In the digital world, there have been several landmark milestones through the global digital transformation process. IoT is the next big thing in the world of information technology. Smartphones, tablets and wearables quickly became a part of our everyday life. In the near future, connected cars, AI translators, vehicle tracking and several smart applications will follow suit.
According to GSMA, IoT connections will reach almost 25 billion by 2025. These IoT devices will greatly depend on fast internet connectivity and the upcoming 5G technology will play a great role. Most IoT devices will be deployed remotely with almost zero human interaction, therefore they will rely on eSIM technology and M2M (Machine-to-Machine) communication model.
Consumer and M2M eSIM Models?
eSIM is an eUICC (Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit) chip that is integrated with the circuit board of an electronic device that uses a cellular connection. This technology downloads an operator’s profile i.e. data needed to connect to their network, onto the embedded chip and users can choose from available operators. There are two eSIM models in existence today, based on different uses standardised by the GSMA.
1. End User Consumer Devices – The end user decides which mobile operator profile they want to download on to their eSIM. This model is implemented on consumer devices like mobile smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, smart TVs and the like.
2. Machine-to-machine model – The M2M eSIM model is based on minimal contact between the user and the device. These devices lack a user interface, so the mobile operator pushes their profile onto the device. This model is implemented on IoT devices across utilities, automotive, healthcare and manufacturing.
Why Do You Need eSIM?
The global adoption of eSIM offers many benefits.
- Global connectivity: eSIM technology will reach global adoption as time passes. This will mean products will be designed implementing the requirements and prerequisites for eSIM and IoT infrastructure. This will make it possible for IoT devices to contact and provision OTA to any CSP when required.
- Flexibility: It will also allow consumers and organisations to switch service providers and configure available networks. This control over networks and service providers will help devices and ‘things’ operate in a highly optimised manner.
- Universality: When eSIM technology is globally accepted as a standard production category, it will create a universal benchmark of cellular network connectivity for IoT and mobile devices. This will mean eSIM needs to be operational around the world regardless of geographical, OEM and communication service provider (CSP) boundaries.
- Connectivity and Device Bootstrapping: The process of connecting new devices is known as bootstrapping. Since IoT devices are deployed on a large scale, the connection process should be automated and standardised. This is a problem with traditional SIM cards, but eSIMs solve this problem through automation in connecting, configuring and managing devices.
The Opportunities With M2M
Mobile networks connect a spectrum of devices. This includes automated utility meter reading, intelligent automobile connectivity, smart navigation, home security and assisted living. With the projected growth of mobile-connected devices, there is a huge new market opportunity in the M2M and consumer electronics sectors. If organisations continue using traditional SIM cards, growth will be slower and the struggles will only increase due to the limitation of a single network operator.
SIM cards pose problems for several B2B customers. For the telecom industry, optimising the manufacturing process is a key challenge solved by eSIM technology. This technology provides a global product for the global manufacturing process, with localised provisions for when devices are deployed locally. eSIM also solves the problem of managing these devices on the ground. Most M2M devices are located remotely and sealed in isolation. Their post-sale location remains unknown during production. Most remote provisioning processes and interfaces are identical to current traditional SIM personalisation processes used by CSPs today.
The eSIM of Tomorrow
The latest version of eSIM technology today includes Profile Interoperability. This aims to simplify the process of M2M device connection and enhance the flexibility that mobile network operators and OEMs need for doing business.
eSIM technology has been backed by more than 20 operators, 2 leading M2M alliances and several OEMs. According to GSMA’s Mobile Economy report, 46 operators in 24 markets have launched commercially available 5G networks as of 30 January 2020. Additionally, 79 operators in 39 markets have announced plans to launch 5G mobile services in the near future.
There are several SIM technologies under development today. This includes nuSIM, iSIM etc. However, reports show that these technologies have lower acceptance rates, remain uncertified and are not as secure. eSIM technology is the world’s best bet for global outdoor connectivity with regard to IoT and M2M devices.