But now that appears to be changing.
Obviously, having a mobile network on your watch is very interesting. Especially when the watch is called the Apple Watch, and the only carriers that support it are Telia and Telenor.
Until now, it has been impossible to access the mobile via the so-called eSIM on the Apple Watch with some small operators in the country. This also applies if you have an iPhone that works fine with these other carriers. The exception is Onecall, but it is known to be owned by Telia.
The competitive situation is so special that the National Telecommunications Authority (Nkom) has chosen to pursue Telenor, which it can organize, plus it has held meetings with Apple.
The price differences between Norway’s largest operators, Telenor and Telia, and the smaller operators can be significant, as our ongoing subscription evaluations show. There, as a rule, major operators price themselves well outside the top menus.
And now that it might be possible to get a cheap mobile subscription and an Apple Watch with an eSIM, we have to believe Thomas Sandaker at Happybytes, who says he’ll also be offering the service from the fall.
Sandaker Tek.no reported that the operator is now changing its operating system and thus can offer its own services in the Telenor network:
– Without being able to go into details, it’s about switching from SP to MVNO.
The acronyms stand for Service Provider and Mobile Virtual Network Operator respectively.
– We’ll be a virtual miniature version of Ice, technically speaking. This means that we have the opportunity to add and price completely new and separate services, unlike what we have today, says Happybytes Director.
– Why is this happening now?
– This has to do with development. There is a relatively strong tech platform behind it. We should have finished by now, but we’re somewhat late, says Sandecker, who also notes that until now, Apple has made an exclusive agreement with Telenor and Telia regarding an eSIM for the Apple Watch.
That’s not true, according to Telenor Magnus CIO Line Isaksen.
– This is not about exclusivity. We are aware that over time, wholesale customers have requested the option to sell their Apple Watch with an eSIM on an equal footing with mobile network operators. Apple has its own solution for buying and activating the eSIM Twin for the Apple Watch, and with the associated technical requirements, it has proven difficult to make the service available in the wholesale market.
Among other things, Apple Watch Dual Service must be sold through the Apple app. It is technically difficult to achieve for wholesale customers due to the way their subscriptions to the Norwegian mobile network are defined. Among other things, they use the same network IDs and smartphone configurations as the host operator, Isaksen says.
Since last winter, we’ve been working with wholesale customers, the National Communications Commission, and Apple to discover how we can solve challenges. The upshot is that Telenor has to make some changes on its part so that Apple Watch wholesale customers can be serviced with an eSIM. At the same time, wholesale customers themselves must develop an application to sell and activate dual service for the Apple Watch. They should do this in cooperation with Apple.
In Telia, they are much less talkative.
Telia, OneCall and Phonero currently support eSIM on Apple Watch. Unfortunately, we can’t answer questions about our agreement with Apple, so why don’t other players provide that, you almost have to contact Apple about, perhaps, other players, Telia’s communication consultant Ellen Scheen writes in an email.
However, there is a fundamental difference between Telia and Telenor in the Norwegian mobile market. Telenor is defined as a player with a “strong market position”, and therefore it is obliged to give competitors access to its mobile network – on the same terms that they themselves offer to their customers, explains division manager Inger Vollstad in the competition division of the National Telecom Authority ( Nkom).
Telia does not have these requirements. At the end of 2021, Telenor had a meager 44 percent market share, while Telia had just under 35 percent, according to the Nkom review.
In light of Telenor’s market position, we followed up over time with Telenor whether it would be possible for them to offer eSIM functionality to external wholesale customers, ie the possibility for end users of wholesale customers to allow the Apple Watch to communicate over the mobile network, Vollstad says.
We indicated to Telenor’s answer that this is difficult to achieve, and that the competitors themselves should develop systems and enter into agreements with Apple. Vollstad responds to this as follows:
– Nkom saw reason to follow this up closely. Among other things, since the ability to offer eSIM functionality on the Apple Watch is in some cases an important competitive parameter in the mobile market. So we also called Apple directly, and asked them a number of questions.
Vollstad notes that Nkom has an ongoing correspondence with Apple, and a meeting with the company in June.
We clearly understand that today’s wholesale customers must enter into a separate agreement with Apple, as well as system integration with Apple’s systems in order to be able to offer eSIM functionality to their customers. It adds that getting this in place is time consuming and expensive, and probably won’t be cost-effective for a smaller operator.
The waiting period for this to be done is relatively long, and it can take up to two years.
Vollstad explains that Apple is not regulated by competition at Nkom. Therefore, the body cannot claim them in the same way that it can on Telenor.
Nkom will continue to follow up on this matter with Apple, and based on the dialogue in the last meeting with them, we believe the situation will be better in this area next summer.
Apple did not want to comment on our questions about the eSIM on the Apple Watch. They indicate an overview of the operators they work with on their websites. For Norway, it only includes Telia, Telenor and Onecall.
We got an answer from Ice that they are also working on eSIM access on Apple Watch:
-Obviously this is something our customers will get too, but unfortunately I don’t have an appointment for that right now. Reynir Johannesson, Director of Communications at Ice, explains that we have an eSIM for other types of smartwatches and are constantly expanding the offer to customers.
Did you know there is an exclusive agreement between Apple, Telenor and Telia?
– I’m not aware of any exclusivity, no.
At Chilimobil, too, they are very quiet about development.
– This is something we are working on as well, unfortunately no date has been set yet. We were early with an eSIM for our clients, so we’re betting we’ll hit here and Chilimobil CEO Lars Ryen Mill responds.
When asked if they knew of any exclusives about the Apple Watch and eSIM, we might get a vague confirmation in Norway’s history from the chief of Chili:
– I can guarantee it will be an exciting fall.
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