Why Russia will not yet have iPhones with eSIM technology

Because of conservative law and unavailability of operators.

Apple announced that there will not be any iPhones with eSIM in China either, but there will be special models with two physical SIM cards. Photos from the presentation of the company
Apple announced that there will not be any iPhones with eSIM in China either, but there will be special models with two physical SIM cards. Photos from the presentation of the company

ESIM, but in Russia the technology is not supported

As Apple announced at the presentation on September 12, the new iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will feature eSIM technology. The digital SIM card allows you to abandon the physical analog (nanoSIM) and switch between operators – without visiting the communication salon, signing written contracts and reconciling the passport.

The chip eSIM is installed in the device by default, it is not removable and makes the theft of the iPhone virtually meaningless. It is also supported in the third generation of Apple Watch, which are sold in Russia in the version without the support of cellular communication.

New subscribers with eSIM will be able to use only subscribers of 14 operators in 10 countries. Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other neighboring countries are not among them. In China, Hong Kong and Macao devices will be equipped with two slots for physical SIM-cards from two different sides.

Operators fear loss of traffic

The first reason for the absence of eSIM in Russia is the fear of operators . “On the one hand, this is the risk of loss and loss of subscriber traffic, on the other – this gives the opportunity to build a new business model, since the consumer will use the electronic SIM card longer than usual,” explained executive vice president for corporate strategy and the development of business “Beeline” Alexander Popovsky.

Because of the lack of a large number of new subscribers, companies are struggling for customer loyalty and used traffic, explained Denis Kuskov, general director of the TelecomDaily analytical agency. “In this case, they are probably afraid that some of the money will not go to them, but to outside operators,” he suggested.

The law considers eSIM cloning a SIM card

The second reason that Russian operators are considering, but does not yet support eSIM, is a legislative ban . As confirmed in the press service of MegaFon, which tested the technology as early as 2016, the Law on Communications still equates eSIM with the cloning of the SIM card. If the SIM card is a unique identifier of the subscriber, then eSIM identification is excluded.

“ESIM assumes the possibility of switching between networks of operators without visiting the office of the telecom operator, but in Russia the SIM card number is fixed in the subscriber agreement,” Popovsky said from Beeline. According to him, the operators have not yet determined what specific scenarios for using eSIM in Russia, for example, connection and disconnection of subscribers, may arise.

Changes in the law are not yet to be expected

Legislative initiatives on the use of eSIM are not yet known. In August, the media wrote about the government’s work on the rules for monitoring devices with eSIM, but the development of this idea was not reported.

The move in legislation regarding eSIM should not be expected until at least the end of the year, Kuskov said from TelecomDaily. The analyst stressed that operators should independently propose initiatives to the authorities in this area, however, in his opinion, the Ministry of Digital Development is still focused on the digital economy and does not consider this issue a priority.

In Russia, very strict rules for tracking everything, take the situation with Telegram, the law of Yarovaya or the acquisition of SIM-cards according to passport data.

She limps on both feet. The law was passed that it is necessary to trade SIM cards only in official stores, but no one interferes with reaching the Belorussian station, where the guys will stand and sell SIM cards of any operators that can be bought without a passport. Therefore, no law passed, like the law of Yarovoy, does not work at all: even if you write down correspondence, you will never find this person. And law enforcement agencies pass by these traders and do nothing, so they are interested in this.

ESIM technology is also considered by the state as unnecessary for our country to use a mobile phone for any unlawful purposes. It is likely they are worried that they will not be able to track the identification of a particular user.

Denis Kuskov
Head of TelecomDaily
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