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Growing Acceptance of eSIM Technology Among Telecom Operators

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Telecom operators are increasingly embracing eSIM technology, which is expected to be featured in over half of all smartphones sold globally within the next five years, according to new research from CCS Insight.

The analyst firm projects that by 2028, 56% of smartphones will support embedded SIMs, a significant rise from 27% last year. Despite the presence of over 200 eSIM-enabled devices and support from 800 operators, global adoption has been moderate, with 150 million eSIMs in use compared to 8.9 billion cellular subscriptions.

Initially, mobile operators were hesitant to support eSIM in smartphones, fearing increased competition from major tech companies and potential revenue loss from roaming services. However, the financial benefits and new opportunities presented by the technology have begun to shift operator sentiment.

Kester Mann, Director of Consumer and Connectivity at CCS Insight, noted, “Operators are now more accepting of eSIM technology, recognizing its potential to attract new customers, support digital customer journeys, improve environmental impact, and achieve substantial cost savings estimated to exceed $3 billion by 2028.”

While operators’ support is crucial, device manufacturers, particularly Apple, are driving the eSIM market. The release of the first eSIM-only iPhone in the US in 2022 spurred other manufacturers to follow suit, leaving consumers with little choice but to adapt to the technology.

Consumer reaction to eSIM technology has been mixed, with many showing ambivalence. Benefits like smoother operator switching and better roaming deals are appealing, but widespread understanding of these advantages remains limited. CCS Insight’s research from March indicated that 10% of consumers in markets such as the UK, US, Germany, Spain, and Australia have used eSIM for international roaming, and over 60% of those who haven’t are open to trying it in the future.

Educating consumers on eSIM benefits is a challenge for the industry. Companies that excel in guiding customers through this transition are likely to see the most success. CCS Insight believes eSIM technology is set to become a major disruptor in the mobile industry.

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