Traditional SIM cards are programmed to work with a specific operator. The new embedded SIM would help smartphone and tablet users avoid that.
Major operators such as ATT,Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone are believed to join the project, the Financial Times reports.
Apple has long wanted to get rid of the binding dependence. In 2014, it introduced its own SIM card for the iPad Air 2. The initiative was only supported by a few operators such as T-Mobile and ATT in the US, and EE in the UK.
Analyst at Berenberg Ali Farid Khwaja told FT that there had been speculations Apple wanted to do that back in 2010 with its iPhones, but had to retreat due to pressure from the carriers.
The situation seems to have changed in 2015.
“With the majority of operators on board, the plan is to finalize the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016,” said a statement from GSMA provided to the FT.
The embedded SIM is not expected to replace the Apple’s own SIM that it intends to introduce in its next-gen iPhones.
The GSMA is “continuing to work with Apple to secure their support for the initiative. While we are optimistic, a formal agreement with them is still in progress,” said the association.
However, even if the sides manage to finalize the deal, the new SIM card will be launched no sooner than in a year due to technical formalities.
Gemalto shares saw a sharp, more-than-5 percent drop on Thursday, when word had spread. Gemalto is the world’s biggest SIM card producer, making about 2 billion cards per year for clients including ATT, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.