Google Restricts Access to International eSIM Apps in India

Google Restricts Access to International eSIM Apps in India

Google has reportedly restricted access to the apps of international eSIM providers, Airalo and Holafly, for users in India. This move comes as a result of non-compliance with existing telecom policies in the country. According to unnamed sources cited in a Moneycontrol report, the blocking of these apps was done in accordance with directions from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to Google and Apple. While Google has implemented the restriction, Apple is yet to follow suit by blocking downloads of the apps in the country.
The DoT has recently issued revised policies for the issue or renewal process of No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for the sale and rental of international roaming SIM cards or global calling cards for foreign operations in India. These policies state that foreign operators must obtain an NOC from the DoT in order to sell or rent international roaming SIM cards to customers in India. However, it has been identified that both Airalo and Holafly did not possess the required NOC to operate in the country.
Google has taken action by restricting downloads of Airalo and Holafly for users in India via the Google Play store. As a consequence of the lack of necessary approvals, these apps are currently unavailable in the country. It is worth noting that Apple’s App Store on iOS still allows access to these apps, as downloads have not been restricted on their platform. Nonetheless, discussions are reportedly underway between the Indian government and Apple to address this issue, potentially resulting in a restriction on Apple’s smartphones as well.
The restriction of downloads for Airalo and Holafly is done in compliance with the directions issued by the DoT. The Indian government has mandated that these apps be blocked due to their failure to meet the necessary regulatory requirements. It is crucial for international eSIM providers to obtain the NOC from the DoT, which involves being registered as an Indian company and showcasing usage of the international cards outside India. Additionally, providers must collect users’ passport copies with visas, proof of identity, and proof of address. Furthermore, security agencies require a detailed monthly report containing information about the customers who have been provided with SIM cards.
Gadgets 360 staff members have attempted to download both Airalo and Holafly on an Android smartphone via the Google Play store, but the apps were not accessible. Despite being restricted on the Google Play store, the apps can still be downloaded from Apple’s App Store on iOS. This highlights the discrepancy in the level of restriction implemented by Google and Apple in relation to these eSIM apps.
While Google has already imposed restrictions on Airalo and Holafly, Apple is yet to do so. However, conversations are ongoing between the Indian government and Apple in an effort to restrict access to these apps on Apple’s smartphones in the country. If successful, this would mean that both Android and iOS users in India would face limitations in accessing these international eSIM apps.
The restrictions placed on Airalo and Holafly by Google in India highlight the importance of complying with local telecom policies. The DoT’s revised policies require international eSIM providers to obtain an NOC, register as an Indian company, and adhere to security obligations. While users in India currently face limitations in accessing these apps on Android, potential restrictions on Apple’s iOS platform may further impact the availability of these international eSIM apps in the country.

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