Monday 29 September 2008

SIM-free option for LTE

Dean Bubley, in a post in Seeking Alpha has proposed a SIM-free option for LTE. I have heard this being discussed before in some forums but have not seen yet any concrete steps by 3G to address this issue.

Let me be clear that I fully support the SIM based option which gives you convinience to change handsets while keeping the same number and also easily move between different operators by getting Porting codes (PAC codes in UK) but sometimes when you are travelling or in between places the SIM free option allows you to use Pay as you Go services from the device of your choice. So rather than being tied down to the SIM you will be tied down to the device (Laptop or Handset).

If this option is not available it would still be possible by a service provider to provide you a service based on the device IMEI but the extra 'Access technology based' security would not be there. This means that you would be relying completely on the IP security which should generally not be an issue since this is not very different than what you would use in case of accessing web through your workplace or from a cafe. Also since this option requires extra customisation of LTE based technology which is not standardised by standards, service providers may be a bit reluctant to use this approach.

Alternatively, service providers may go for alternative technologies like WiMAX and WiFi. All laptops have WiFi inbuilt and it wont be long before WiMAX option is available. WiMAX dongles may come in handly for times like these. These technologies dont require any SIM cards so it may be simpler for people to use this.

By not providing the SIM-free option for LTE, there may not be much impact from Laptop users who dont care which technology they use as their hardware is generally capable of supporting quite a few options but it may impact the smartphone user market. These smartphone users who have time to kill on the airports or hotels may make use of their time by registering their phone to a local service provider and then making cheap international calls and browsing via their handset. They may not have to worry about hunting for cyber cafes and even if they find one worrying about the spyware, etc trying to grab passwords/pins on the PCs being used.

Over the next year we will have to wait and see if operators or device manufacturers or service providers are going to propose this option and once it is proposed it would be interesting to see how many people oppose it :)

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