Anyone connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M communications industries will be acutely aware of the levels of ambition and investment being set for the Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card, more widely known as eUICC, or the eSIM.
A 2017 report from IHS Markit, for example, suggests that eSIM shipments will increase from 109 million in 2016, to 986 million by 2021. This growth will largely be driven by continuing IoT development, with eSIMs set to play a major role in ensuring the connectivity of billions of connected devices around the world, says Ian Marsden, CTO at Eseye.
The automotive industry is a prime example of a sector that has been keen to drive the technology forwards. With connected cars quickly becoming mainstream, the eUICC compliant eSIM has the potential to empower manufacturers by offering new opportunities to simplify logistics and optimise costs.
But industry ambition doesn’t stop there. The eSIM is being hailed as the next evolution of the SIM card, prompting vendors, operators and service providers to trial new eSIM-based edge solutions in an attempt to secure their position in the huge and growing global cellular, IoT and device connectivity markets.
Clearly, there is plenty of optimism around the eSIM, much of which is based on some key benefits being promoted by the IoT telecoms industry to customers. But, is there a gap between the perception and current reality of the eSIM?
Undoubtedly the most important benefit of eSIM technology – and the one most widely referred to – relates to enhanced provisioning. Traditionally, SIM cards have been provisioned with the profile of a single mobile network operator (MNO), which once locked in, cannot be changed.
This means customers must replace their SIM card every time they want to change operators. While this is a manageable task and something we are all used to when talking about a personal mobile phone, it has massive cost implications for IoT customers managing thousands, if not millions, of remotely located edge devices, over many years and across potentially vast areas.
With new, eUICC compliant eSIMs, the plan is for MNO provisioning to be managed over-the-air, with no physical access to the device required. The cards should be able to host multiple and changeable provider profiles when they are deployed. This should mean that customers can change carriers on a daily basis if they so wish, depending on business factors such as connectivity, resilience, customer service SLAs and the data rates available.
This requirement has significant implications for enterprises with large-scale IoT deployments. Embedded eSIMs remove the cost and logistics headaches that come with having to manually change a SIM card or network provider, as well, for example, as maximising device uptime by allowing a choice of the best local network operator.
There are also benefits for both manufacturers and operators to consider. As eSIM-equipped devices are ready to go straight out of the factory, IoT business managers and technologists can, in theory, streamline their logistics by removing the need for local device set up and configuration further down the supply […]
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