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Embedded SIM cards will let you switch carriers on the fly, and carriers are supporting it in droves

Could the days of swapping SIM cards shortly be behind us? If Apple and Samsung, as well as the GSM Association, have their way, then that’s the future we will have, according to the Financial Times.

The current setup has consumers switching SIM cards whenever they want to change carriers. However, the newly-proposed e-SIM card is embedded within the device itself, and is reprogrammable to work with any supported carrier.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because Apple pushed forward with something similar in Apple SIM with the LTE version of the iPad Air 2. Where e-SIM differentiates itself is in its much wider operator support, with the likes of AT&T, Deutsche Telekom (the folks behind T-Mobile), Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa (the folks behind Three), Orange, Telefónica (the folks behind O2), and Vodafone all involved.

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According to a GSMA spokesperson, the e-SIM technology should be finished by next year. “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 for 2016,” said a GSMA spokesperson.

It’s not just operators who are agreeing to the new standard, however, as the GSMA claims that Apple and Samsung are also eyeing the use of embedded SIM cards in their upcoming smartphones. Specifically regarding Apple, however, the GSMA said it is “continuing to work with Apple to secure their support for the initiative” and that the group remains optimistic about such a prospect.

Incorporating an embedded SIM card could prove fruitful for device manufacturers, since they would no longer have to make multiple models of the same phone. In addition, it would eliminate the need for a physical SIM slot, which means devices could slim down further. And the benefit for consumers would be huge, since they would no longer have to switch SIM cards whenever they hop on another carrier’s network.