The Netherlands approve use of SIM cards that are not locked to just one provider

We have all heard about smartphones that are "unlocked". That term applies to phones that allow users to remove their SIM card so they can get a new one that will connect to another carrier. However, what if users were able to switch wireless providers on their phone without having to switch their SIM card?

That's what regulators in The Netherlands approved of a few days ago. GigaOM reports that from now on in that part of the world, companies can issue SIM cards without a tie-in with one provider. This could allow for a lot more freedom for consumers to switch providers mid-stream to get the best coverage.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the technology needed to make a programmable SIM card still needs some work. Then there's the fact that agnostic SIM cards are still illegal in most parts of the world, including the U.S.

However, the prospect of a SIM card that's not tied down to one provider does open up the idea that smartphone manufacturers could issue their own cards. This could eliminate the third party carrier concept and then Apple, Samsung and perhaps Microsoft could directly provide users with their chat, data and phone service. We will soon see if this new SIM card will promote legislation that will free smartphone users of traditional carriers altogether.

Source: GigaOM | SIM card image via Shutterstock

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I'm not sure how a portable SIM card would lead to the conclusion suggested in the article; that the OEMs could cut the carriers out of the mix. SIM cards are a mobile security device designed specifically for carriers to identify the subscriber, hence the name Subscriber Identity Module... As such, you can't have a SIM card without a carrier and you can't have a carrier without a SIM card (or more generically a way to identify the subscriber).

OEMs could already create a competitor to carriers without using SIM cards if they like, but the problem isn't with SIM cards. The problem is with building infrastructure that is almost ubiquitous in its availability and extremely portable.

This kind of advancement would make it a lot easier for users to switch carriers as there is far less friction (in theory you could swap carriers without leaving the couch) and is likely to increase competition among them, but it won't eliminate them.

I'm a bit perplexed as to how this new type of sim card is suddenly going to build infrastructure for Apple or Samsung ?

This isn't new, Apple proposed a sim free phone a few years ago which would enable similar switching but carriers still have a lot of pull and the idea never came to fruition. Seems the Netherlands might legislate for what carriers have long opposed.

Carriers have a horrendous stronghold of the market in the US but in Europe it is much better: in many Countries is even illegal to sell locked devices.

Depicus said,
I'm a bit perplexed as to how this new type of sim card is suddenly going to build infrastructure for Apple or Samsung ?

This isn't new, Apple proposed a sim free phone a few years ago which would enable similar switching but carriers still have a lot of pull and the idea never came to fruition. Seems the Netherlands might legislate for what carriers have long opposed.


CMDA is sim-card-less if that's what you mean.
Cosmocronos said,
Carriers have a horrendous stronghold of the market in the US but in Europe it is much better: in many Countries is even illegal to sell locked devices.

Just france has that law.

Means cell phones and their contracts will multiply.

Some people get long term expensive contracts so they can pose with a G4 latest all singing-all-dancing cell phone.

Me, I don't have a cell phone and don't want one.

If I did I can buy one with £5 free credit that sends and recieves calls and texts for £5.

We have something similar in Denmark. You can change your number over your providers website without having to order a new one.

but something like that would be awesome to have!