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Android 13 will enable two carrier lines on a single eSIM

Google is working on a patented tech that would allow users to activate two cellular connection lines from different carriers on a single eSIM. The solution is called Multiple Enabled Profiles, or MEP in short, and it will likely be enabled with the arrival of Android 13 later this year. As detailed by Esper’s Mishaal Rahman, MEP is a software-based solution for activating two profiles on a single eSIM.

A traditional eSIM system only allows a single SIM profile to remain active at a time, even though it can store multiple profiles simultaneously. And that means if you want to maintain two cellular lines on your phone, it must either have two separate eSIM slots, or a hybrid eSIM + physical SIM system. The eSIM limitation to only support a single carrier profile at a time has been baked at the hardware level, and that’s where MEP comes into the picture with some software wizardry.

Android will solve an eSIM problem
Image used with permission by copyright holder

An eSIM chip is connected to a modem via a physical interface (wires or buses), but the physical interface supports only a single communication channel, which means only a single SIM profile remains active at a time. In order to achieve a Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) system, two physical interfaces will be required. Google’s MEP proposes a system of logical interfaces that can create two communication channels on a single physical connection.

Each logical channel can carry a SIM profile, which means a single physical connection can route two SIM profiles to the modem from one eSIM enclosure. Interestingly, Google’s MEP proposal is backward compatible, which means if your phone has an eSIM slot and it is ready for Android 13, it should hypothetically let you run two carrier lines from the same eSIM slot. In a nutshell, you can download SIM profiles from two carriers on a single eSIM module, and keep them active at the same time without any hassles.

Google has reportedly been testing MEP on Pixel phones, and Rahman expects the feature to land with the upcoming public beta build of Android 13. On Pixel phones, the underlying MEP modifications will be handled by the pre-installed SIM Manager app. Google is currently testing the APIs with Android 13’s Developer Preview builds and has been in talks with carriers as well as OEMs towards the implementation scheme.

What’s really interesting is that the tech is not bound by the Android operating system, and can reportedly be enabled on eSIM-toting hardware that runs iOS, macOS, and Windows. Of course, it rests on Google to decide whether it wants to extend a patented tech to other brands for free or license it by charging a fee. Looking over at the competition, Apple already offers dual eSIM facility for two active lines on the iPhone 13 series and might ditch the physical SIM slot in its entirety with the iPhone 14 lineup.

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Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
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