RBC: FSB and the “big three” operators opposed the introduction of eSim technology

Companies fear increased competition, and security forces cannot use Russian cryptography.

Presentation of eSim at Apple Presentation in 2018

MegaFon, MTS, VimpelCom (owns the Beeline brand) and a representative of the Federal Security Service spoke against the introduction of eSim technology, which is used in the latest iPhones and allows you to abandon the physical counterpart. About this RBC reported three sources in the telecommunications market.

At the end of March, operators discussed the prospects for eSim in Russia at a meeting with the participation of the FSB and representatives of the federal government. According to RBC,The “big three” are concerned about the possible intensification of competition and the resulting reduction in revenue against the background of the fact that companies need to invest, including in infrastructure under the “law of Spring”.

According to the publication’s interlocutors, after the introduction of eSim, the need to open communication shops and sell physical analogues will disappear. In their opinion,this will lead to competition from virtual mobile operators and “lower barriers” for companies like Apple and Google, which “will be able to offer cellular services at prices well below market”. Russian operators also do not like the fact that foreign companies will be able to supply smartphones in the Russian Federation already with communication contracts, thereby leading to an outflow of money abroad.

The fact that eSim will make it easy to change the operator will lead to price wars between operators, one of RBC sources is sure. “As a result, operators will lose a significant portion of cash flows, and the price of communications in Russia is already one of the lowest in the world.”He said.

MegaFon stated that it is too early to implement eSim. The operator warned about the “significant increase in the number and intensity” of hacker attacks, for example, with the substitution of the operator profile or the cloning of the user on other devices. “There are other problems of an organizational, technical, legal nature,” MegaFon believes. MTS and VimpelCom have not officially commented on the situation.

According to RBC, a representative of the FSB spoke against the introduction of eSim in Russia, since devices with a digital SIM card do not support Russian cryptographic algorithms. Officially, the agency did not comment on its position.

Operators and authorities are still discussing the possibility of introducing eSim, said the curator of the working group “Svyaz and IT” of the expert council under the government Irina Levova, who was at the meeting. According to her, the position of the “big three” is not yet completely negative.

The fact that the FSB is working on the concept of encrypting traffic using Russian cryptography, it became known in early April. The State Duma Committee prepared the necessary amendments to the bill on autonomous runet.

A digital SIM-card allows you to abandon the physical analog (nanoSIM) and switch between operators – without visiting the communications salon, signing written contracts and checking passports. The technology works in 24 countries. Apple has added it to the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. It is also embedded in the Google Pixel, Apple, Samsung and Huawei smart watches, as well as Apple and Microsoft Surface tablets. Already in 2018, Russian operators expressed concerns about loss of revenue and conservative legislation.

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