The eSIM entrepreneur guide to eSIM provider due diligence

Looking to launch an eSIM business, but not sure where to start? We've come up with 16 questions you should ask when selecting your perfect eSIM provider (and we won't be offended if you don't choose eSIM Go!)

With an increasingly crowded field of potential eSIM providers, all promising the world, use this eSIM provider checklist to evaluate how they perform in the following areas and more:

  • Quality and choice of eSIM products
  • How far they prioritize the customer experience (CX) for your customers
  • Business model flexibility that fits your business as you scale and evolve
  • The essential attributes of a trusted partner you can learn from and collaborate with
Quality

Look for connectivity with tier 1 mobile networks, 5G coverage and multiple networks per country/territory.

Are their eSIMs based solely on tier 1 mobile networks?

Tier 1 mobile networks (e.g. Vodafone, Telefonica, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc.) are the gold standard, known for their reliability, extensive signal coverage, high quality service and good network performance. They are distinct from Tier 2 and Tier 3 carriers, typically smaller regional or local operators with fewer resources and coverage, and lesser reputation for quality and reliability.

Tier 1 networks denote reliable, high quality eSIMs. Scrutinize eSIM providers for their coverage of tier 1 operator networks, ideally everywhere but especially in your top target countries.

Do they offer multi-network eSIMs in key countries/ territories?

A multi-network (or ‘multi-net’) eSIM will select the strongest network available. This is extremely important for customer satisfaction. For example, a customer in Germany on Vodafone may experience signal loss within a network dead spot and be unable to connect. A multi-network eSIM automatically switches them to another network such as DT or O2.

Multi-network eSIMs keep customers connected and consuming data, which also reflects positively on your brand. Your eSIM provider should be able to equip you with multi-net eSIMs in your target territories.

Can they offer various different bundles on one eSIM?

The ultimate in consumer convenience with a travel eSIM is installing it once and having it work automatically in the countries you visit. Believe it or not, some eSIM providers require end customers to switch to a new eSIM every time they use a different bundle.

Check that your eSIM provider makes it super-easy for your customers to stick to a single eSIM profile for multiple needs. Your users shouldn’t be forced to manage multiple profiles for topping up data or adding extra countries/regions every time.

Do they offer good coverage of 5G networks where rolled out?

Customers want the fastest network connectivity, which means 5G where it is available – especially if 5G is what customers are used to at home. With 5G speeds much faster than 4G, the difference also makes it more commercially attractive for you. The faster the connection, the faster customers will go through their eSIM data – increasing how much they buy.

5G isn’t just the future, it’s right now. Ask prospective eSIM providers for their 5G coverage maps to ensure your customers aren’t stuck in the slow lane.

Choice

Look for good global coverage, regional options and a wide choice of data bundle sizes.

Do they provide worldwide coverage?

Maximize your addressable customer market with access to eSIM bundles in all your target destinations. You’ll need a partner that spans the globe with affordable, competitive, high-quality coverage everywhere.

Choose an eSIM provider with truly global coverage (190+ countries) to maximize eSIM sales opportunities.

Do they offer a good variety of eSIM data bundle sizes and regional options?

Offering different bundle sizes (e.g. in increments from 1GB up to 50GB, plus various unlimited options) increases conversion by giving different customers the choices they want. It’s the same with regional bundles, for those customers moving around rather than staying in the same place. This variety allows you to differentiate, offer eSIM top-up options, upsell/cross-sell and utilize innovative pricing strategies too.

Evaluate eSIM providers’ choice of bundle sizes and regional packages to see who’s best positioned to let you monetize every customer need.

Customer Experience

Look for evidence of an easy, enjoyable CX, a positive customer reputation, low fault rates and excellent customer support.

Do they employ “network steering”?

Network steering slows down the customer experience and can make that first eSIM connection take minutes instead of seconds. It’s extremely common. You might think there’s no way around this, but in fact not all eSIM providers insist on network steering. Zero network steering ensures your customers are getting their eSIMs assigned swiftly.

Network steering can compromise the customer experience and reduce satisfaction. Pick an eSIM provider with zero network steering to increase customer loyalty.

Is it easy to top-up?

When customers run out of data, make it easy for them to buy more. Some eSIM providers struggle with this, treating each eSIM bundle as a new purchase instead of keeping it simple and streamlining the CX. This causes annoyance and frustration, especially when customers hear how easy the top-up experience is from rival eSIM players. Don’t fall into the trap of making your customers manage multiple eSIMs instead of just one that’s flexible and can be topped up easily.

