Translated by
2020/07/31 14:28:06

eSIM (Embedded SIM) Electronic sim card

The module which is built in the tablet, the smartphone or the smartwatch and replacing a normal sim card. It allows to connect the device purchased in shop to a cellular network, without departing from a counter. It is not necessary to buy the physical SIM card – it is possible to select from the menu of the device the operator and a rate and to use services


SIM card

Main article SIM card Subscriber identity module

ESIM technology

Standard Mini and Micro-sim perform functions of the unique identifier allowing the subscriber to be registered in networks of the operator. Use new rates, save on roaming, replace the operator — the functions requiring purchase and installation in the gadget of a new piece of plastic[1].

At the same time the sim card is capable to open access to Network and in an electronic format. Obtaining remotely information, the user loads settings of the specific operator for the "sim card" which is built in the phone. First of all technologies of remote identification will influence the organization of sales process of a sim card: the subscriber will not need to come to office of the operator, registration procedure and connections will pass through the Internet. Over time it will inevitably lead to significant reduction of retail.

For cellular operators implementation of eSIM will simplify interaction with subscribers and will increase access to communication services. However replacement of the physical plastic card by electronic will facilitate to the user and the procedure of change of the operator. It will be possible to switch to a profitable rate of the competitor, without leaving the house. Therefore cellular operators will treat more attentively the clients and to try to keep even stronger them in the base.

Implementation of eSIM in the world will also change a consumption pattern of communication services in roaming. The subscribers purchasing a sim card in the country of residence will be able to be connected to the local operator far off. The tourist should not look for sales offices on the card or to express in unfamiliar language for purchase. It is enough to scan the QR code or to make couple of clicks.

In general technologies of remote identification will cost cheaper. Operators should not spend money for production of sim cards which cost can be from 60 rubles depending on the size, opportunities of the chip, type of networks. Only in Russia in a year about 100 million "sim cards" are on sale. Economic effect will be notable, not to mention an ecological component when the world gets rid of the mass of unnecessary plastic.

Virtual sim cards will also give to subscribers the new opportunities simplifying use of communication services of the operator. Connection to the operator or change of the failed card still require a visit of office. Besides after the subscriber not the most pleasant installation process of "sim card" in the gadget waits.

The electronic sim card excludes need of any movements and visits to the operator, and on reliability much exceeds the physical analog which can fail or be spoiled at the time of installation in the device. There is no difference between use by eSIM and the physical map. Even in the menu of the smartphone display will be similar. But it is more difficult to crack and forge virtual cards. The chip replacing normal "sim card" is located in the device on an assembly stage. At installation or change of the electronic card the subscriber will have to be linked with the operator who will see all "history" of the device. Thus, will provide to the state of technology of remote identification more careful control of use of the stolen and "gray" mobile phones which are illegally imported into the country.


demanded the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications from operators certification of the biometric systems for sale of eSIIM

At the end of July, 2020 the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications was demanded from telecommunication companies by obtaining certificates from    the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEC) and  the Federal Security Service (FSS) for the system of biometric identification which is used for  remote sale of electronic sim cards (eSIM).

This requirement was read at the meeting on implementation of eSIM technology which took place on July 24, 2020, Kommersant with reference to two sources which were present on this an action writes. It was seen off by the Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Oleg Ivanov who said that start of the systems of operators was not approved with the ministry, and for identification of subscribers they need to be connected to the Single Biometric System (SBS) developed by Rostelecom.

The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications was demanded from telecommunication companies by obtaining certificates from the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control (FSTEC) and the Federal Security Service (FSS) for the system of biometric identification which is used for remote sale of electronic sim cards

As Ivanov reported the newspaper, the ministry considers that for use of the systems of biometric identification of operators it is necessary to certify them, EBS conforms to the existing requirements for information security.

Besides, according to the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, for identification when using eSIM will be rather simple electronic signature on condition of confirmation of information about the subscriber using the Unified identification and authentication system (Unified identification and authentication system) and EBS.

The representatives of operators who were present at a meeting asked to consider the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications the possibility of a transient period during which EBS will develop and increase the number of users, and business could use the developments.

Certification will be not guarantee of security, and a necessary minimum, the technical director of Qrator Labs Artem Gavrichenkov considers. He reminds that mobile operators repeatedly got to incidents when, for example, in cellular shops at the person "took away" a sim card and then used it for theft of money from bank accounts.[2]

Rossvyaz for 15 million rubles will develop the plan of implementation of eSIM

On March 31, 2020 the Federal Communications Agency (Rossvyaz) announced the tender for development of the concept of use of eSIM technology in Russia. The maximum cost of the contract is 15 million rubles. Read more here.

"Tinkoff" began to sell virtual SIM cards. Connection happens far off

On March 18, 2020 "Tinkoff of Mobile" announced the beginning of sales of virtual SIM cards — eSIM. Connection happens far off, and I can use service only clients of the Tinkoff group.  Within the first week new subscribers of the operator can call and use the Internet also free of charge. Read more here.

Legalization of eSIM in Russia is postponed because of unreliable remote identification

On February 6, 2020 it became known of postponement of legalization of eSIM technology in Russia. The reason — unreliable remote  identification in such SIM cards.

The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications indicated the need to postpone preparation of the documents necessary for implementation of eSIM until the end of 2020. Department had to prepare offers on legal regulation till January 15 of the 2020th, Kommersant with reference to the report of the Minister of Communications Konstantin Noskov holding a position to at that time Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov sent to the government at the end of 2019 writes. 

] The ministry of digital development, communication and mass communications of the Russian Federation asked to postpone preparation of the documents necessary for implementation of eSIM until the end of 2020

As reported in the document, a problem for  implementation of eSIM technology is a biometric system which was offered by operators for  remote identification of subscribers. It still is out of  the legal framework, besides, the level of its security which can be lower, than, for example, at  the electronic signature raises questions.

The Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Oleg Ivanov reminded the edition of the state system of collecting of biometric data, but told that at first it is necessary to resolve an issue of implementation of biometrics in the system of state services, and already then to extend it to eSIM. The Minister of Communications Maksut Shadayev holds the same opinion.

Rostelecom supports legalization of eSIM and consider that the postponed implementation will worsen the Russian positions in the market of innovations. In Tele2 the edition was told that already use the application for remote connection of clients. And here believe in MTS that the mechanism of remote identification needs to be finished.

Problems with security can arise both in the system of the electronic signature, and in biometrics, the technical director of Qrator Labs Artem Gavrichenkov is sure. At the same time in a case with biometric base "the unprecedented level of protection" will be necessary not to allow leaks, he added.[3]

Mintsifra prepares amendments in the current legislation for implementation of eSIM

The ministry of digital development, communication and mass communications (Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications) prepares amendments in the current legislation for implementation of technology of virtual SIM cards (eSIM) according to the results of discussion with telecom operators. It became known on January 14, 2020 with reference to the press secretary of department Evgeny Novikov.

In 2019 the ministry held three meetings with chief operators of communication, industry scientific institutes and the interested departments. In particular, they considered proposals of operators on use of the biometric systems of identification of subscribers and estimated expediency of introduction of amendments to the legislation for use of eSIM.

The main problem of implementation of eSIM in the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications consider legitimate remote identification of subscribers.

If to solve its (problem), there are no other obstacles for implementation of technology -
told Evgeny Novikov

The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications also emphasized that for January 14, 2019 the preliminary list is already created from five bylaws to which it is necessary to make changes. Department prepared the draft of amendments in the government decree "About an Order of Rendering Telephone Services". Amendments in the others will be prepared during 2020[4].


Cooperation of Apple and MTX Connect on eSIM

On December 19, 2019 it became known of the beginning of cooperation of MTX Connect with Apple on eSIM technology. This is already the second partner of the American corporation with the Russian roots in this sector after Truphone which sells virtual sim cards to which using a special application it is possible to tie several foreign phone numbers that allows to use local rates at travel. Read more here.

FSB permitted to sell eSim. The technology works in networks of several operators

On October 23, 2019 it became known that FSB issued to virtual operator Easy4 (Sonet LLC)  permission to sale of communication services using eSim and identification of subscribers by the electronic signature through state services. Read more here.

In Russia identification of mobile subscribers on the person and a voice for development of eSIM will appear

On September 24, 2019 it became known of creation in Russia of the system of remote identification of cellular subscribers on the person and a voice. It is supposed that this technology which is developed by Rostelecom will promote distribution of electronic eSIM SIM cards. Read more here.

The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications permitted Tele2 to continue an experiment on issue of eSIM

According to the deputy minister communications Oleg Ivanov, Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications permitted the operator Tele2 to continue an experiment on issue of eSIM. It became known on September 20, 2019.

Tele2 began to issue to subscribers of eSIM in several Moscow salons since April 29, but next day suspended issue, explaining with the shortage of virtual SIM cards. On May 14 Tele2 at the request of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, "to permission of all questions concerning security", stopped issue of eSIM. Read more here.

The Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, FAS and FSB charged to work legalization of eSIM

At the beginning of September, 2019 it became known of what the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Maxim Akimov charged to the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, to FAS and  mobile operators to prepare offers on  the regulatory base for legalization in  Russia of technology of virtual sim cards of eSIM. Also  will involve FSB in discussion of a question.

Offers on change of the regulatory base need to be prepared by January 15, 2020. Specialists of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications should find out whether domestic cryptographic information security tools will be able to work on modern gadgets with eSIM. It is also necessary to register accurately rules of remote signing of the contract on communication services for subscribers and change of the password of a profile at transfer of number on other device.

The Deputy Prime Minister Akimov charged to work legalization of eSIM by January 15, 2020
We consider implementation of eSIM very important and timely, it will be the significant tool for development of the competition in the market, so, and for improvement of conditions for consumers — the head of department of regulation of communication and information technologies of FAS Elena Zayeva reported Kommersant.

According to her, basic approaches to regulation of eSIM should appear until the end of 2019.

Electronic "sim cards"  are not approved by operators of the big three. There consider, first, that the possibility of the subscriber at any time to change communication service provider will lead to competition aggravation and pricing wars. Secondly, the eSIM technology in the current configuration can threaten security of a mystery of communication for the Russian subscribers.

The Institute of Researches of the Internet (IRI) suggested to oblige producers of devices to place with an electronic sim card in Russia servers for subscriber profiles and cryptographic keys. Storage of these data abroad can raise questions at the Russian security services.

Specific parameters of use of eSIM in Russia (in particular, procedures of connection and shutdown of subscribers) still should be determined.[5]

The eSIM technology contradicts an initiative of implementation of domestic cryptography

Such conclusion is drawn in the report prepared by the Institute of Researches of the Internet (IRI) according to the results of meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications, FSB, Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), VimpelCom, MTS, Megafon and NPK "Kriptonit" [6].

In particular, in the document it is said that if production of chips for eSIM and the platform of loading of profiles cryptographic keys of virtual SIM cards are placed abroad too, then and. Authors warn that in such conditions to guarantee their safety it is impossible, and it directly influences protection of a mystery of communication.

According to authors of the report, initialization of eSIM-chips should be performed in the Russian territory with execution of special conditions. They indicate the need of obligatory placement in the territory of the Russian Federation of servers for platforms of loading of the eSIM profile and equal access to technology of operators and producers. One more requirement – the interface of the smartphone should not allow to predetermine the choice by the subscriber of the operator or the platform.

According to the director of III of strategic projects Irina Levova, on June 3 the report should be sent to the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Maxim Akimov.

Tele2 the first started eSIM in Russia

On April 29, 2019 Tele2 company reported that it within "Other rules" of the first of "Big Four" implemented eSIM on the network. The Tele2 project on use of eSIM completely meets safety requirements and legislations of the Russian Federation in the field of communication services provision. Read more here.

Tele2 and Rostelecom test eSIM

Tele2 and Rostelecom completed testing and are ready to implement eSim technology while operators of "the big three" oppose this technology. Experts consider that "big" operators consider eSim technology as "enemy" therefore, most likely, their interests will lobby at the legislative level in the form of a delay of adoption of the necessary regulatory base.

"The new technology expands connectivities of subscribers: they do not need to go to cellular shop of the operator, will be to provide access of the device to the Internet only enough. At this eSim will not break and it will not be lost as it can happen to the physical SIM card. The main requirement for connection security – subscriber identification – will be also observed, as well as in a case with the physical SIM card. The technology will also allow to use two and more SIM cards in devices which supported only one physical SIM card earlier (for example, devices based on iOS)", - the representative of the press service of Tele2 told the correspondent of ComNews.

Are sure of Tele2 that implementation of technology will positively affect telecom market as will contribute to the development of healthy competition and to work for the benefit of the client. "Also eSIM significantly facilitates transition to other operator on MNP. The technology is attractive to virtual operators that it does not tie clients to sales points of physical SIM cards. For example, Sber Mobayl and MVNO of Rostelecom are interested in legitimization and implementation of eSim. This technology removes many barriers to virtual operators, simplifies and reduces the price of customer acquisition"

MTS, Megafon and VimpelCom opposed eSIM. FSB supported their position

The Russian mobile operators MTS, Megafon and VimpelCom in April, 2019 at a meeting about perspectives of use of the built-in sim cards (eSIM) opposed implementation of this technology in Russia[7].

As told sources in the telecommunication market, the representative of the Center of data protection and special communication of Federal Security Service agreed with them. Department explains the position with difficulties using domestic cryptography in this product.

As for telecom operators, they are concerned by the fact that implementation of technology will lead to competition aggravation and reduction of revenue.

"eSIM saves operators from need to open cellular shops and to sell physical SIM cards. It will increase the competition from virtual mobile operators and will lower input barriers on the market to foreign vendors" — emphasized a source.

The top manager of other operator specified that eSIM will allow the foreign companies "deliver smartphones and other devices already with the contracts for communication" that can lead to outflow of money from Russia abroad. Other source added that implementation of eSIM can lead to pricing wars between telecommunication companies as subscribers will be able easily to change the operator.

"As a result operators will lose a considerable part of cash flows, and the prices of communication in Russia already some of the lowest in the world" — he noted.

The press service of MegaFon emphasized that "in commercial implementation of eSIM to display early as solutions on a number of questions are required".

According to the Deputy Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications Oleg Ivanov, problem solving of security on work of eSIM in Russia should be a priority before implementation of this technology.


  • The ESIM standard appeared in in 2016, the first devices which support technology began to appear after that.
  • Operators in Europe and the USA started technology at the end of 2018.

Growth of the world market of eSIM chips by 63% up to 364 million is Counterpoint

In 2018 364 million devices (including cars) with support of eSIM technology were produced worldwide that is 63% more, than the previous year. The data of analysts of Counterpoint Technology Market Research published on July 11 the 2019th demonstrate to it.

The largest producer of eSIM chips at the end of 2018 calls Gemalto company which delivered about 65 million chips. In close proximity to the leader Giesecke+Devrient (64.5 million) was located, and top-3 closed STMicroelectronics (57.5 million).

The largest producers of eSIM chips given to Counterpoint Technology Market Research

Experts explained leadership of Gemalto and Giesecke+Devrient with the extensive partner channel, certification of GSMA and creation of the complete solutions eSIM. 

According to the analyst of Counterpoint Satyajit Sinha, the growing penetration of eSIM will make a revolution in how connections in devices will be activated and be controlled.

The compact form factor of eSIM provides considerable reduction of space for producers of devices along with potentially higher security, reprogrammability and energy efficiency in comparison with traditional solutions for SIM cards. Thanks to eSIM operators can significantly reduce costs on distribution and activation of SIM cards and also to increase roaming revenues. Besides, eSIM offers huge advantages to consumers and corporate clients, allowing it is easy to select, activate, connect and manage connections on the devices — Sinha reported.

In a research it is specified that by July, 2019 the solutions eSIM are divided into three main categories:

  • program eUICC;
  • hardware MFF2;
  • hardware WLCSP.

The last two are certified by GSMA and conform to the standards of security stated in SGMA SGP.01/02/21/22 specifications

Gemalto builds in eSIM processors of Qualcomm

On May 28, 2018 the Gemalto company announced embedding of the SIM card in processors of Qualcomm. Thanks to this cooperation the eSIM technology will gain wide commercial circulation in the market as will find application in different notebooks, tablets and Always Connected computers.

Integration of a chip of the SIM cards directly in a single-crystal system became possible thanks to eSIM technology which, in addition to economy of space, provides some other advantages, including "seamless" access to LTE networks and networks of fifth generation in the future, prolongs time of independent electronics and creates a basis for development of new consumer applications in the field of online payments, authorization in cloud services and payments of travel by public transport.

The eSIM technology will gain wide commercial circulation in the market as will find application in different notebooks, tablets and Always Connected computers

In the press release it is noted that it is about the first implementation of eSIM in the processors developed for Always Connected PC and other similar consumer devices.

Gemalto says that at the expense of eSIM producers of electronics will be able to optimize expenses on purchase of component parts and the organization of deliveries as the solution allows to make setup of devices in time or after production.

The technology brings big benefit and to mobile operators: they will get access to large base of the devices connected to network and the platform for protection of services.

The first products Always Connected PC working under control of Qualcomm Snapdragon chips with the built-in Gemalto technology will appear in the market at the beginning of 2019.[8]