eSIM 5G – How To Purchase One Locally or As A Traveler


eSIM technology is going to be the way of the future no matter how you look at it. Currently there’s been a supply issue with microchips that are used for all sorts of things. To the point where certain car manufacturers weren’t able to produce their vehicles because they didn’t have enough chips for their mother boards. If cell phone manufacturers are able to bypass any type of supply shortage by going with eSIM phones you know that they are going to be all for it. We also talked a bit about how an eSIM 5G compatible isn’t necessarily easy to find across the globe. Even in countries where 5G networks are very much established. 

The easiest way to be able to get an eSIM 5G coverage and all is to get it through a postpaid contract with a local wireless service provider from wherever it is that you’re from. Now, if you’re traveling and you want 5G coverage, and you want to get that coverage through an eSIM that could be a lot harder to come by. There are a couple of reasons for this which we are going to get into shortly. Really what we want to explore are the realistic options that you’re going to have particularly when traveling or getting a prepaid plan. There are plenty of wireless service providers out there that have limited access to their 5G network only to those customers on prepaid plans. That’s potentially going to change quite a bit moving forward. Especially as 6G networks continue to be established in different countries. 

Get A eSIM 5G From Your Network On A Postpaid Plan 

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As we mentioned this is going to be the easiest way to be able to get eSIM 5G coverage that allows you to rest easily. All that you really have to do if you have an existing plan with a company is go to your service provider and ask for an upgrade. This may be where the problems start though. If you have a device that is not compatible with eSIM 5G technology then you’re going to have to upgrade your device. That’s going to mean one of two things: you’re going to be asked to extend your contract with the company or you’re going to have to go out and get a new device to be able to insert the eSIM with 5G capabilities on it. 

The best scenario that you could come across is one where you already have a device that can handle the new eSIM. In that case you can make the switch with your wireless service provider rather easily. Unless, the service provider has different types of policies for this type of thing. There are some service providers out there that are going to want you to extend your plan for the switch regardless of whether you need a device or not. What we can recommend in these situations is just to make sure that you understand what you’re signing up for, and what that’s going to mean for you long term.   

Can You Get An eSIM 5G On A Prepaid Plan?

This is something that has changed quite a bit since we wrote some of the first articles on the topic. We predicted at the time that it was a matter of time before wireless service providers started offering 5G coverage to their prepaid plan users just because their whole network was going to be migrating to 5G. Verizon for example just gives you a full 5G experience as a prepaid plan user. For T-Mobile there’s a cap on the amount of data that you can use on their prepaid plans. Although the cap is rather high anyway for a prepaid plan. 

What they are currently advertising at T-Mobile is that you’re going to be able to access their 5G network for up to 10GB of data used on your prepaid plan. The way that we see it a lot of people who are on a prepaid plan don’t even buy 10GB of data to begin with. Who does this really hurt then in our opinion? This is an issue that people on unlimited prepaid plans that never use their home wifi are going to have to contend with. If you’re just a mild data user this really isn’t something that we feel is going to be overly concerning. You’d have to really put in the effort to use up the 10GB. Even the drop off to 4G isn’t that severe. Still, we do contend that certain wireless service providers treat their prepaid plan users like second class citizens.

You Won’t Always Be Able To Access 5G Coverage 

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This is something that you would do well to keep in mind because it can truly help you avoid some unnecessary temper tantrums. The 5G network that wireless service providers in the US, and other countries offer isn’t as wide reaching as their 4G network. Now, if we’re talking about networks in Japan and Korea or even Belgium that’s a different story. In the asian countries that we mentioned the second tier network is their 5G network. In any case the thing is the highest tier network that is available may not always be the largest network that the service provider offers. That means that if you head out to rural areas you’re going to have a tougher time getting 5G coverage. That’s pretty much the simplest way to put it! 

Is there anything that you could currently do to extend your 5G coverage? What you could do is have active SIM cards from different service providers to be able to switch to the SIM card that offers the best coverage at any given time. Is this something that’s going to be worth the money? To some people it may be worth the money because maybe you do in fact spend quite a bit of your time in areas where only one service provider offers coverage or whatever it may be. For about 99.9% of cell phone users across the globe though just dealing with 4G or even 3G coverage in certain rural areas is going to be the cheapest and less complex thing to do.  

