A report titled eSIM in China: the road ahead, prepared by the GSMA along with the Telecommunication Terminal Industry Forum Association (TAF), obtained data from China's three mobile operators — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom — and also other firms in the mobile ecosystem.
The report found that smartwatches dominated eSIM deployments with smartphones playing catch-up. eSIM smartwatches were still a small percentage of the total smartwatches sold and operators were thus allowing consumers to use their smartwatches as secondary devices on a single mobile subscription to boost take-up.
Though Chinese companies have been making smartphones with eSIM functionality for the rest of the world, the domestic market has not formally adopted eSIM technology which will need formal regulation and new manufacturing, logistical and supply chain processes. Globally, more than 50 mobile operators support the technology.
“From consumer electronics to automotive we are seeing a diverse array of products hitting the market utilising the benefits of connectivity and bringing consumers choice.”
The report highlights efforts in China to create a favourable regulatory framework for eSIM deployments.
It said: "Streamlining procedures and setting clear, unified rules on eSIM requirements for consumer and industrial devices is critical to accelerating the deployment of eSIM technology and its market adoption.
"This includes credentials management, designation of root certificate issuing and security and cross-border interoperability. The report also recommends that the government should facilitate trials of eSIM services, particularly in the nascent industrial IoT to promote an open eSIM ecosystem."
“China has a unique mobile market, both in terms of size and revenue growth and leadership in mobile developments and tech innovation has reached unprecedented levels," said Xie Yi, chairman of TAF.
"China is increasingly demonstrating its technological innovation and is emerging as a leading global market to test and implement new technologies.
“Promoting the steady development of eSIM in China will help support developments in both the consumer and industrial markets. Based on the premise of national conditions, TAF has been committed to all parties in the joint industrial chain and cooperation with the GSMA, to make the best efforts to this end.”