Photo/IllutrationThe world's first multi-profile SIM card developed by NTT Docomo Inc. (Provided by NTT Docomo Inc.)

NTT Docomo Inc. has developed the world’s first SIM card that can store multiple profiles from cellphone carriers, negating the need to change SIMs or use roaming services when traveling abroad.

Japan’s leading telecommunications provider announced the innovation on Nov. 28 and its plan to launch a new service using it as early as 2018.

With the new product, NTT Docomo customers can use their smartphones or tablets in foreign countries on local networks without changing SIM cards, and at a lower cost than using the roaming service that allows users to connect to local networks through NTT Docomo, according to the company.

SIM cards, which are issued by mobile communication providers, contain individual contract data, including details of a user’s subscription plan and phone number.

The new SIM card can store contract data of up to six companies, allowing smartphones to be used on local networks of overseas partner companies.

NTT Docomo plans to carry out demonstration experiments of the card in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam from December.

Currently, the only choices for Japanese travelers for using their phones overseas are to change their SIM to one issued by a local service provider, or to use roaming services.

NTT Docomo’s roaming service costs between 980 yen ($8.80) and 2,980 yen a day, depending on the destination and data usage. The new SIM service may be particularly useful for people who plan to stay overseas long term and to use their smartphones frequently.