offer eSIM services.
“Customers who travel frequently benefit from eSIM as they do not need to change their physical SIM continuously," Adhikari said.
Hassles like the SIM card being misplaced, lost or physically damaged are eliminated; eSIM also supports wearable devices.
Telecom officials say the benefits of adopting the eSIM technology include an increase in reliability in comparison to the physical SIM card.
According to experts, eSIM has less chances of mechanical failure, and it can be used in several devices, even very small ones.
The physical SIM which communicates with the mobile network is programmed with the user's information. With the eSIM, users download their profile to the device by using the software. But not all phones currently support eSIM.
The devices that support eSIM are iPhone 13, 12 and 11 series; iPhone XS, iPad Pro 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation; iPad Air 3rd and 4th generation; different variants of the Samsung Galaxy series, including the foldable model; and Google Pixel 2 and later. Wearable devices of Apple and Samsung also support eSIM.
The eSIM became popular when Apple introduced the technology two years ago with the iPhone XS; since then, all iPhones, Google Pixel devices and some Samsung devices have been equipped with it.
Samsung Electronics announced the Samsung Gear S2 classic 3G as the first device in the market to be equipped with an eSIM compliant with GSMA Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) architecture.
Airtel introduced the technology in India in 2019.
Mobile number portability, which allows consumers to change operators without altering numbers, will become easier with the eSIM.
The Nepal Telecommunications Authority has prepared a draft of the Mobile Number Portability Regulation 2021, and once this comes into force, users can change service providers while retaining their own numbers.
Private sector telecommunication service providers say the Nepali market is not yet ready for eSIM.
“Devices supporting eSIM are yet to penetrate the Nepali market to create value for mass consumers. Ncell will review readiness to enable eSIM once the market reaches an acceptable level of maturity,” Ncell said in an email message to the Post.