Vodacom, Samsung enable SA's first eSIM wearable

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch is an eSIM-enabled wearable and will soon be available in SA.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is an eSIM-enabled wearable and will soon be available in SA.

Vodacom will now be able to support eSIM devices in South Africa as the mobile operator today announced a partnership with tech giant Samsung to unveil the country's first eSIM-enabled wearables.

The eSIM is embedded in the motherboard of the device, with the ability to store multiple profiles across various mobile networks without the use of a traditional SIM card in a SIM slot. The embedded SIM or eSIM is linked to the customer's profile by generating a unique QR code which contains all of the relevant information.

With the evolution of eSIM technology, customers in future may not need to buy physical SIMs anymore.

At an event at Vodacom World in Midrand, the telco also launched a service called OneNumber, whereby customers can link a number of devices to a primary account using the same phone number.

As the service evolves, customers with multiple devices that have SIM or eSIM capability, such as smartwatches, tablets, additional phones and laptops or even vehicles, will be able to connect to the Vodacom network, independent of their primary device.

The first eSIM-enabled devices that will connect to the Vodacom network are the Samsung Galaxy LTE Watch 42mm and 46mm eSIM variants. These will be available exclusively through Vodacom, for now, and can be linked to the Vodacom OneNumber service.

Vodacom subscribers who sign up or upgrade to one of the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range devices can bundle it with the new eSIM Samsung Galaxy LTE Watch.

The eSIM technology can be used for both Android and iOS devices, and Vodacom says support for other wearables and eSIM-enabled devices will be announced in due course.

Vodacom says linked devices will consume data, SMS and voice bundles from the primary account and up to eight devices can be linked to the primary number.

Vodacom OneNumber also enables multi-ringing, which means customers will not have to carry all their devices at the same time, and will still be able to take calls and access data on the go from their smartwatch, no matter how far away they might be from their "primary" phone.

According to Jorge Mendes, chief officer of Vodacom consumer business unit, the "game-changing technology" is being introduced "after months of rigorous network testing to ensure a smooth experience for all our customers and to keep them connected wherever they go".

Justin Hume, integrated mobility director at Samsung South Africa, adds that the eSIM Galaxy Watch "is another step forward in our commitment to support the development of the Internet of things and multi-device experience market".

Once available in store and online, Vodacom customers can bundle a Samsung Galaxy Watch with a Samsung S10 device for an additional R199 per month over 24 months. However, they will have to pay a R98 once-off connection fee for the eSIM service and a R25 monthly recurring VAS fee, which will be automatically activated upon linking an eSIM device to a contract. The service is only open to contract customers for the moment.

For those who want to pay for the device upfront, it will cost R5 999 for the Galaxy Watch 42mm and R6 299 for the Galaxy Watch 46mm.

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