The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has released guidelines allowing the use of embedded SIM cards in-built in devices. e-SIM uses a software to provide the services that a SIM card does, making it a virtual variant of the physical card.

How this will work

The e-SIM will come preinstalled when a device is purchased. Details of the telecom service provider can simply be updated while purchasing a new connection. Similarly, when a customer wants to port to a different service provider, they can do so without changing the physical SIM card and just updating details. This is likely to ease the process of porting.

“To cater the needs of modern technological developments in M2M/IoT, it has been decided to permit the use of “Embedded-Subscriber Identity Module (eSIM) with both single and multiple profile configurations with over the air subscription update facility, as the case may be, as per prevailing global specifications and standards,” the DoT said in a circular.

Timing

Notably, the order comes just days after the sale of Apple Watch Series 3 began in India, in partnership with Airtel and Jio. The said device uses an e-SIM technology. The two telcos also sparred over the use of this technology, after Jio claimed that Airtel hasn’t installed an eSIM provisioning node within India, calling it a “gross violation to the license terms” and complained to the DoT. Airtel, in response, had rubbished the claims.

In October last year, China had suspended the cellular connection in the Apple Watch Series 3, which is also the first watch from the tech company to use LTE wireless connectivity. While the Chinese government did not give any official reason for the suspension, analysists suspected that it was because e-SIMs are harder to track in the surveillance system.

M2M Communication

In the same circular, the DoT also said that companies using SIM cards for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, must follow KYC norms. M2M communication forms the basis of Internet of Things (IoT) where communication happens without human interference and devices like smart metres, self driving cars, remote surveillance mechanisms use it.

The circular also said that if the M2M SIM is embedded while manufacturing, making it difficult to know the end user, the telecom service provider will have to follow the KYC norms used for bulk issuing of SIM cards.

DoT said that the company providing M2M services will have to submit the names and addresses of buyers through an online interface. At the same time, existing connections will have to be made compliant within six months.

In the circular, the DoT has increased the total number of connections one user can have to 18. Of these, 9 SIMs for normal mobile connections (which was the previous limit), in addition to 9 more SIMs can be purchased for M2M communications.