When Apple announced (quietly) the arrival of the Apple SIM about a week ago, many thought that it was a nifty idea. After all, having a SIM card that allows people to easily switch between multiple carriers would really come in handy. No more replacing SIM cards when needed, no more buying new ones when you are not satisfied with the previous one's coverage.
It really is a nifty idea. But then here comes AT&T. Apparently when users select the carrier when using the Apple SIM, the device gets locked to the AT&T network.
Currently, the Apple SIM is compatible with four wireless carriers: AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the United States, and EE in the United Kingdom. (If you are wondering why Verizon is not joining the party, well you are not alone.) You should be able to easily switch between these carriers in finding the service that best suits your wireless needs.
Except for AT&T of course. Apparently when you select the carrier, a notification shows up saying to the effect that once you pick this carrier option, the Apple SIM can only be used exclusively with AT&T. Furthermore, the notification is reminding users that should they change carriers in the future, they will have to get a new Apple SIM.
Naturally, many are scratching their heads at this latest development. After all, what is the point of having a SIM card with multiple carrier compatibility if it gets locked down to one specific network when activated?
AT&T for its part has confirmed that they are actually doing this. As to why, it is not expounding much on the subject, other than saying that it is just how they chose to approach using the Apple SIM.
Perhaps it is not so surprising that AT&T is doing this. After all, an idea of a multi-carrier SIM card could pose problems for wireless carriers, especially when it encourages buyers to buy a smartphone directly from Apple, as opposed to getting the from the carrier themselves. Additionally, carriers are conditioned to keep their customers to their own networks, so the idea of a multi-carrier SIM card would be something that is against their interests.
Conversely, if the Apple SIM takes off, it would do wonders for consumers, simply by compelling carriers to offer better pricing for their plans in order to remain competitive in a multi-carrier-SIM-using market.
For now, the Apple SIM is only used for the iPad, so maybe carriers can breathe easy for now. As for AT&T -- well, why not do something about it now while it still can?
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