US Mobile, an MVNO in the US that rides on top of the networks of T-Mobile and Verizon, announced the commercial availability of eSIM technology for its service.And the company isn't pulling any punches when it comes to what eSIM means to US Mobile and the broader mobile ecosystem.
"eSIMs will make connecting simpler, and also offer features that we have never seen before like being able to switch plans instantly, getting live-at-arrival connectivity when traveling abroad, or intelligently shifting between networks," the company wrote on its website. "This will spark new ecosystems and services that will transform the way we live and work."US Mobile said customers with compatible phones can sign up for its service by scanning a QR code. Click here for a larger version of this image. (Source: US Mobile)
US Mobile said it's now supporting eSIM technology across a handful of iPhone models as well as the Google Pixel 4a. The company did not specify exactly which wireless network it will use for eSIM activations: "US Mobile's eSIMs are currently available only on our Super LTE network," the company said on its website in regards to the wireless network it's using for the service. "You can get access to Ludicrous 4G LTE coverage on the fastest network in the US with compatible 5G devices."
On LinkedIn, US Mobile CEO Ahmed Khattak described the launch as a "giant leap for instant wireless connectivity." And the company itself suggested eSIM technology may eventually support a variety of new features and functions: "Imagine adding a plan to a device hundreds of miles away. Or even bringing a whole fleet of IoT devices online in a few clicks. Imagine switching between networks in a flash to suit your needs. Or having multiple networks on the same device," the company wrote on LinkedIn.
According to a lengthy FierceWireless article on the company in July, US Mobile's eSIM launch this week stems from the $11.5 million in Series A funding it scored from Volition Capital. The company suggested eSIM technology could help it grow its customer base to around 500,000 subscribers within the next two years. The company counted 50,000 subscribers in 2018.
The eSIM chronicles
US Mobile's launch of eSIM represents an important marker for a technology that traces its origins back to 2011, when the global GSMA trade association first started working on it. However, according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ), AT&T and Verizon in 2016 moved within the GSMA to block the implementation of eSIM in the US market "to benefit the incumbent operator members by reducing their competitive pressures."
Following an investigation into the issue by the DoJ, the GSMA agreed to tweak its procedures in a way that could potentially allow eSIM to launch in the US market without the support of AT&T and Verizon.
In its LinkedIn post, US Mobile appeared to tacitly acknowledge the palace intrigue surrounding eSIM. "We know that it will take time for the broader connectivity ecosystem to bring all of this to fruition, but we're seeing that same ecosystem make the right moves to make this all happen. Your favorite tech companies have been fighting behind the scenes to accelerate the adoption of this next-generation, elegant customer experience."
US Mobile's launch of eSIM, albeit under the "beta" banner, comes just a few months after T-Mobile launched a "test drive" iOS application using eSIM. "The T-Mobile Network Test Drive app is an iOS only based app that gives potential customers using a compatible unlocked iPhone the option to test our amazing network out before joining," the company wrote of the service.
However, A T-Mobile representative earlier this year described the offering as a "pilot program" and provided no further details. The app is still available in the Apple App Store, and was updated two months ago "with bug fixes and performance improvements."
Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano