Apple’s new iPad comes with a feature that could shake up the telecom industry: A reprogrammable SIM card that can be used to switch between different network providers.
Initially only four mobile service providers in the US and Britain are participating but other network operators and regions are expected to follow.
The technology was originally developed for cars with internet access, the idea being that it wouldn’t be necessary to change the SIM cards if the vehicles travelled to other countries. Because these SIMs are easily converted to a local service provider, roaming charges are also avoided.
However, mobile operators aren’t too enthusiastic about the development as they fear that customers will be much more likely to switch network provider if their device has a reprogrammable SIM card.
Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst with IT market researcher IDC, said he would be surprised if network operators in Western Europe allow the new “Apple SIM” to be used in their phones. Typically iPhones are sold by the network operators at a heavily subsidized price and as part of a long-term contract.
The situation might be different for the iPad, which is available in a cheaper version for wireless networks only. “On iPad is a way to attract users to a cellular version,” Jeronimo tweeted.
In the US and Britain AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and EE will support the new SIM type.