Jio claims that Airtel’s eSIM support for Apple Watch Series 3 LTE edition is illegal

Reliance Jio has made some huge accusations against Airtel, claiming that the telecom giant is violating certain license conditions, which could lead to a data breach. Jio has said that Airtel is using a network of international nodes to offer services for the Apple Watch Series 3 and that this could compromise user data.

As per The Economic Times, in a letter, addressed to the DoT (Department of Telecommunication), Jio explained that Airtel has not set up an “eSIM provisioning node” in India for the Apple Watch and that this was in “gross violation to the license terms”. Airtel has denied all the charges.

But before we go any further we need to understand what exactly Jio means by eSIM and nodes. The Apple Watch Series 3 LTE model can connect to cellular networks, but doesn’t depend on SIM cards for enabling cellular connectivity. Instead, it uses something called an eSIM.

The eSIM is smaller than a nanoSIM and is embedded directly into the device. It’s part of the device’s circuitry. The iPhone and the Apple Watch of the user will share the same number. The important part here is that while pairing the two devices, over-the-air provisioning of the eSIM in the Apple Watch is carried out. What this means is that a dedicated network node or a network endpoint for the eSIM is created, which contains the network and user information.

Now the report has said that as per the Unified License (UL), all network providers are mandated to put network nodes and elements inside the country. Therefore, as per Jio, Airtel is in violation of this license as it has stored eSIM provisioning nodes outside the country.

The letter by Jio, as reported by ET, states that “Airtel has deliberately chosen to install a critical network element outside India for a service being offered under the Access Services License (which) indicates its blatant disregard for the sanctity of the license terms and conditions including important security conditions.”

As such, in the letter, Jio has asked the DoT to put a temporary ban on the sale of any Apple Watch 3 which is connected to the Airtel network and lift the ban only “upon complying with the requirements of national security and addressing the violations of the license terms and conditions”.

Airtel, on the other hand, has reportedly responded by saying that this is “another frivolous complaint by a desperate operator, whose sole aim appears to have a monopoly over everything that they do”.  The ET report also stated that as per Airtel, all customer information, network nodes, etc., are kept and managed only in India. However, the eSIM inventory information is placed outside of India and as per the report, this is a practice that is common globally.

Airtel had announced a partnership with Apple for its Watch Series 3 in India on 24 April and keeping up with the competition, Reliance Jio had also announced a partnership with Apple for its Watch Series 3 on the same day. The Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE is available to purchase on Amazon India at Rs 28,889.

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