Justice Department requiring T-Mobile and Dish to support eSIM as part of merger approval


T-Mobile launched eSIM support at the end of last year, but so far support has been limited to the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR on prepaid service. The T-Mobile-Sprint merger could help to greatly expand T-Mo’s support of eSIM, though.

The Department of Justice is requiring T-Mobile and Dish to support eSIM as part of its approval of T-Mo and Sprint’s merger. This will make it easier for Dish to attract new customers, the DOJ explains, and help grow competition in the market.

Here’s the DOJ’s full statement on eSIM, courtesy of The Verge:

“The remedy also facilitates consumers’ ability to easily switch between wireless providers by requiring the new T-Mobile and the new Dish service to support eSIM, electronic SIM, technology. This requirement will make it easier for Dish to attract new subscribers, help extend the competition in this market, and will provide a platform for new innovative options.

Sadly in the United States, eSIM has not been widely adopted in mobile wireless like it is in Europe and others. And that’s an area separate of this merger we have looked to. This will revolutionize the use eSIMs in hopefully all carriers, because once consumers have it, they’ll benefit from it.”

eSIM does have some support in the U.S., including from AT&T and Verizon in addition to T-Mobile, but it’s nowhere near widespread adoption quite yet. The DOJ appears to be hoping that by requiring T-Mobile and Dish to support eSIM, other carriers will be pressured into expanding their eSIM support, too.

We don’t really have any details about the DOJ’s requirement on T-Mobile and Dish’s eSIM adoption, so it’s tough to know exactly what effect this is going to have on T-Mo, Dish, and the other carriers. It is encouraging because it could result in eSIM becoming more widespread in the U.S. eSIM has several benefits, such as consumers not having to worry about handling tiny plastic cards when they changes phones or wireless service, while device makers would no longer need a SIM card tray taking up space in their phone design.

Source: The Verge

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  • Brian Richards

    ESIM. As in no physical sim card?

    Bet you that it will be harder to move between carriers, not easier, with no physical sim card to quickly swap.

    • Albert Orange

      ESIM can be just as easy… it is configurable via an app. The problem has been stupid policies by carriers… like T-Mo restricting it to only pre-paid, and Verizon restricting it to only post paid.

      I would love to put my main carrier (T-Mobile) as my ESIM and keep the physical SIM open on my iPhone… for a different carrier… maybe pre-paid Verizon for when I go on a road trip. Currently, VZW has the best rural coverage.

      • SurvivingSunnyvale

        You should do a Google News search for articles about the DOJ investing ATT/Verizon for “locking” eSIM devices to their service.

      • JT

        Be friend with your local T-Mobile store. they can easily switch your TM number that is on sim to the eSim inside iPhone.

    • KMB877

      eSIM it’s a chip soldered directly on the motherboard. It can be activated using carrier’s app. Can’t be changed, but the network can “learn” about the cellphone eSIM. You can change the provider, the eSIM will be “paired” with the new network.

      The DOJ’s statement isn’t realy true, in Europe are more popular the terminals with dual phisical SIMs, not the eSIM.
      For the provider, eSIM = cheaper solution, more money. For the user, more headaches.
      Personally, I don’t like the idea, I have a device (ZTE Axon 7) with dual nano SIMs.

    • slybacon

      eSIM switching takes less than 1 second. How long does it take to swap your physical sim card?

      • marque2

        A few seconds if I could just find that #@$# key ;)

  • vinnyjr

    Don’t like it at all. If I want to change my Carrier, The esim will stop it. Nope don’t want it at all.

    • NapoPeb

      How will it stop it?

    • Trevor Hammonds

      You don’t like it because you don’t know what it is. It would make it much easier to move between carriers, by using an app. No more physically swapping SIMs. Just click and select the carrier of choice — assuming they support it.

    • slybacon

      I feel like i’m responding to my grandpa, but nope, you are not right at all. It makes it much easier to switch carriers, just tap.

  • Jay Holm

    I am afraid smartphone manufacturers will use not needing a sim tray as an excuse to also not have support for microsd cards. . .

    • Nearmsp

      World wide 2 sim or 1 sim + esim is popular. Apple introduced dual SIM only because their market share in China and India was tanking due to lack of dual SIM capability. In reality, iPhone is only dual standby SIM. One can’t use data of one company and voice call of the other. Only one line at a time is active in iPhone so it is still a few years behind the Chinese phones such as Huawei etc.

  • Brian

    I don’t want an eSIM. I have to travel outside the US 20 days a month and I have SIM cards from other countries in a SIM wallet. When I am on my way to another country I just get out the SIM that I use in that country.

    • NapoPeb

      You realise this is the whole point of esim right? You store those sims on your phone. It’s far easier to switch the SIM via a phone menu on a plane then it is to switch physical SIMs.

      • Jay Holm

        People are far faster to be paranoid, than rational.

        • ugp5

          hurt by ongoing carrier tricks

      • slybacon

        I use eSIM on my iPhone XS and it is so easy to swap which data plan I want to use, or turn on or off a line.

      • Brian

        I’ve never had any carrier around the world offer esim. I understand the Pixel phones are esim capable but none of the 11 carriers I use have offered it.

    • JG

      You’ll still be able to switch to a local SIM when traveling. Except instead of needing to carry a SIM wallet and run the risk of potentially losing one (or all) of those small pieces of plastic… All you’ll have to do is launch the eSIM app, select the eSIM you want to switch to and hit apply.

      • mavricxx

        You do realize no all countries support eSIM, many countries especially poor ones do not and don’t even have 4G.

        • Nearmsp

          If T-mobile is my primary service in the US on an e-sim, I can travel overseas with just one phone and insert the local physical SIM. Right now, I have to take out and reinsert my T-mobile sim multiple times when I want to call home using Wi-Fi calling.

        • JG

          Don’t most eSim phones have a physical SIM tray still (like the Pixel line)?

          That would allow your to use both. eSIM when supported, physical otherwise.

          There would still be switching in this case, but potentially less.

  • dtam

    Remember the days where you were changing phones and you had call the carrier and give them the IMEI #? If not executed properly, this feels like we could be headed back to that

    • slybacon

      I’m using eSIM on my iPhone XS and it was easy to add. My work signed me up for a new line of service, but I still wanted to keep my number (T-Mobile) and not carry two phones. They told Verizon that it would be eSIM and they simply sent me a QR code to scan with my camera and the account was active on my phone and iOS organized the rest. Very easy.

    • DisqusQualityControl

      If you’re with Metro, you still have to do that. Unless they’ve done away with that? i had to do it 7 or 8 months ago.

  • JG

    This might be a stupid question…

    But is there anyway to convert a physical SIM into an eSIM? An app that can copy the SIM’s data and write it to an internal eSIM file?

    • Gavriel Ostrow

      no it cant. U can however access the data on the sim and transfer it to your phone, then upload it to google docs or cloud if necessary.

    • alfonzso

      T-Mobile can do it for you if you contact them. They did it for me. But I had to call multiple times and be really persistent before I found a tech who could do it for me.

    • Kirn Gill

      No, SIMs are specifically designed not to be copyable, as they are secure encryption devices.

      You can, however, work with your carrier to transfer your line to a eSIM. Contact their customer support line for details.

  • Nearmsp

    T-mobile not offering e-SIM to post paid customers was very non competitive. I had to carry two phones on my international visits. With e-sim I can just switch between the phones with a few clicks. Use local SIM data overseas and switch to T-mobile SIM to make calls, check voice mail when in Wi-Fi area using just one phone. No doubt this will lead to more people using less of T-mobile LTE roaming overseas. This is a great news for post paid customers of T-mobile who have esim capable phones.