eSIM in Ukraine: why the technology attracts subscribers and who needs it

This technology is already working in 90 countries around the world. Every month the number of operators who are ready to implement it increases. Soon, eSIM will become commonplace, significantly replacing external SIM cards.

The technology “came” to Ukraine at the end of 2019. Recently, Kyivstar joined the operators that provide their customers with the opportunity to refuse physical SIM cards. The operator has launched a service to switch to eSIM for the largest category of its customers – prepaid subscribers.

According to Kyivstar, every month the number of smartphones and other gadgets that support eSIM in the operator’s network is growing. At the beginning of 2020 there were 150,000 of them , and now there are already more than 400,000. Why is the new format of SIM cards growing in popularity in our country? What benefits will users receive? Are there any disadvantages to the technology? I found answers to these and other questions .

What is eSIM?

This is a small chip, approximately 5×5 mm in size, which performs the functions of a SIM card. It is built into a smartphone, tablet, watch or other gadget at the production stage. This SIM card is irreplaceable; it is simply programmed to work with various operators.

The subscriber receives a set of encrypted digital data, which the smartphone “writes” to the eSIM. Most often, the information is encrypted in the form of a QR code with a link to download the subscriber profile.

You can install one or more profiles from different operators on the chip without additional slots and cards. You can also use a regular SIM card and an eSIM with different phone numbers in parallel. But during a call to the SIM card, the eSIM will be out of range. As in conventional “dual SIM” phones: when one SIM card is used to make a call, the second may not be available. This happens because modern smartphones use only one radio module.

What is the built-in SIM card for?

For comfort. You no longer need to have separate phones or SIM cards for your personal and work numbers; linking to bank accounts and making payments. You also don’t have to buy or store cards from foreign operators from trip to trip;

No more shopping and searching for the starter package you want.. You don't even need to leave your home to get a new phone number.. No trips to stores, communication with managers, or expenditure of effort to replace one card with another. All this can be done remotely: just order an electronic voucher and scan the QR code.

Kyivstar has found a way to further simplify the procedure for switching to eSIM for its clients, reducing the number of actions to a few clicks in the “My Kyivstar” application.

An average of five phone numbers can be loaded onto one eSIM. But only one of them will be active at a time — at the user’s choice. The subscriber can also switch between them with a few clicks.

For greater safety. Built-in SIM card is an integral part of the smartphone. If the phone is lost or stolen, the card can be easily blocked, and the number can be restored and used on another device.

To increase the functionality of your phone. The absence of a slot for a physical SIM card frees up space in the device, which the manufacturer can use to install, for example, larger batteries. Plus, the fewer holes, the more protected the phone will be from dust and moisture.

Who is interested in eSIM?

For those who value mobility and functionality. eSIM significantly expands opportunities for the development of the Internet of Things. It can become a technological solution that will allow, through one smartphone, to control, collect and analyze data on those areas of life where at least something can be automated.

Around one eSIM you can build up an entire ecosystem of different devices: tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, houses or even cars. All this will work to optimize the owner’s life and will not depend on the strength (or availability) of the Wi-Fi signal.

For those who love freedom. All the benefits of eSIM free up a lot of time and space in the subscriber’s life. He does not waste time and effort searching for a communication salon, communicating with managers and does not wait in line to get the desired service. The subscriber is not tied to a large number of SIM cards or phones. Plus, it's not tied to the phone at all. Soon it will be possible to go for a run with a smart watch and receive calls or messages with eSIM through it. However, for now it is not possible to install an eSIM on every smartwatch: the operator can guarantee the correct operation of the built-in SIM card only if the device is certified in Ukraine.

However, using this technology gives freedom. So much so that some – totalitarian-prone – countries have established at the legislative level quite strict rules for the use of eSIM. Mainly because it is unclear how the state can regulate, control and identify subscribers. For example, China does not recognize this technology at all. Russia, after a short ban on the sale of eSIM, nevertheless allowed it, but only after the subscriber registered in the salon with a passport.

How to use the built-in map correctly?

Almost the same as normal. The subscriber number remains the same. The replenishment procedure is also no different: money can be “reset” through the USSD menu, Internet banking, terminals or an online card.

You can activate the service in two ways: if the user is a Kyivstar subscriber, simply replace your regular SIM with an eSIM profile in the “My Kyivstar” application, without additional QR scans.

If you need to connect a new number, then in the Kyivstar online store you need to select and pay for one of the tariffs with eSIM: “Spilkuvannya without inter”, “Rozvagi without inter”, “Video without inter”. After this, you will receive an email with connection instructions.

How much does it cost to switch to eSIM?

The cost of replacing your existing SIM card with an eSIM depends on the operator. In “Vodafone Ukraine” the transition costs 100 UAH, lifecell – from 70 UAH, “TriMob” – from 150 UAH. Kyivstar offers its customers to switch from a physical card to a built-in one at no additional cost. The service is already included in three tariffs: “Spilkuvannya without intermediary”, “Rozvagi without intermediary”, “Video without intermediary”.

Is everything really that perfect?

Almost. eSIM does have a few drawbacks.

Firstly, as we have already mentioned, of all the virtual numbers “recorded” on the chip, only one can be active.

Secondly, not all devices and operators support eSIM technology. For now.

Today, devices with eSIM are produced by Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Google and others.

This is what the list of devices that support eSIM now looks like: