SIMs & Calling Cards

iPAD Air 2 Features a SIM Secret

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Apple quietly slips in the iPad Air 2 a new approach to cellular connectivity with the Apple SIM. In a totally unheralded snippet not flagged in Apple’s iPad launch presentations or press releases, this gives users the flexibility to choose from a variety of data providers directly from the iPad, rather than having to source each SIM from the carriers.

Apple SIM

This snippet is hidden away on Apple’s website in the wireless section for the iPad Air 2. This is almost certainly deliberate, as the company would prefer a softly softly approach, rather than appear to directly challenge the carriers for control of the customer.

In the short term, this is probably designed to make sales of cellular-enabled iPads easier through non-carrier channels, as no separate stock of SIMs needs to be maintained.

It also delivers direct and real customer benefits, as they are able to select and switch between carriers as required, with far greater ease than previously. It can also allow travellers potentially to choose a local data plan when abroad, with significant savings made as a result.

To start, this option is only available from three US carriers, plus EE in the UK, but it seems likely that others will quickly come on board, or risk losing business. It is also only on the iPad, so only for data, but we can expect Apple to want to extend Apple SIM onto the iPhone in the future.

In the larger scheme of things, this is yet another salvo fired in the direction of the telcos, who are all too often painted as over powerful. The tech industry has long desired a way to bypass the control these players exert - Steve Jobs was rumoured to have considered building a rival WiFi-based network for the original iPhone.

More recently both Google and Facebook have looked at ways to deliver services directly, ostensibly to reach areas of the globe not yet covered. But their approaches - low-orbit satellites and solar-powered drones - once established could be expanded to challenge the telcos more directly.

However so far the carriers have continued to reign supreme, dominating the sales channels for smartphones, and in most countries, successfully tying in the bulk of customers to long-term contracts. Only time will tell as to whether this latest Apple initiative will start to swing the balance of power.

Go iPad Air 2 Wireless Details

Go Google’s Satellite Plan for the Internet

Go FaceBook Looks to the Skies

The Battle Over Nano-SIM

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Yet another quarrel is going on between smartphone vendors-- Apple is fighting against Motorola, RIM and Nokia over the SIM card standard the smartphones of tomorrow will using.

SIM CardApple proposes nano-SIM, which is thinner and smaller than current micro-SIMs by around 30%. It is also an Apple development, and thus makes other vendors worry Apple will be owning the patents to the technology... So much so Motorola and RIM are backing an alternate design developed by Nokia.

However "most" European operators are reportedly backing the Apple design.

The Financial Times reports both sides of the SIM arguments have tabled proposals to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)-- and the committee is set to vote on the nano-SIM matter later this week.

The SIM ETSI choses is of critical importance to future devices. For instance, the FT says nano-SIM might need a protective "drawer," while Nokia boasts its proposal has "significant technical advantages".

Read more...

Apple Wants Smaller SIMs

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Apple wants to make thinner devices-- and to do so it demands standard SIM cards get even smaller.

SIM cardsThe news comes through Reuters' reporting comments from an Orange executive, with confirmation from ETSI (the European telecoms standards body).

No decisions on actually starting the standardisation work (a process potentially taking more than a year) is done yet, mind. The process could get a boost should the companies making the standards commitee reach a "broad consensus".

The Orange executive concludes that devices using Apple's tiny SIMs should start appearing next year. 

Should Apple's proposal become a standard amongst operators-- and what Apple wants, Apple tends to get-- more vendors will follow in its wake. 

Go Apple Plans Smaller SIM Card (Reuters)

So That's Why Kate's Bridesmaid Was So Unhappy

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Cameras captured one unhappy little girl looking glum amid the splendor of the British royal wedding...

unhappy Bridesmaid

Probably she was thinking of her relatives abroad...

British citizens abroad who are iPad users and who watched the royal wedding faced roaming charges for watching the full YouTube broadcast outside of the UK, calculates Tru, a mobile network for international travelers who was not ashamed to take advantage of the occassion to promote its new Micro Sim for iPad.

A British person who decided "to catch just 45 minutes of the event on their iPad while soaking up the sun in Sydney or San Francisco, will rack up costs with Orange UK of an eye watering GBP 7344, the same person on a T-Mobile contract would be liable to pay GBP 6885."

Tru also says "Watching the full 8 hour BBC broadcast on YouTube's Royal channel could land Orange users a GBP 78,336 bill to welcome them home - enough to pay for Kate Middleton's dress, her tiara... and even the car that takes her to the service."

Tru, launching its Micro SIM for the iPad, wants to engage business users at only GBP 20 for the same amount of data. Now that could be a match made in heaven...

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Working assumptions:

  • * - You tube broadcasts at 340 Kbps:
  • * - 45 minute YouTube video = 918MB
  • * - 8 hour YouTube video = 9.792 GB
  • * - Orange Roaming Rates in US or AUS = GBP8.00 per MB
  • * - T-Mobile Roaming Rates in US or Aus = GBP7.50 per MB

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Go Tru Micro Sim

Maxroam Wins TechCrunch Europa Award

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TechCrunch awards Maxroam the best hardware startup prize at its 2010 Europa's (European startup awards for European and EMEA tech companies).

MaxroamMaxroam offers SIM cards customers can use globally, together with a low-cost roaming service. The service covers over 230 countries, and Maxroam says it reduces voice call, SMS and data costs by up to 70%.

Customers know exactly how much they spend via online real-time billing check.

The SIM can be used in any standard GSM mobile phone, smartphone or mobile broadband modem.

Go Maxroam

Go Europas European Startup Awards 2010