Test each eSIM provider’s top-up experience for yourself. If it’s not slick and seamless, you need to look elsewhere.

Do they have a good Trustpilot score?

Seeking independent third-party validation of the customer experience is an essential part of the eSIM provider checklist. Look for the highest scores possible on sources like Trustpilot and take time to read reviews from verified users to check they’re genuine. As many review sites are B2C (rather than B2B) you should also take a look at your prospective eSIM provider’s client base and check out their Trustpilot scores too.

Do a comparison of eSIM providers’ end customer scores from respected sources. Consistently high scores should stand out.

Can they facilitate a refund policy that doesn’t lose you money?

Sometimes customers will buy an eSIM in error, or never end up using it, and would like a refund. With the right eSIM provider you never have to bear this cost. For example, allowing grace periods after eSIMs have been purchased so that these can be returned to your inventory without charge.

Inspect each eSIM provider’s refund policy. A good refund provision minimizes customer churn and strengthens your brand at zero cost.

Can they evidence low faults and high customer support KPIs?

Obtain all fault KPIs and reports of service faults for the last 12–24 months – the best eSIM providers will be crystal clear on their support levels and proud to show them off! Partners who say it’s confidential and can’t be shared are waving a red flag. Find out as much as you can about their support organizations – e.g. Net Promoter Scores, SLAs, etc. – are you happy to trust them with customers who need help and give them a great experience?

Scrutinize the available support data and uptime stats from prospective eSIM providers. If they stonewall your request, they’re probably hiding something.

Partnership Value

Look for a trustworthy partner that drives real business value (whoever you are), is committed to continuous improvement, and transparent about technical performance and commercial matters.

Can you fully self-serve and is it easy?

Depending on your business, you’ll either want total autonomy to control all your eSIM services yourself, a more active partnership with plenty of expert guidance and handholding, or something in between. A good set-up is a complete self-service eSIM management portal with ready access to extra help and advice whenever you need it. Get a trial on their platforms and put it to the test – does it let you do everything you need 24/7?

Choose a partner with easy, comprehensive self-service and management to minimize friction and let you operate as autonomously as you want.

Do they offer a variety of engagement models?

Your eSIM provider should be flexible with a range of ways of working together (i.e. “engagement models”) that you can choose and migrate between, depending on your internal resources and go-to-market strategy. Some eSIM providers are best suited to businesses with their own in-house software development; others offer a wholesale approach based around API integration, or even a simple affiliate route. Be 100% comfortable that the model works for you, and that you can evolve toward other models should you want to.

Avoid getting railroaded into a one-size-fits-all model that suits the eSIM provider but not you. Ensure you can see a clear route to launching, scaling and evolving your venture at your chosen pace and direction.

Are their rates competitive?

You want the best rates possible for the best quality eSIMs. They should be consistently competitive so you can be confident in your margins.s. Rate volatility can indicate that the eSIM provider lacks commercial control and buying power. Ask to see a summary of any rate and commercial changes in the past 12 months.

Identifying the eSIM providers with the most consistently competitive rates will help you maximize current and future margin opportunities with minimal hassle.

Can you partner on a no risk, no commitment basis?

Capitalizing on eSIM opportunities shouldn’t mean large upfront investments and long-term commitments. But this is what some eSIM providers insist upon in exchange for giving access to their eSIM products and services. There is little technical justification for it – instead organizations should be able to start out on a no risk, no commitment basis.

Check exactly what’s required of you to start with each eSIM provider, before you decide to work with them. Don’t underestimate the value of being able to learn and experiment without overheads holding you back.

Can they share their 12-month roadmap?

The eSIM industry is moving fast, so eSIM providers must demonstrate foresight and adaptability in their planning. Any worthwhile partner will be willing to share 12 months of their roadmap and able to show their commitment to continuous improvement.

Select a partner who’s happy to share their 12-month roadmap – it bodes well for a successful long-term relationship. And scrutinize the content to check it’s anticipating and keeping pace with market change.

This is just a starting point to help you identify a good potential eSIM provider.

For more detailed advice on what to look for, with expert insights from successful eSIM businesses who’ve been on your journey, check out our Looking for an eSIM provider guide here.