The Apple SIM & Google Fi – How wireless tech will free Australians

Mobile phone coverage can at times be a fickle thing depending on where you are located, often depending on if you are located in an urban city or a rural area of Australia.

Even if your network carrier has decent coverage in your area, it can be a different story when you move to a more rural location or are on trying to access the network in transit, heading to work or travelling.

Sure you can access other network carriers which have better network coverage in different areas of Australia, but it can be a hassle switching SIM cards if you are a regular traveller.

Besides this, other network providers might be more expensive, have less features or you are just not interested in paying for more than one network carrier each month.

It would be pretty good if you could just switch carriers on the fly in real time, whenever you wanted allowing you to receive the best service and prepaid deals on offer.

This unfortunately is limited by the physical SIM cards which are currently in use in Australia. To receive the best connectivity and prepaid or SIM only deal, you would need to carry around with you a fist full of different SIM cards.

The good news though is that in the near future you will be able to change carriers at the drop of a hat, all without the need for having to switch out a different SIM card, each time you want to switch your service provider.

eSIMs – What the future of a SIM cards looks like?

We have seen recently how the future could look with the introduction of the Apple SIM, a built in feature of their latest iPad which allows users to select from an internal SIM function. This will allow users to switch providers from the internal device SIM feature, without the need to bother with physical SIM cards. A similar internal SIM system has also been designed by Samsung and has been released in their latest Samsung Gear S2 wristwatch.

If you would like to see how widespread in Australia this exciting new technology could become, take a look at Google’s Project Fi, which is currently in operation in the United States. This latest project launched by Google is invite only and consists of a wireless service which uses the US carrier networks T-Mobile and Sprint, all depending on which network has the strongest connection strength at the time of connection. If local WiFi is open and available it will instead switch to that automatically from inside your smartphone or tablet device. A great feature is that it will also route your incoming and outgoing calls over the available WiFi network.

Instead of paying a monthly service fee to two different mobile carriers, you only pay one monthly subscription fee to Google and they take care of all the connectivity behind the scenes for you, leaving you to enjoy a simple to use and uninterrupted service.

How does Google’s Project Fi work?

Googles Project Fi is a slight advancement on the traditional plastic SIM card. While it’s more of the same and quite different from the in-built virtual e-SIM which features in the latest Apple iPad and Samsung Gear wristwatch, it is none the less something different. In a partnership with the German tech company G&D (Giesecke & Devrient), Google has rolled out to a select group of initial users, a new type of SIM card which is more like a micro computer, than a boring piece of plastic.

This new Google Fi SIM card allows more than one service provider to be programmed onto the chip, allowing consumers to have much more freedom of choice when it comes to which service provider and at what time to connect to. This new product from Google, will allow the real time of switching from one carrier to another, allowing the constant authentication of more than one tower at a time. These new Google Project Fi SIM cards work on both GSM and CDMA networks.

There are downsides to this new technology and one of which is that at this point in time, this new tech feature is restricted to Google manufactured Nexus phones and you must be chosen to take part in the beta stage trials.It’s overall a complex process with Google rolling out constant updates and bug fixes, but it’s interesting new technology and could be a serious competitor to both Apple and Samsung’s e-SIM offerings.

So far during the initial testing phase, Google only has a partnership deal with two US national carrier networks, with two large companies absent from the list. One can only wonder if they see this emerging tech hurting their bottom line and are not interested in working with Google, time will only tell.

Moving with the eSIM and wireless Market

Today there is a lot of buzz around the future of e-SIM technology and as consumers and users of smartphones, where we could end up in the near future. Will the traditional physical SIM card be replaced by the e-SIM or will the physical card simply evolve.

Google is not the only company developing new technologies in this space and even though they are a large company, they are up against some serious competition from both Samsung and Apple. Two companies which have been working in the telecommunications industry for many years.

Apple’s iPads are the first to feature the new e-SIM technology, as to are the Samsung Gear S2 wrist watch. Many experts agree that if these two devices receive positive reviews, it won’t be too long before this same functionality is rolled out to the next generation of smartphones.

Summing up the eSIM and Project Fi

If you have been paying attention to the developments in this space, it’s obvious that the writing is on the wall and that Google, Apple and Samsung have their own ambitions of being network service providers in the telco space.

It wont be too long before down under in Australia, the large tech giants will be giving our traditional network carriers a run for their money. With a marketplace getting smaller every month thanks to new players in the MVNO space, competition is sure to heat up.

The national carriers Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are not going to like this, but with a highly competitive market, they won’t have much choice. If consumers vote with their feet and move towards new tech which gives them more power and a better deal, the telco will have no choice but to follow.


Extra Resources – Articles of use to Prepaid Users

  • Prepaid plans now have streamed audio included in them :
    You may not be aware of one of the biggest improvements to prepaid plans since they were originally devised. 2016 saw the release of prepaid plans which have streamed audio included in them. If you already have a Spotify, iTunes Music, Google Music or IHeartRadio account, then you might like to find out more about streamed audio in phone plans.
  • Entertainment options are becoming common :
    You may also have started hearing about the increasing inclusion of entertainment options in prepaid and SIM Only phone plans. We also examine Optus’ mobile phone plan Entertainment options, Telstra’s mobile phone plan Entertainment options and compare the two.
  • Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month :
    We’ve given a short explanation on this page but if you want more detail on the types of phone plans in Australia, this is it. In Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month, we explain and the best value alternatives you have and when it makes sense to use each type.
  • Prepaid vs Postpaid –the simple trick to getting the best value :
    The tier 1 telcos ( Optus Telstra and Vodafone ) all have both prepaid and postpaid plans. Sometimes they have both types of plan at the same price point.
  • Does it make sense to buy a Phone myself and add a SIM ? :
    It’s often even cheaper to buy your own phone and add a SIM ( including a prepaid SIM ) to it. We explain how to go Buying a phone outright and adding a SIM.
  • Data Rollovers :
    Considering a plan with data rollover in it ? We explain why they’re not the real solution to the real problem with prepaid plans.

And, remember, before you buy, read the CIS (that’s the Critical Information Summary–a clearly written definition of what is and is not included in the plans from these phone companies) before you buy. You need to be confident in the plan you choose yourself. You’ll find the CIS on the Vodafone website.


Compare all of our prepaid plans

If you need another network, you might like to check our Best Prepaid Plans Page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. ) A list of best value plans using the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks.




Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.