Melon Mobile goes live with eSIM technology

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 27 Sept 2023
Melon Mobile has tapped on eSIM technology.
Melon Mobile has tapped on eSIM technology.

New mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Melon Mobile today launched an eSIM solution.

Melon Mobile, which piggybacks on MTN’s network, was launched in the South African market in April.

An eSIM is a form of SIM card that is embedded directly into a device. Instead of an integrated circuit located on a removable SIM card, typically made of PVC, an eSIM consists of software installed onto a chip permanently attached to a device.

Melon Mobile’s announcement comes as South Africa has seen sluggish adoption of eSIM technology.

Industry insiders recently told ITWeb that despite progress in the availability of eSIM devices, uptake of the services remains slow as a result of several factors, including technical complexities.

The new frontier in SIM technology has been touted as a game-changer in phone connectivity, with experts saying it will play an important role in accelerating the local MVNO market.

In a statement, Melon Mobile says eSIM technology will continue to provide secure, identifiable and authenticated access to the MTN mobile network.

According to the MVNO, users with eSIM-compatible mobile devices can get access to a Melon eSIM to experience mobile flexibility with a pay-as-you-go or month-to-month plan option, as well as data and voice that never expires.

In June, Vodacom started offering eSIM support for smartphones across prepaid, top-up/hybrid and postpaid contract types.

According to the telco, this means users with selected eSIM-enabled smartphones are able to connect to the Vodacom network for the benefits, capabilities and flexibility that an eSIM provides.

MTN also has an eSIM offering for its prepaid customers. Cell C and Telkom were the first to make eSIMs available on smartphones to all their customers in 2021.

An MVNO is a wireless communications services provider that does not own the wireless network infrastructure over which it provides services to its customers.

Calvin Collett, founder and CEO of Melon Mobile.
Calvin Collett, founder and CEO of Melon Mobile.

Typically, an MVNO enters into a business agreement with a mobile network operator, to obtain bulk access to network services at wholesale rates, then sets retail prices independently.

In SA, Cell C has historically led the MVNO market, with players such as FNB Connect and Mr Price Mobile, among others, piggybacking on its network.

MTN and Telkom also descended on the MVNO market, with Vodacom expected to set up its own platform.

Calvin Collett, founder and CEO of Melon Mobile, says he envisions a mobile future without the constraints of physical stores, stating: “eSIM is another step towards a truly digital mobile company.

“Our customers now have the choice to use our service over eSIM or physical SIM, or even have a Melon eSIM as a secondary SIM to take advantage of our data and voice prices – especially when they are locked into long-term contracts they can’t get out of.”

The company today also announced its “Family Plans” product. “South Africans will have the freedom to build customised plans suited to each person they wish to include in their Family Plan,” Collett says.

“They then have the ability to top-up or change plans whenever necessary, all from one account. It’s the personalisation of mobile plans for the whole family.

“Melon Mobile’s commitment to creating a fully digital experience, now including Family Plans and eSIM technology, ushers in a new era of mobile connectivity, offering a convenient, secure and fully digital solution to meet the demands of today’s tech-savvy consumers.”