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Mobile Operator Three UK Delays eSIM Support AGAIN to 2022

Thursday, September 30th, 2021 (8:31 am) - Score 16,824

First they launched it, then they “put a short pause” on the deployment and said it was just a trial, before adding that it would arrive in “early 2021“, which in January 2021 became “later this year” (here). Mobile operator Three UK has now indicated that eSIM support for 4G and 5G handsets will not arrive until 2022.

Normally, the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card that you insert into a handset will contain a tiny chip that authenticates your identity to a mobile operator. Such cards can also store a basic list of your contacts, although online contact lists have largely superseded that feature on modern devices.

But a growing number of new Smartphones, and also Smartwatches (wearables), are now shipping with eSIM as an option, which essentially embeds an electronic SIM into your device and that could make it easier to switch between carriers via multiple account support (i.e. no more waiting for new SIM cards to arrive or fiddling with different ones when trying to change network). At least that’s the idea, but in practice it hasn’t always worked out that way.

After a long wait, mobile operator Three UK finally appeared to be introducing limited eSIM support last September 2020 (here), but feedback from consumers suggests that this was a somewhat muddled affair, and by December 2020 they had opted to put a “short pause” on its deployment. But that “short pause” now looks set to last even longer.

Upon enquiring about the status of eSIM support, one of Three UK’s customers (Nic) was this week told: “Following a successful trial in a small number of our stores, we’re pleased to say that we’ll be launching eSIM on handsets in 2022. We don’t have an exact date right now, but rest assured we’ll inform you when it’s available for both consumer and business customers.” We chased this up and got a similar response.

A Spokesperson for Three UK told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We’re working to bring it to market as soon as possible – likely next year.”

At present nobody is saying when in 2022 it will be launched and, once again, there’s no mention of support for wearables in there. The wait for eSIM is now rapidly becoming almost as bad as the wait for Virgin Media (VMO2) to finally introduce IPv6 support to their network, although that issue has been running for several years longer.

Rival operators including O2, Vodafone and EE (BT) have had eSIM support for a while, albeit with varying different levels of support (i.e. it’s sometimes only enabled for selected devices).

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    The key phrase here is “that could make it easier to switch between carriers via multiple account support”

  2. Gary H says:

    I was going to go trawling for info but maybe someone here has a quick explanation as why three seem to be struggling with e-sim ?

    1. Bubbles says:


    2. MattP79 says:

      Something I’m curious about too. I
      “exchanged” my physical SIM for an eSIM on Vodafone just an hour or so ago. It wasn’t totally straight-forward I.e. I requested what I expected to be an immediate on-screen QR code, but the QR code was emailed less than 5 mminutes later. In theory no one could call me for several minutes but..! it did work perfectly. My Pixel 5 is now enabled and the physical SIM in my retiring Samsung is unprovisioned (as it should be.) Surely eSIMs are more cost effective than manufacturing an SIM, packaging it, shipping it and hoping it is authenticated to an account before it expires and needs to be eWaste?

  3. Leave a Reply says:

    Can someone buy them and then shutdown?

  4. LJM says:

    Three are a shambles. Poor IT. Poor app. Poor network. Poor customer service. No more Go Roam. No more loyalty offers. No more Go Binge. No more ‘standing up for consumers’ and ‘making it right’. Flip-flopping on e-sim, no support for apple watches. Absolutely zero bells and whistles. Only reason to be with them now would be if you want to absolutely hammer the unlimited data – which won’t help profitability – or network quality.

  5. Ad47uk says:

    How on earth can an esim make it easier to switch between carriers? It is easy enough to get a Pac number or what ever they call it these days, give it to your new carrier and then they send you a sim. I hate the idea of Esim, certainly now that major U.K mobile network providers have now reintroduced roaming charges in e.U countries, esims will make it impossible for people just to get s sim card to use in other countries.

    To be honest I have not seen any phones in the U.K. with an Esim, certainly not for sale and I would certainly not buy one, since as far as I know, none of the virtual providers support them. Also, how many of the other large provider support esims?

    1. WillPS says:

      Guessing you haven’t heard of that niche brand Apple and their up and coming iPhones. Big in the States I hear.

      As for the competition, eSIM would allow you to take the service you have bought straight away, with no need to faff about waiting on post and twiddling with SIM opening tools.

    2. Yoric says:

      You obviously don’t know how they work then. The do the complete opposite of what you’re moaning about.

    3. Dapo says:

      Phones have it in the UK for awhile.
      You don’t have to use an esim and you can continue using your old school sim.

      it will make changing a LOT easier.

    4. Q says:


      This global esim comparison is so cheap I cancelled my regular UK service and have a global esim to use. As long as you are happy with whatsapp calls there is no need to have anything else!

  6. Oliver says:

    Voxi, which used to say on their website that eSIM support was planned and would be available in the future, have quietly dropped any mention of eSIM on their website.

  7. John McHale says:

    We had to move to O2 from Three purely because of no Esim for our apple watches, hating being with O2 their coverage is terrible and their customer service… well it does not exist with O2. COME ON THREE sort it out so we can come back to you!!! its nearly 2022 not 1992!!!

  8. TrueFibre says:

    I am all for the big change from Normal SIM to eSIM manly because of SIM swap fraud I know people that’s happened to. But at the same time there not thinking about the elderly and disabled people our vulnerable community.

  9. Paula Cruickshank says:

    Desperate for an eSim so that I can put my company (they don’t offer esim) sim in my iphone11 and use my personal Three account via eSim on the same handset. For some reason the iPhone 11 pro only has one sim slot despite being dual sim enabled.

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