Pros and Cons of eSIM for International Travelers

By Telecom Tech Outlook | Thursday, January 23, 2020

Connected devices play a major role in this scenario as mobile penetration tops 67 percent of the global population, and currently, there are 1 billion travelers who carry at least one connected device with them.

FREMONT, CA: Online travel agencies, consumer-centric services, shared lodging, and low-cost airlines have made international travel more affordable, economical, convenient, and accessible than ever before. UNWTO predicts that international tourist arrivals will exceed 1.8 billion by 2030, which in 2018 was 1.4 billion. Connected devices play a major role in this scenario as mobile penetration tops 67 percent of the global population, and currently, there are 1 billion travelers who carry at least one connected device with them. Be it a smartphone, a tablet, wearable, or any such connected device; they are useless without internet connectivity, especially cellular data. From accessing digital maps, GPS, mobile banking, social media to browsing apps, everything needs internet connectivity.

Now there is a big question: Do the travelers use their cellular data for internet connectivity? A big NO. Though the newest industrial revolution keeps expanding, the majority of international travelers turn off their cellular data roaming, as it is expensive. At some places, travelers don't get a local SIM card or the second device, and they end up using public Wi-Fi provided either by their local hotel or the nearby coffee shop. Undoubtedly, Wi-Fi is the only complementary to cellular data for an always-connected lifestyle, especially for international travelers who seek unique experience on every trip. With cloud computing and the explosion of mobile applications, data connectivity has become a vital gateway to valuable experiences. Whether to find a ride to the airport or search for top-rated or top-visited restaurants, one needs two things: a mobile application and internet connectivity. Hence the dependence on public Wi-Fi has increased substantially. This lands into another question: Are the public Wi-Fi safe and secure? The public Wi-Fi comes with some fundamental issues like limited security, reliability, and coverage. A report estimates that over a quarter of public Wi-Fi hotspots don't use any encryption and, thus, expose users to eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

Keeping the risks associated with public Wi-Fi in mind, the need for inexpensive and easily accessible cellular data is always top on-demand by international travelers. Thankfully eSIM or the consumer embedded-SIM could provide them all. An eSIM is a cellular connectivity module, standardized by GSMA and comes in-built with devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and smartwatches. The eSIM enables these devices to digitally get cellular connectivity from various cellular networks without the need to change physical SIM. The connectivity can be activated by scanning a QR code or through an application in just 30-40 seconds. The eSIM-enabled devices are already on the rise and have crossed the mark of 250 million by the end of 2019. It is expected that by the end of 2021, the devices will reach 1 billion, and with that, the eSIM could become a standard feature just like other connectivity features like Bluetooth.

Looking at the other side, eSIM brings some disadvantages too with it. With the availability of both the slots i.e., main SIM and eSIM, the battery life of the device tends to be a bit shorter when both are turned on together. eSIM is currently built into pricey premium devices, so average travelers looking for affordable trips may not find it economical to buy such devices and have to wait until a wide range of such devices is available in the market. Financing such a device won't resolve the issue as the home carrier may solely lock the connectivity service until the installments are fully paid off.

Ignoring the cons mentioned above, eSIM has everything that international travelers look for connectivity while on the trip. With the eSIM module, they can get cellular data that is both convenient and affordable, with almost no security threats, and exclusively restricted to home carrier service. Travelers can have unlimited access to mobile data and utilize the amazing applications to find the best ride or the best beach and post insta-worthy pictures in social media. eSIM can take the travel experiences to new heights with equally hitting the pocket of the travelers.

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