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eSIM Adoption in Singapore – Which Telcos Offer eSIM Services?

Goh Jun Cheng

Updated on:

eSIM or embedded SIM is an emerging digital SIM technology for cellular connectivity. But which telcos support eSIM services in Singapore so far?

This article examines the availability and roadmap of eSIM across the major Singapore telcos.

Introducing eSIM Technology

Traditional physical SIM cards slot into phones to connect mobile networks. eSIM provides the same subscriber identity digitally without a physical card.

Key benefits of eSIM include:

  • Remote provisioning of connectivity without needing to swap physical SIM cards
  • Ability to activate multiple network profiles on one device
  • More secure as users can’t remove eSIM to swap phones
  • Saves space from eliminating SIM card slot with integration into device

However, eSIM is still maturing with gradual adoption by smartphone brands. Its availability in Singapore remains limited currently.

Singtel eSIM Offerings

As Singapore’s largest telco, Singtel has been an early mover on eSIM technology locally:

  • Singtel launched its eSIM service for certain iPhone models in 2020
  • At first, eSIM was only offered to Singapore postpaid mobile customers
  • Later in 2022, Singtel expanded eSIM access to Singapore pre-paid customers as well
  • Currently, eSIM for Singtel post-paid supports iPhone XS/XR models and newer
  • For pre-paid, eSIM works on iPhone 13, 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22 series and newer
  • Singtel’s eSIM rollout focuses on latest phones with native eSIM integration
  • Enabling eSIM on existing SIM-based mobile lines also involves a conversion process

StarHub eSIM Availability

StarHub has followed behind Singtel on eSIM availability:

  • StarHub activated eSIM support on its network in 2021
  • It is offered to both StarHub postpaid and prepaid customers
  • Supported device models are more limited compared to Singtel
  • Currently, only iPhone 14, iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 work with StarHub eSIM
  • For existing subscribers, physical SIM must be switched to a new eSIM profile by contacting StarHub
  • Availability still lags Singtel but should improve over time with more models

M1 eSIM Status

M1 completed commercial trials of eSIM functionality on its network in 2021. However, it has not launched any commercial eSIM services yet unlike Singtel and StarHub.

As the last major telco to roll out 5G services as well, M1 often lags in new technology adoption. Therefore, eSIM availability on M1 remains uncertain and awaits future announcements.

MVNOs/ISPs with eSIM Access

Besides the main telcos, some smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and internet service providers leverage the telco networks to offer eSIM:

  • Circles.Life introduced eSIM for its subscribers in 2020 leveraging the M1 network
  • Zero1 offers eSIM activation for compatible devices using the Singtel network
  • Other niche SIM-only mobile brands like Giga may follow suit with eSIM based on host networks

But access again depends on suitable devices like iPhones. Adoption is gradual among MVNOs too.

Challenges Hindering eSIM Adoption

Several factors currently constrain wider eSIM availability in Singapore:

  • spotty eSIM support across many Android brands unlike iPhones which readily support eSIM
  • complexity of provisioning eSIM remotely while ensuring security
  • re-engineering back-end systems and processes designed originally for physical SIM cards
  • lack of eSIM standards across many countries unlike protocols for physical SIMs

But with eSIM inclusion rising in new phones, availability should keep improving with time.

Potential Future Applications

Beyond basic connectivity, eSIM technology offers additional future possibilities:

  • Multi network profiles on one device for separate numbers, data plans, roaming etc.
  • Quick activation of new cellular plans remotely without waiting for SIM delivery
  • Secure connectivity for Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices leveraging cellular instead of WiFi
  • More advanced dual SIM functionality combining physical SIM and eSIM

Conclusion

In summary, eSIM services are still in their early stages in Singapore with Singtel taking the lead in rollouts so far. But with more 5G devices integrating eSIM capabilities, availability and innovation around eSIM technology will continue expanding over the next few years as a convenient digital alternative to physical SIM cards.

1 thought on “eSIM Adoption in Singapore – Which Telcos Offer eSIM Services?”

  1. Singtel keeps insisting that no eSIM service is available for postpaid mobile customers as of 19 Dec 2023. Multiple online reps as well as the reps on 1688 (their support number) insist that they only provide eSIM service for Apple Watches. So somebody has their facts wrong…

    Reply

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