South Africa’s semi-private telecom group, Telkom Mobile today launched eSIM support for its customers across Huawei, Samsung and Apple smartphones.
eSIM is a digital Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) that allows customers to activate a tariff plan from Telkom, or other operators, without having to use a physical SIM. It is an integrated SIM that is built into devices and cannot be removed, unlike a traditional SIM.
eSIM technology has been steadily gaining in Africa. In June, Safaricom launched its eSIM support in Kenya. MTN was amongst the first to introduce eSIM support in South Africa, debuting the tech for Apple and Samsung devices last year.
“Historically, most of our customers have used traditional card Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs). These enable Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to identify a user and then to authenticate that the user is serviced by that MNO,” explained Andrew Dawson, Executive: Product Portfolio Management at Telkom.
“Going forward, Telkom will support eSIM enabled handsets. We will enable eSIM provisioning; a specification which allows consumers to activate the SIM embedded in their phone.”
How eSIMs Work
Telkom is set to offer customers an eSIM voucher pack which will contain a QR code with the necessary steps to install an eSIM profile on any eSIM-enabled handset. To use the eSIM, a customer needs a package from Telkom, prepaid or post-paid service, such as Telkom More or FreeMe package.
Additionally, customers will need a voucher and QR Code to install the eSIM profile. The handset will not require a physical or traditional SIM card. Customers may use their eSIM enabled handset and scan the QR code contained in the eSIM voucher pack to download Telkom’s eSIM profile and to install this profile on their handset.
eSIMs will enable customers to switch between networks more easily if they wish to temporarily change to another network. Also, eSIM-enabled devices can have up to eight different profiles installed.
An eSIM allows a customer to download a network profile with necessary network information which is normally configured on a traditional SIM.
“Most customers will be able to have more than one SIM card; a dual SIM setup, as most eSIM enabled devices will still have a physical SIM slot available. Since eSIMs are embedded in devices, users can’t lose their SIMs and these eSIMs are more reliable than traditional physical SIM cards,” said Dawson.
“eSIMs are an enhancement of Telkom’s SIM offering and no changes have been made to the provisioning process of mobile services for eSIM services. When provisioning mobile services with an eSIM, one must follow the normal activation process to activate a mobile service on an eSIM.”
eSIMs are device-dependent and only devices that can have an embedded SIM can make use of the technology.
For the launch phase, Telkom will only support eSIM enabled smartphones. These include devices from:
- Apple (XS / XR / 11 / 12 and Apple iPad 7th generation and higher)
- Huawei (40 / 40 Pro / 40 Pro+ and P40 / P40 Pro / P40 Pro+)
- Samsung (Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy S21 and Galaxy Z Fold2).
Other devices such as wearables devices (e.g., watches) that are eSIM enabled will be supported at a later stage, the company says.