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  • European Carriers Threaten "War" Over Built-in SIM

    Apple's (as yet unconfirmed) plans to make an iPhone with a built-in, programmable SIM chip is getting a strong push-back from European carriers who would have the most to lose from the shift away from physical SIMs. The Financial Times of London reports that carriers are saying Apple may provoke a "war" if they pursue this technology, and that they may decide to just stop offering iPhone subsidies in protest. Meanwhile, the industry group representing carriers is working on its own embedded SIM.

    As we reported a few weeks ago, Apple is said to be working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to make a programmable SIM-on-a-chip that would let consumers buy a phone directly from Apple and activate it with the carrier of their choice via iTunes. This worries European carriers, who recognize all too clearly that this built-in SIM would make them no more than service providers, and potentially ending the lucrative multi-year contracts that have been most iPhone carriers' bread and butter. The FT story quotes a senior executive at an unnamed European telecom as saying this could lead to a "war" between operators and Apple, and that Vodafone in the UK, France Telecom and Telefónica in Spain are "privately saying" they may refuse to subsidize the iPhone if it uses the built-in SIM. Given that the unsubsidized iPhone 4 16GB costs $599, and the unsubsidized 32GB costs $699, sales would plummet. Robin Bienenstock, an analyst at Bernstein, told the FT that iPhone sales worldwide could fall by "up to 12 per cent" if carriers cut subsidies.

    Nevertheless, embedded SIMs are looking more and more like the wave of the future for mobile devices. The GSM Association - the largest trade organization for carriers and phone manufacturers - announced on Thursday that they're developing their own standard for an embedded SIM. A task force of technical experts from AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom Orange, KT, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone will work with SIM manufacturers on the technology, which they claim will be ready to ship by 2012. In addition to providing "e-wallet" and other Near Field Communications (NFC) capabilities to mobile phones, the embedded SIM would also allow devices like cameras and GPS navigators to get online.

    Source: Electronista
    This article was originally published in forum thread: European Carriers Threaten "War" Over Built-in SIM started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 38 Comments
    1. \m/ibnziceman\m/'s Avatar
      \m/ibnziceman\m/ -
      this would honestly suck for customers that, if for some reason, they needed to switch to a backup phone. with built-in SIM you would have to go to your carrier and have them switch your number to a different phone instead of being able to do it yourself
    1. hammerhals's Avatar
      hammerhals -
      Quote Originally Posted by ShredNasty View Post
      I bet apple is s-s-shaking in their boots. Voda who? They'll shut up and be happy that iPhones exist and find a way to remain profitable. To force the euronazis to stop the 3 year contract bs is awesome for consumers.
      are you a general idiot?
      rest is right.
    1. GmAz's Avatar
      GmAz -
      Quote Originally Posted by staterunner180 View Post
      I don't understand why this would affect sales for the phone. People buy unsubsidized iPhones from Apple all the time and put their own SIM cards in. The carriers could still sell subsidized iPhones at a lower price and people would still buy them. The only reason to buy an unsubsidized iPhone would be if you wanted to use it on a carrier not officially supported, such as T-Mobile.
      No ****, and thats the problem. If you can't put your own sim card in the phone, its useless and can't be used on other carriers. So if you buy a phone outright, no subsidy, it still needs to be used on the network you bought it from.
    1. jokerg7's Avatar
      jokerg7 -
      I would hate a built in sim. If u buy from one carrier you can't unlock and change the SIM for overseas!
    1. Mes's Avatar
      Mes -
      I could care less about the carriers ......

      This is potentially a MAJOR BLOW to you and me -- the consumer.

      With an bedded SIM, it will be more difficult for consumers to make quick and easy carrier changes and much easier for Apple to lock us out!!
    1. Dragonx151's Avatar
      Dragonx151 -
      Well, so far as I've heard, apple has abandoned it's plans for an embedded sim, but who really knows, apple does things at the last minute sometimes without anyone even knowing about it..this could b one of those times just to shut the carrier exces up
    1. z6joker9's Avatar
      z6joker9 -
      If they go with embedded sims, I will switch to a different phone, period.
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      I wouldn't like the unsubsidized part at all, would have wait longer to get the phone
    1. thevmax's Avatar
      thevmax -
      Quote Originally Posted by StealthBravo View Post
      It would sweet if you could program several carriers on one sim and then choose provider from settings
      Now... that IS thinking outside the box!
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      The iphone 4 is still selling strong at 600-1000 locked or unlocked on the bay, so people will pay whatever to be cool.
    1. Mes's Avatar
      Mes -
      ^Sure is ... as long as I get to choose which ones, including non-Apple-authorized carriers.
    1. Orby's Avatar
      Orby -
      As long as it would be possible to manually input your ICCID into the phone, either legitimately or through our nefarious methods, I see no major P.I.T.A. in an embedded SIM as opposed to a removable card.

      Now why the carriers are kvetching so much is beyond me, especially if ability to change ICCID (and therefore networks) is severely limited by Apple, even if the unit is factory unlocked.

      Unless they're afraid people will use other people's ICCIDs/IMSIs and rack up illicit charges/steal other's communiqués.
    1. Rob2G's Avatar
      Rob2G -
      Built in sims = crap. If I wanted to have to go through reprograming my phone every time I swapped handsets I would of stayed with sprint.
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      All this is going to do is drive everyone to prepaid plans. People will stop getting subsidized phones and the Carriers will lose. That is what they are worried about.
    1. blissfulight's Avatar
      blissfulight -
      Carriers don't want to subsidize phones, because they have to front the money to Apple. They don't want to have stores, because that costs money. And they're developing their own integrated SIM, so they're essentially doing what Apple is doing. They just want their monthly fee for providing lousy service, too expensive and always limited text messages/minutes/data. I still haven't figured out what they're squawking about, because no matter what they do, they'll end up being the stupid data pipes they've always been. Granted, giving Apple yet more control to close the system is never a good thing (the obsession with trying to remove all the screws has gotta stop).
    1. ShredNasty's Avatar
      ShredNasty -
      Quote Originally Posted by z6joker9 View Post
      If they go with embedded sims, I will switch to a different phone, period.
      Why? I don't know what you'd lose with imbedded sims in Mississippi, and I don't know what you'd gain by going elsewhere. It would completely be your loss.
    1. Tario70's Avatar
      Tario70 -
      It's a good thing it looks like Apple has backed off from this. Not sure why this story hasn't been posted on the main page considering I read it the other day...


      AppleInsider | Carriers' threats force Apple to abandon embedded iPhone SIM plans

      So no worries people.
    1. Ibkoool's Avatar
      Ibkoool -
      What about the fact that we would all have to tell Apple, through iTunes, what we are doing with THEIR iPhones?