eSIMs. Telstra has offered them since 2018, and on its eSIM page notes they are a "digital SIM technology available on compatible devices", where the electronic SIM is built onto the motherboard of the phone or tablet, and can be activated without needing to put a physical SIM in the device.
Telstra says that you "simply download your eSIM profile using a QR code" provided by Telstra, and it will connect you to the Telstra mobile network."
Given that many phones now have an eSIM and a physical SIM slot, you can use both - say, one for work and one for a home number, or you can have your personal SIM activated as an eSIM, and then when you travel overseas (whenever we can do that again), you can put in a local SIM and enjoy the benefits of inexpensive mobile roaming while having a local number and local wherever you travel.
Alternatively you can have a second physical SIM with someone like felix mobile on the Vodafone network, which for $35 per 30 days gives you unlimited calls and texts in Australia, with unlimited 4G capped at 20Mbps speeds, or you can have two different networks on the same phone, so if one provider has an outage, like all telcos occasionally do, you still have access to calling and data from one of the two providers.
The cheapest Optus MVNO is Catch Connect, which has unlimited calls and text with 4GB of data per 30 days for just $9, so there's plenty of inexpensive choice when it comes to choosing a second SIM, or you can put in a Boost SIM on the Telstra network for awesome coverage if you’re with a different provider and you activate the eSIM on that network.
In any case, Telstra points to analysts predicting that "90% of devices will be eSIM enabled by 2025," meaning there is a huge opportunity.
So, what are the details of Telstra's MVNO partners being able to enable their customers to use and activate the eSIM in their devices?
Again, Telstra reminds us that this is an "Australian first," and that "Telstra Wholesale announced it has enabled eSIM activation for its Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) customers who wish to take advantage of the technology to create simple, digital-first activation experiences for their customers using the latest eSIM enabled handsets."
In parallel to eSIMs being available in ever more phones, Telstra says "it is expected that eSIM will be adopted for other ‘internet of things’ devices which benefit from a mobile connection. Already in this category are several wrist watches that support mobile calling and data connectivity using eSIM."
Of course, anyone with a cellular-enabled Apple Watch has been using eSIMs for years, with the ability to have that watch and your iPhone sharing the same physical number, which for me at least, is a wonderful thing.
Glenn Osborne, a Telstra Wholesale Segment and Sales Executive said: "Telstra Wholesale is thrilled to offer this Australian first product for its customers. This eSIM activation capability for mobile handsets is a first for Wholesale mobile virtual network operators and will help to improve customer experience and facilitate an easier choice of providers in the Australian market.”
“eSIM can make activation of a mobile service very simple and much more immediate. Using a QR code to start the activation process, means that process can literally start wherever you can place a 2D image and a connection to the internet. It could be on a bus, while reading a magazine, or wherever is most convenient for the customer.
"This means, by creating and being able to more specifically promote offers, Telstra Wholesale MVNOs can attract new customers more effectively in their target segments,” Osborne concluded
Presumably, this will make Telstra's partner Boost, and Boost's CEO Peter Adderton, very happy, as he called for carriers to allow MVNOs to access eSIMs way back in 2018, as iTWire wrote about at the time, so we'll definitely be watching this area with great interest and hope eSIMs come to all Australian MVNOs from all carriers sooner rather than later.