Vodacom OneNumber paves the way for eSIM market

Tech news: Wireless connection among devices now as fast as connecting to Wi-Fi with Vodacom eSIM support service in South Africa


AFTER a rather painstakingly slow start to the introduction of the embedded SIM (eSIM) in South Africa, Vodacom finally announced it is ready to launch the service in the coming days.

To bring the eSIM support service – called OneNumber – up to speed, the mobile operator has partnered with Samsung to enable the built-in SIM on the LTE Galaxy Watch. This means that customers will be able to make calls, read emails, maintain data connections and even access applications, from the watch without having to take their phones with them.

The eSIM embedded Galaxy LTE Watch 42mm and 46mm eSIM variants will be exclusively available through Vodacom and can be linked to the OneNumber. “We are excited to announce that we are ready to give our customers this game changing technology. Together with our technology partner, Samsung, we worked around the clock to ensure a smooth experience for all our customers and to keep them connected whenever they go. We are also proud to stock the first eSIM wearable device in South Africa, underscoring our quest to be the first to deliver innovations to benefit our customers,” said Jorge Mendes, chief officer of Vodacom Consumer Business Unit.

About OneNumber

Another step forward towards supporting the development of the IoT (Internet of Things), as well the Multi-Device Experience (MDE) market , the service allows customers to use a single mobile number across multiple devices such as smartwatches, tablets, additional phoned or even their cars to connect to the Vodacom network. All linked devices will consume data, SMS and voice bundles from the primary account. 

“This is particularly useful for fitness enthusiasts, who can now leave their handheld devices behind and remain confidently connected to the Vodacom network using eSIM enabled wearables as they go about their fitness routine, such as running, cycling or hitting the gym,” Vodacom said.

Fitness enthusiasts can leave their phones behind and remain connected to using eSIM enabled Galaxy Watch

What is an eSIM anyway

eSIM is an electronic, or embedded SIM. Instead of a physical card, the technology is built right into your phone in the form of a small chip used to authenticate your identity with your carrier.

With the eSIM card, you don’t have to order a new number if you are traveling overseas. Instead, you can switch to a new carrier and manage account straight from your phone. The technology is backed by the GSMA, a trade body representing more than 800 network operators worldwide, including South Africa. With the growth of physical SIM card shipments projected to slow, the eSIM market is projected to increase by 1billion by 2021.

Although eSIMs have been in existence in Europe, US and Australia for a few years now, the move will hopefully encourage a broader adoption of the technology by other South African mobile operators, and even have it incorporated into smartphones.

Google Pixel 2 was reportedly the world’s  first phones to support eSIM technology in 2017 and was followed by the iPhone Xs in 2018.

Benefits of eSIM

For consumers; in addition to improved customer experience with greater flexibility, one of the main benefits of eSIM is the reduced costs of connected devices.

For mobile network operators; it can improve productivity as things like SIM handling, integration, as well as handling costs are significantly reduced.

For suppliers; As Don Tait, technology analyst at IHS Markit previously advised, for suppliers the introduction of eSIM will introduce new market opportunities in IoT, M2M and the connected car, along with potential revenue increase given the higher cost of eSIM over the physical cards.

Pricing and availability 

If this revolutionary product delights the Steve Job in you, and you’d like to give it a go, visit the Vodafone store, or place your order of the Galaxy Watch via Vodacom online store. The are two variables, the 42mm and 46mm watches, priced at R5,999 and R6,299 respectively.

As an add on to your S10 range device, you can alternatively get the Galaxy Watch for R199 per month over 24 months. A R98  once-off connection fee will be applicable to the e-SIM service upon successful activation, while an additional R25 monthly recurring value-added services.