MIIT: Chinese smartphones are expected to adopt eSIMs in the future
Chinese article by 何海琼
English Editor 张未名
09-20 10:02

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on September 15 that China is studying the application and promotion of eSIM technology for tablets, portable computers and smartphones and will expand its application scope when conditions are ripe, reported Pandaily on September 16.

An eSIM, or “embedded-SIM”, is directly embedded in a device’s chip, and is not an independent or removable component. This month, Apple released its new iPhone 14 series. In contrast with the Chinese version, the US version of the iPhone 14 no longer has a SIM card slot, and replaces it with an eSIM. Besides, Chinese telecommunications operators do not yet support eSIM services for smartphones, said the Pandaily report.

So Chinese web users have raised questions to MIIT, with one asking, “Recently, the use of eSIM technology has caused more discussion. Is there a promotion plan for eSIM-supported smartphones in China?”

MIIT replied on September 15 that it “attaches great importance to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, and actively promotes the application and promotion of new technologies and equipment on the basis of ensuring the rights and interests of users and information security.” At present, MIIT is organizing relevant departments to study the application and promotion of eSIM technology for tablets, portable computers and smartphones. It will expand the application scope of eSIM technology when conditions are ripe.”

As of October 2020, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, the country’s three top telecommunications operators, were all approved by the MIIT to carry out eSIM technology application services in the field of Internet of Things (IoT).

According the approval documents, the firms can carry out eSIM technology application services only in data services and related directed voice and SMS services. Only the three operators’ self-owned channels can use eSIM technology, and cooperation with other enterprises to provide related services must be applied separately.

Moreover, a development plan for China’s telecommunications industry issued by the MIIT at the end of 2021, corresponding with the country’s official 14th Five-Year Plan, mentions that it is necessary to “promote the application of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, edge computing, eSIMs, advanced computing, and quantum computing. China aims to deepen the expansion of new technologies and services in vertical industries and fields,” said Pandaily in the report.

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