Telkom enabled eSIM card support on its network on Tuesday, 24 August. The company said in a release that it “allows customers to activate a tariff plan from Telkom without having to use a physical SIM.” This means you can get a Telkom eSIM as a standalone SIM; it doesn’t have to be tied to a main physical SIM card as an extension, like what some networks do for wearables. An eSIM is an electronic or embedded SIM, i.e. it’s not physical.
And for those who are not aware, Telkom prepaid SIM cards are free. I got one earlier this year with a MiFi device that was sent to me in a press pack and all it required was an in-store visit to RICA to get a number. Telkom’s new prepaid eSIM card is currently also free and involves the same process; go to a Telkom store (not online) with your ID and proof of address for RICA and you will get an eSIM voucher pack.
Voucher pack is the term used in the press release like a starter pack, which has a QR code that you have to scan to enable the eSIM profile. You don’t have to buy a physical Telkom SIM and convert it to an eSIM.
If you want a Telkom eSIM on contract, there will be a cost involved because that’s how their postpaid accounts work; it carries a once-off SIM and connection fee. Based on the info I mentioned thus far, it’s obvious that Telkom is targeting customers from other networks who want to use their eSIM slots as a secondary data option but no wearables support just yet.
Telkom told Wired to the Web that the reason for this is you have to scan a QR code, and not all wearables are capable of doing that. It was also when I realised why other networks offered it on wearables initially; it would be tied to your main number. Therefore, keeping you in their ecosystem, and thus not allowing other networks to benefit from a device you got from them.
I sent Vodacom a mail on Tuesday, 17 August asking when they will offer eSIM support, and have not received a reply yet. But it makes sense now: If you’re not on Telkom and have a smartphone that supports an eSIM, you don’t need to wait for your network to offer it. You can get one for free with Telkom. If you want the same number on your smartphone and smartwatch, then you do it via your own network if supported.
HOW TO SET-UP A FREE TELKOM ESIM:
STEP 1: Go to a Telkom store with your ID and proof of address to RICA a free prepaid eSIM. Since it’s so new, I understand some stores are still waiting for stock of the voucher pack.
STEP 2: Use your smartphone with eSIM support to scan the QR Code to add the Telkom profile onto your handset. I did it on iPhone but will attempt to share Android based on what I’ve seen online. Unfortunately I don’t have an Android that supports an eSIM.
(If you ever used KnowRoaming, you would have gone through a process of installing another profile on your handset)
STEP 3: Your phone will now show you that it’s connected to Telkom Mobile, in addition to your existing network from the physical SIM. I was surprised by how quick and easy it was to set up.
For Telkom’s launch phase, these devices will be supported (they have eSIM capabilities). To clarify based on questions I got, it does not take up a physical SIM slot, it’s embedded. The phone has to have eSIM capabilities for it to work.
- iPhone Xs, Xr, 11, 12, 13 (including Pro and Pro Max)
- iPhone SE 2020 and 2022 (2nd and 3rd gen)
- Huawei P40 and Mate 40 (all models like Pro and Pro+)
- Samsung Note 20, and Galaxy S21, and Galaxy Z Fold2
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Series (Ultra, S22, S22 Plus), Z Fold 3, Z Flip 3
- iPad 7th gen upwards (Sep 2019).
HOW DOES IT WORK ON MY IPHONE
My phone now accommodates showing signal for two networks at any given time. The status bar looks a little different, and when I pull down my Shortcuts.
— Nafisa Akabor (@nafisa1) August 25, 2021
I can go into Mobile Data settings and toggle which network I want as my default voice line and data, and under Data Plans, I can toggle using data on it or not, including accessing more granular settings that you’d get for a single SIM. When dialling out, I can toggle between the networks on the same screen above the keypad.
I hope you found this helpful if you’re considering getting a free Telkom prepaid eSIM.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org