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Singtel inks partnership to enable automatic eSIM profile change in China

Telco's collaboration with China Unicom and Bridge Alliance allows enterprise customers of both mobile operators to make embedded SIM changes over-the-air, bypassing the need to manually configure their device SIM cards to change networks in Singapore or China.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor on

Singtel has inked a partnership that will enable its enterprise customers as well as that of China Unicom to make embedded SIM (eSIM) changes over-the-air. This bypasses the need to manually configure the device SIM card to change networks when the two telcos' respective users are in Singapore or China. 

The collaboration is the first between two members of mobile group, Bridge Alliance, which comprises 34 members that serve more than 900 million customers in this region. Other members include India's Airtel, Hong Kong's CSL, Malaysia's Maxis, and Indonesia's Telkomsel.

The service launch followed a eSIM swap trial conducted in early-April, during which China Unicom and Singtel were able to swap eSIM Profiles using Bridge Alliance's technical and commercial resources, said the partners in a joint statement Tuesday. The tie-up would enable devices equipped with China Unicom eSIMs to automatically switch their profiles to Singtel's when used in Singapore. The devices' embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC) would download and activate Singtel's profiles through a GSMA-compliant subscription manager platform. 

Bridge Alliance CEO Ong Geok Chwee said mobile customers could extend their reach with its member operators across Asia-Pacific, tapping the benefits of "multi-domestic connectivity, economies of scale, and logistical efficiency". 

"Together, we can help Chinese companies accelerate Internet of Things (IoT) deployment in Southeast Asia and simplify business negotiations through Bridge Alliance's framework agreement, to bring market advantages so Chinese companies can land across the region," Ong said.

Singtel also could facilitate cross-border IoT connectivity across China and Singapore. "IoT deployments are rapidly growing across industries and markets, as enterprises digitalise processes to become more agile and efficient," said the Singapore telco's group enterprise vice president of enterprise mobility product and platform, Dennis Wong. 

He added that the partnership with Bridge Alliance could drive wider IoT adoption and boost Singtel's IoT partner ecosystem. "[It] enhances our ability to support China Unicom's and other Chinese enterprises' rollout of IoT devices in Singapore and the region," Wong said. 

With more IoT devices built with eSIMs and the establishment of more cross-border eSIM swap collaborations, switching between cellular networks abroad would be easier, the partners said. It also enables enterprises operating in Asia-Pacific to tap local data SIM rates, rather than roaming charges, making it more cost effective to roll out IoT across the region, they added.

Citing research from Markets and Markets, the partners said the global eSIM market was projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 31% between 2018 and 2023, hitting almost 1.17 billion units and worth $978 million. 


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