eSIM will soon shake up the mobile telco world. So, be prepared!

Mathieu Horn
August 1, 2022
5G has been dominating the telco buzz over the last few years. Sure, it brings more capacity, and smarter management of the bandwidth, but what is really going to shake up mobile operators is a tiny piece of plastic, or rather, its disappearance.

The SIM card has been the foundation of the GSM industry and has been with us for so long we tend to forget about it. But when you think of it, it’s been put at the center of most key business processes of a mobile operator. The whole customer experience is built around making sure the properly provisioned SIM makes it to your phone with the right number on it. From the shopping experience in physical stores to the online signup experience to the number portability, all those bits and pieces of processes are designed around the physical journey of the SIM card.

But the eSIM is blowing all those processes up and it poses a massive problem to the mobile operators who are left with the daunting tasks of redesigning all of their key onboarding processes in an eSIM era.

The eSIM promises that it’s replacing the familiar gesture of inserting one’s SIM that we have picked up in a store in his phone to a tiny bit of automatic configuration at the end of the signup process that you can do straight from your smartphone. But operators are not designed to handle that logic.All their digitalization efforts have been geared towards providing a self-care app to their customers, not to manage a full signup experience from the app that just finishes with the download of the eSIM profile.

To give operators more time to adjust, the brilliant idea of a QR code has been introduced that helps save the day. For now…

But let’s face it, it’s a quirky experience. At best, once you’ve signed up for an eSIM compatible plan from the comfort of your sofa, you are left with flashing, with your camera phone, a QR code you’ve just received on the very same device. But that’s if you are in luck, some operators, will make you come down to a shop, wait in line, speak to a sales agent, just to flash that precious QR code! No wonder customers stay baffled by this so-called “seamless” experience.

The real solution is indeed to fully redesign all the operator processes from the ground up with the eSIM in mind. Because, like it or not, it will be the default standard in 3 years, a much shorter time range than most of the larger IT transformation projects. GSMA estimates that by 2025, 40% of the smartphones installed based will be eSIM enabled, that’s 2.5 billion devices!

The SIM is the last physical link that ties you to the operator

You can buy your smartphone from Amazon, you can sign up to your operator online, even perform efficient eKYC by scanning an ID and taking a selfie picture to authenticate a person much more efficiently than in a store, you will still be waiting for the SIM card to be delivered and in need of activation. Take it out of the equation, the process changes completely: the operator app becomes the first entry point for the prospects. It needs to be able to handle the full signup experience for a prospect, not just log a customer in. It needs to be processed in real-time. What’s the point of being able to subscribe in less than 2 minutes, eKYC included, to download the eSIM profile instantly at the end of the sign-up if your line is not activated immediately and you need to wait for some batch process to kick in during the night?

The eSIM challenge

The technical challenge of the eSIM does not lie in setting up an eSIM-compatible carrier app, but in turning around the BSS processes and all the orchestration that comes with them to adapt to the immediacy of the eSIM.

You could try to overhaul their legacy to succeed, but how do you turn a batch-heavy postpaid BSS into a real-time machine? How do you move away from massively pre-activated prepaid SIMs? There is a much simpler way and faster way to get the job done.

triPica is a new generation of SaaS BSS that helps operators become a startup again. Our real-time, micro-services platform, modeled around the TM-Forum API definition is the solution to natively solve the eSIM challenge and help operators leapfrog the competition by embracing the eSIM disruption.

Find out more about how triPica can help reinvent your model with our BSS for Telecom.

Mathieu Horn

CEO at triPica

15 years of Telco experience in France including SFR and Joe mobile (digital MVNO) ESSEC & INSEAD