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Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone both claim eSIM first with BMW

BMW is adding a personal eSIM to the BMW iX and both DT and Vodafone are claiming to be first to market with the add-on that makes it work.

Nothing unusual about that, you might say; telcos make spurious first-to-market claims all the time. Well yes, but normally, they don’t do it on the same day and issue the exact same press release, almost word-for-word.

“The BMW Group is the first premium manufacturer to bring 5G to a globally available production vehicle and Deutsche Telekom is offering the matching 5G connectivity for cars for the first time,” the incumbent announced.

Similarly: “With the BMW iX, the BMW Group is the first premium manufacturer to bring the 5G mobile communications standard into a series vehicle that is available worldwide, and Vodafone is also offering the first 5G mobile communications contract for a vehicle,” opened its rival’s German-language release; the translation comes courtesy of Google.

Both announcements go on to explain that adding a personal eSIM to the car means that it can effectively be turned into another networked device for the customer. Both use the example that it works “like a smartwatch.” Customers just need to buy the right option to activate it: either MobilityConnect from Deutsche Telekom or Vodafone OneNumber Car.

Thanks to the high bandwidth and low latency provided by 5G, the car can offer better quality telephony and a 5G WiFi hotspot that can be used by up to 10 devices in the vehicle, the telcos point out. In addition, the Personal eSIM is linked to the customer’s BMW ID and can therefore be used in any eSIM-enabled vehicle.

All good points, but so very similar that the same person must have written both announcements. Presumably that person works for BMW, but if not, there’s something very strange going on here from a PR point of view.

Anyway, back to the Beamer. The BMW iX is the German car maker’s flagship electric SUV and is due to launch in November. And when it does, it will bring with it the ability for customers to extend their existing mobile contracts to their car.

The Personal eSIM is in addition to the vehicle eSIM we have started to see in cars, which enables the car to communicate with other vehicles and systems. Dual-SIM-Dual-Active technology allows both to be fully active and connected to 5G at the same time. The 5G Personal eSIM is akin to those used in tablets and smartphones, and promises entertainment and infotainment applications.

Despite their virtually identical press announcements, there is one key difference between the Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone integrated car connectivity offers: price.

Both will launch special tariff options “as soon as the BMW iX is available on the market.” Deutsche Telekom’s MobilityConnect is priced at €9.95 per month, while Vodafone OneNumber Car comes in at half that: €5 per month. Both will apply to the iX and to other later enabled models from BMW.

Vodafone is charging a €10 activation fee, but customers can cancel on a monthly basis. Deutsche Telekom is tying in users for a one-year period.

So, as is so often the way in this industry, there’s little to pick between the telcos from a technological perspective, but some are more expensive than others.


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