Vodacom to roll out eSIM support in SA

Mobile operator Vodacom has introduced support for eSIM devices in South Africa along with a new additional service, called OneNumber, that offers users to have a single mobile phone number across multiple devices. The first devices Vodacom will roll out with eSIM support out of the box are Samsung’s recent 42mm and 46mm Galaxy Watch (the LTE editions).

Even if South Africa’s array of current eSIM-supporting devices is slim, the news should eventually make other operators to follow the trend, and should translate into more supported devices — mostly wearables — making their way to us. The iPhone XS already wires eSIMs, as do Samsung’s latest Galaxy Watch devices.

An eSIM is an implanted SIM built into the hardware of a device that can be provisioned for service by a mobile operator. It means manufacturers can do without a SIM slot — which is especially beneficial for wearables where space is a precious commodity. It will also please frequent travelers, and stop them accumulating a collection of expired SIM cards in their luggage.

While data-only network Rain has declared it’s going to introduce eSIM support (and 5G services in September), this move makes Vodacom the first local mobile network operator to commercially roll out eSIM support. Apple has been cautious to offer their LTE-enabled smartwatches in South Africa to date because of the lack of eSIM support.

Alongside eSIM support Vodacom is introducing a new service it calls OneNumber that allows its customers a single number for numerous devices. For example, if you’re out of reach of your phone but your wristable has an eSIM, it’ll ring. Samsung’s Galaxy Watches will be the first Vodacom will offer with OneNumber. In contrast with most smartwatches that connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth, the Galaxy Watch LTE (and other smartwatches like it) can function completely autonomously.

The President and CEO of Samsung Africa, Sung Yoon, declared, “It’s a separate phone. Users will also be able to use Samsung Pay with the Galaxy LTE without having their phone nearby. Samsung’s been aggressively expanding support for its payment service, with Discovery Bank and Investec being announced today, and FNB joining launch partners Absa and Standard Bank earlier this month.’’