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China Driving eSIM Adoption Says New GSMA Report

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The GSMA today announced the release of a new report highlighting the significant progress made by Chinese mobile operators, vendors and manufacturers in adopting Remote SIM Provisioning and eSIM technologies. The in-depth report which is titled eSIM in China: the road ahead and was prepared by GSMA Intelligence in partnership with the Telecommunication Terminal Industry Forum Association (TAF), draws on fresh insights from China’s three mobile operators – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom – as well other companies from the wider mobile ecosystem1 and highlights developments particularly in the consumer electronics and IoT sectors.

“In China and around the world, the huge adoption of eSIM technologies has been underpinned by the GSMA’s common and interoperable specification that is reducing fragmentation and delivering a consistent consumer experience,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “From consumer electronics to automotive we are seeing a diverse array of products hitting the market utilizing the benefits of connectivity and bringing consumers choice.”

Smartwatches Dominate eSIM Deployments; Smartphone Adoption Will Take Time
Smartwatches with eSIM technology are gaining momentum in China supported by products from numerous vendors. Although eSIM smartwatches still account for a small percentage of total smartwatch ownership this is likely to increase in the future. To drive adoption, Chinese operators are also allowing consumers to use their smartwatches as secondary devices with one mobile subscription. Despite creating smartphones for the global market, the Chinese domestic market has not formally adopted eSIM technology which will require appropriate regulation and new manufacturing, logistical and supply chain processes. Globally, over fifty mobile operators already support eSIM functionality in smartphones.

“China has a unique mobile market, both in terms of size and revenue growth and leadership in mobile developments and tech innovation has reached unprecedented levels. China is increasingly demonstrating its technological innovation and is emerging as a leading global market to test and implement new technologies,” said Xie Yi, Chairman of TAF. “Promoting the steady development of eSIM in China will help support developments in both the consumer and industrial markets. Based on the premise of national conditions, TAF has been committed to all parties in the joint industrial chain and cooperation with the GSMA, to make the best efforts to this end.”

China Setting the Groundwork
The report highlights the role of industry-wide collaboration in driving eSIM developments in China involving operators, government and regulatory bodies. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are all developing eSIM solutions and have launched cellular M2M and IoT eSIM platforms. The Chinese eSIM market is still in an early phase of development in which some proprietary solutions coexist with GSMA specifications. However, it is anticipated that there will be a transitional period as the market matures before it settles on the GSMA specification.

Regulation Key to eSIM Adoption
The report highlights the significant efforts being made in China to help set a favourable regulatory framework for eSIM deployments. Streamlining procedures and setting clear, unified rules on eSIM requirements for consumer and industrial devices is critical to accelerating the deployment of eSIM technology and its market adoption. This includes credentials management, designation of root certificate issuing and security and cross-border interoperability. The report also recommends that the government should facilitate trials of eSIM services, particularly in the nascent industrial IoT to promote an open eSIM ecosystem.

Global Adoption of eSIM Technology
The report highlights that there have been significant developments in the global eSIM ecosystem over the past two years with more than 90 mobile industry players supporting the GSMA’s specifications for Remote SIM Provisioning of consumer devices around the world. All are aligned behind a single, defacto approach avoiding industry fragmentation and interoperability issues, driving global developments and allowing consumer choice. While smartwatches were the first mass market product to adopt the technology, there is now growing implementation of eSIM functionality in tablets, laptops, notebooks and smartphones (e.g. Google and Apple). The automotive industry is also at the forefront of eSIM deployments and built-in connectivity is also now a specific requirement in Europe following the European Emergency Call (eCall) initiative.

eSIM at MWC19
The GSMA will host a seminar on eSIM at MWC19 on Thursday 28th February between 9-11am. The session will include a panel of expert speakers to explore and debate the challenges in deploying eSIM and bringing devices to market including topics such as. Security, Scalability and Connectivity. For further information, please go to: https://www.mwcbarcelona.com/session/esim-seminar-from-specification-to-live-products/

Get Involved at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2019
For more information on MWC19 Barcelona, including how to exhibit or sponsor, visit www.mwcbarcelona.com. Follow developments and updates on MWC19 on Twitter @GSMAEvents using #MWC19, on our LinkedIn MWC page www.linkedin.com/showcase/mwcbarcelona/ or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mobileworldcongress/. Follow other GSMA news and activity on Twitter @GSMA.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors
1. The following companies contributed to the report: Audi, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, China-ASEAN Information Harbor (CAIH), Gemalto, Giesecke+Devrient (G+D), Gotell, Hengbao, HPE, Huawei, Infineon Technologies, Little Genius, Microsoft, Mobvoi, Redtea Mobile, Samsung, Showmac and Valid.

About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces the industry-leading MWC events held annually in Barcelona, Los Angeles and Shanghai, as well as the Mobile 360 Series of regional conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

Contact information

Media Contacts:
For the GSMA
Beau Bass
+44 79 7662 4962
beau.bass@webershandwick.com

GSMA Press Office
pressoffice@gsma.com

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