One of the best things that capitalism brought into the world is the presence of competition between businesses of the same nature. I’m not saying that I espouse capitalism (I actually have some reservations about it on certain points), but this nature of competition has encouraged businesses to find ways to gain an edge on their competitors either by lowering the prices of their goods or by developing technological advantages in their products.
Telecommunications is one of the markets that has greatly benefited from competition and advanced markedly in terms of both product cost and technology. The cost of purchasing and using phones has dropped steadily since the generations when public manual exchanges and pulse dialing were the state-of-the-art. The technology behind telecommunications has improved to the point where the world is now almost wholly interconnected by the border-less expanse of the internet, where information exists “in the cloud” and is accessible in mere seconds, and being “connected” has become and continues to become less of a privilege and more of a must. Still, telecommunications providers continue to compete fiercely with each other, especially in the realm of mobile telecommunications technologies.
A recent technological advancement that has come primarily from China is the evolution and development of the multi SIM mobile phone. As some of our readers from North America might not be familiar with the concept of the SIM card, let me go ahead and explain the basics of the technology. Subscriber Identity Modules or SIM cards store the information required by a network to authenticate and identify subscribers on the network. These are little cards that are inserted into a mobile phone which then uses the information on the SIM to interact with network infrastructure. SIMs give consumers the advantage of using their phones with different providers as they see fit by simply changing the card in the phone, as opposed to the one phone – one provider format used by CDMA networks.
Multi SIM phones allow consumers to use two or more SIM cards in one phone. This simply means that one no longer has to have two phones to hold two SIMs from two different providers at the same time. Multi standby phones keep each SIM card active and each number can send and receive text messages and make calls at anytime. Users can also receive phone calls at anytime on each number. Because of this, owning and using multiple numbers is simplified. This attribute of multi SIM phones also provides a number of other rather less obvious benefits.
One benefit is the freedom to take advantage of the strengths of different networks with one phone. Take for example the situation in the Philippines, where there are three different major wireless carrier networks. One offers unlimited calls and text at impossibly low rates, the other provides stellar wireless internet connections, and the third is unmatched in terms of signal coverage. Owning a tri-standby, tri-SIM phone would allow someone to use all the best qualities of the three networks.
Another overlooked benefit of the flexibility of multi SIM phones is that it allows a traveler to keep their home network’s SIM active and on roaming, but purchase a SIM at their destination country to take advantage of the lower cost of using a local network natively as well.
There are also the benefits of having different functions for different numbers. If your company provides you with a corporate phone number, you can use both the SIM provided by the company and your own personal SIM card at the same time. Most multi SIM phones also come with the option to keep separate inboxes and and logs for each SIM, so organization shouldn’t be a problem as well.
So why haven’t major mobile phone manufacturers started to produce more mainstream multi SIM phones? The answer is simple: competition. Service providers often lock the phones they provide so that consumers can only use their SIM cards on their phones, so many, if not all, providers will neither support nor promote multi SIM usage, as it is bad business strategy to give incentives to the consumer to use a competitor’s service as well.
Multi SIM usage is mainly a consumer-centric approach to mobile phone design. It comes from the understanding that the consumer is the king and gives back to the user the right to do as he pleases with the devices that he owns.
Multi SIM phones in all shapes and sizes are available at remarkably low prices from many Chinese wholesale electronics stores.