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Singtel in tie-up to enable wireless eSIM changes between China, Singapore

SINGAPORE Telecommunications (Singtel) is collaborating with China Unicom and mobile alliance Bridge Alliance to let enterprise customers of both telcos make embedded SIM (eSIM) changes wirelessly, without having to manually configure their SIM cards to change networks in China or Singapore.

Unlike traditional SIM cards, eSIMs cannot be removed from their device, and the information on them is rewritable.

Under the collaboration, devices equipped with China Unicom eSIMs will automatically switch their profiles to Singtel's when they are brought into Singapore.

The embedded universal integrated circuit card in these devices will also download and activate Singtel’s profiles through a Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA)-compliant subscription manager platform, the three parties said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The collaboration is the first between two Bridge Alliance members, and leverages Bridge Alliance’s strategic Internet of Things (IoT) partnership with China Unicom.

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It also "paves the way for Singtel to play a key role in facilitating cross-border IoT connectivity across China and Singapore," the parties said.

Bridge Alliance is a mobile alliance covering 34 countries in the Asia-pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

With more IoT devices being built with eSIMs, and more cross-border eSIM swap collaborations being arranged, switching cellular networks abroad becomes easier, the parties said.

This enables enterprises operating across the Asia-Pacific region to enjoy local data SIM rates rather than being charged roaming rates, making it more cost effective to roll out IoT across the region, they added.

Singtel group enterprise vice-president of enterprise mobility product and platform Dennis Wong said IoT deployments were growing rapidly across industries and markets as enterprises digitalise processes to become more agile and efficient.

The collaboration with Bridge Alliance would drive more seamless connectivity and broader IoT adoption, and augment Singtel’s IoT partner ecosystem, he said.

This would, in turn, enhance the telco's ability to support China Unicom and other Chinese enterprises' rollout of IoT devices in Singapore and the region, he added. 

China Unicom IoT Company assistant general manager He Fei added that China Unicom will develop overseas markets with partners such as Bridge Alliance and Singtel, and "provide top level services to our customers".

Bridge Alliance chief executive Ong Geok Chwee said that under the new collaboration, mobile customers "can extend their reach with the premier member operators across the Asia-pacific region while being enabled with multi-domestic connectivity, economies of scale and logistical efficiency".

"Together, we can help Chinese companies accelerate IoT deployment in South-east Asia (and) simplify business negotiations through Bridge Alliance’s framework agreement to bring market advantages so Chinese companies can land across the region,” she added.

Singtel shares were trading at S$2.52 as at 3.07pm on Tuesday after the announcement, up S$0.02 or 0.8 per cent.

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