Travel eSIM Coverage What You Can Expect

Finding an eSIM 5G compatible that companies are going to offer on a prepaid plan deal may be a bit hard as of the time of writing. These are situations that are changing rapidly though. In some of the first articles that we have on 5G technology we mention that plenty of US service providers had been reluctant to offer 5G coverage to prepaid plan users. That has since changed over the last 6 or so months. Still, travel eSIM marketplaces tend to offer 4G coverage at best. Of course, that’s going to depend entirely on where you buy that eSIM, and where you travel! 

We never want to talk about certain countries in a negative light on this site. We have to be 100% honest though and say that 5G coverage is not equally available throughout the globe. There are going to be some places that you visit particularly in Japan and Korea where 5G coverage is last year’s news! So actually getting an eSIM 5G from a virtual marketplace for those countries could be an easier buy. If you’re headed out to a country in Africa, or certain parts of Latin America you may have trouble finding high speed coverage. It all comes down to the type of networks that happen to be available in a particular country when you visit. Also, as we mentioned the options that you’re able to find in eSIM marketplaces.  

Do Local SIM Cards For Travelers Offer 5G Coverage? 

There are also places that you may travel to where getting an eSIM is not going to be as easy as getting a regular prepaid SIM card to be able to have coverage abroad. Most of the regional SIM cards that can give you coverage in multiple countries won’t have access to 5G coverage. Particularly if you’re looking for coverage on a budget. We have to be real honest about this. As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, everything is going to come down to where you travel. One of the issues, for example, that you may come across has to do with your ability to even buy a eSIM or SIM card from that country as a foreigner.   

What could happen is that country laws essentially forbid foreign tourists from buying a local SIM card from a regular service provider. This is because you’d have to provide proof of identity and sometimes proof of your legal residence in the country. Even when you have the right papers to be able to do just that, going through the process for 3 days of coverage may not be worth it. Particularly when you can access an eSIM marketplace like Airalo and get coverage without having to provide any type of documents that show that you’re allowed to be in the country. At the end of the day that’s just one more wrinkle to think about. 

Is 5G Coverage More Expensive? 

That may be the case in some countries. However, in general most of the wireless services that provide 5G coverage or even 6G coverage don’t tend to charge more for what is without a doubt better coverage. The thing is, wireless service providers are going to have to continue to upgrade their networks. So charging more for better coverage could cause them to not have enough cash flow to be able to continue providing upgrades to their networks to keep their client base. There are a lot of things that are not ideal about the way that wireless service providers treat their clients. We have to be really honest about that one.  

With the world always being ready to upgrade to something better these companies are being more or less forced to continue to upgrade their networks. All it takes is for one company to start offering lower costs on faster coverage for the leading brand to lose its position at the top of the food chain. That’s why as we’ve been saying we typically don’t see these brands charging more money for the faster coverage that they are able to provide. Of course, since we know that we have readers from different parts of the world we would not be surprised if someone has had a different experience in a particular country. When it comes to the US though, and most parts of Latin America we can confidently say that this is a non issue. 

eSIM 5G Coverage Conclusion  

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The easiest way to get an eSIM 5G coverage compatible is to go ahead and upgrade your plan with your existing service provider. This is something that you may be able to do at no extra cost. US wireless service providers are also opening up their 5G networks to prepaid plan users. This is more or less a new trend that has taken hold within the last few months. The good news for prepaid plan users is that the fact that they now have access to the 5G network usually means that the network is way more reliable than it was when it was first instituted.     

We’re going to give out a tip for when 6G coverage and even faster speeds inevitably appear on the market in the coming years. The first generation of the network is usually not going to be all that reliable. What tends to end up happening is that you have your base speed be the previous generations’ speed. So when the 5G network is new there’s a good chance that you’ll be topped out at 4G coverage most of the time because the company hasn’t necessarily set up the full network. Right about now in the United States though may be the perfect time to really switch to 5G. 5G networks from the main service providers are much more stable now than in years past.