T-Mobile eSIM Cuts Data Roaming Fees for Connected Devices

T-Mobile is now offering business customers eSIM, a way to eliminate data roaming fees in connected devices traveling between the U.S. and Canada.

"The Internet of Things (IOT) knows no boundaries ... or at least it shouldn't have to," Rusty Lhamon, director of M2M at T-Mobile, said in a Feb. 18 statement, announcing eSIM, T-Mobile's latest "un-carrier" move.

eSIM is a ready-to-use SIM card for connected devices—from connected cars to wearables and navigation devices—that eliminates international data roaming costs between the United States and Canada.

eSIM operates on T-Mobile's GSM network, where available, and the networks of T-Mobile partners, providing local data rates for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

The potential savings are "enormous," according to T-Mobile, which offered the example of a trucking company that travels frequently between the countries.

"Between mapping services, video monitoring, email, fleet tracking software and vehicle diagnostics, a single truck might easily use 100MB of data per month while traveling in Canada," T-Mobile said in a statement. "The roaming cost for that single truck alone could be as much as $200 per month or nearly $2,400 per year."

eSIM is now available and can ship fully configured, out of the box, for use with multiple international carriers, or be specially built into virtually any connected product.

Throughout the year, T-Mobile plans to announce additional countries in which eSIM is supported.

According to a Cisco Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, in 2013 nearly 22 million wearable devices existed globally, generating 1.7 pentabytes of monthly traffic.

The number of mobile-connected devices is expected to exceed the world's population by the end of 2014, the report added, and between 2013 and 2018, global mobile data traffic is expected to increase 11-fold.

Cut the Data Roaming

In October, T-Mobile largely did away with data roaming fees for smartphones, announcing that in more than 100 countries, unlimited data use and texting would be included in its Simple Choice plans.

CEO John Legere, at a New York press event, bashed the mobile industry for the practice of attaching high fees to data roaming.
"They're making margins between 90 and 100 percent," Legere told the press. In a statement, T-Mobile added that if Americans were to use their phones abroad the way they do at home, their costs would exceed $1,000 a day.

"How have we allowed them to do this for so long?" asked Legere.

T-Mobile has made a number of strategic policy changes over the last year—including offering monthly device financing and enabling customers to upgrade devices more often than every two years—that its larger rivals have been pressed to respond to.

On Feb. 13, Verizon Wireless introduced More Everything, an update to its wireless plans that seem made to encourage current subscribers to stay put, offering them more for the same price. In addition to increasing data caps and offering more cloud storage, Verizon added unlimited international messaging to its unlimited domestic text, picture and video messaging offer.

In a statement, Verizon called More Everything a "leap forward."

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