T-Mobile CEO Tweets Carrier Relationships with Apple SIM

Posted by at 12:14 pm on October 27, 2014

In light of the news that AT&T is locking down the Apple SIM card if used in its network, T-Mobile CEO comment on the complex relationship between carriers and the SIM. Legere issued a “tweetstorm” explaining how each of the four major carriers in the United States approaches the technology differently.

Pointing out that the Apple SIM was created to enable consumer choice, it’s complicated by different purchasing options and requirements of the carriers. According to Legere consumers can purchase the new iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 3 through the Apple store with the new SIM, but only T-Mobile and Sprint have embraced the technology. While AT&T is one of the three carrier options the Apple SIM allows, it was revealed earlier that it locks the SIM to its service. Verizon doesn’t even allow use of the SIM, instead forcing customers to use its common SIM card.

This is complicated by devices purchased directly from carriers, as AT&T and T-Mobile devices come preconfigured for their respective networks on the Apple SIM. Purchases from Sprint and Verizon are equipped with the carrier’s SIM, leaving consumers to replace them if they wish to connect to another carrier. Legere adds that carriers can’t even acquire the non-configured SIMs from Apple for replacements, so many changes would require a SIM swap presumably outside of T-Mobile or in some Sprint cases.

Even though AT&T locks the Apple SIM to its network, Sprint could be worse in certain situations by Legere’s statements. If an iPad is purchased at a different carrier store then a consumer attempts to bring it to Sprint, the device will not activate. This is because Sprint requires the device IMEI to be in its network registry to work. Even if a non-configured Apple SIM is used, a Sprint customer will have to jump through some hoops to get the IMEI added to the registry.

Legere noted that the Apple SIM was a “smart move on Apple’s part” since it “expands and enhances their position in the mobile ecosystem.” However, there will be things to adjust to in order to embrace the change Apple is presenting. Legere believes it’s something carriers will need to figure out as time passes.

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