Answering “The Inconvenient Truth”
In March 2022, our Chief Technical Officer Michael Moorfield took viewers on a unique journey of enabling eSIM with Apple in our free live digital event “The Inconvenient Truth” and revealed some of the inconvenient truths that are all too present for the wider mobile ecosystem. It was hugely successful in exploring eye-opening questions like why the telecoms industry is still in love with the plastic SIM card and why it’s letting its customers down.
But while it explained some of the biggest issues facing the industry, like all important topics, it raised even more questions from the audience than could all be addressed on the day. Thankfully, however, we’ve curated some of the most pressing and insightful questions and answered them here and give you an even more in-depth look at the issues…
Why should I invest in an entitlement server solution now rather than later? We operate in a small market and the business case is challenging when based solely on smart watches.
Wearables are the primary use case for entitlement servers in the market today - primarily Apple Watch. However, entitlements can be used to manage all sorts of other network functions such as VoWifi, VoLTE and 5G controls, and in addition to the Apple specifications, Truphone’s entitlement server supports other specifications from GSMA, Samsung, Google and soon Huawei too. We work to keep costs as low as possible by using an SaaS model that’s based on our cloud-native platform, which means there are no in-network costs for the Operator.
What’s your view on the lock-in created by the fact that the eSIM bootstrap profile has to be programmed during production of the end device? Is there any chance of getting rid of this kind of lock-in?
That’s a decision to be made by the OEM or device manufacturer, and the eSIM bootstrap can be installed either during manufacture or on the first setup of the device for consumer devices. Truphone’s bootstrap enables customers to switch out their Truphone bootstrap eSIM for an alternative provider at any time, thus avoiding the issue of lock-in and giving them true freedom of choice.
Is it possible to have two eSIM profiles on a device working at the same time, like a dual sim phone?
Yes, this is already a reality for the 2021 generation of smartphones, including iPhone.
What does Truphone’s eSIM solution offer as an advantage when compared to other companies such as Thales and G+D?
Truphone offers an eSIM RSP platform for consumer and M2M, much like Thales and G&D. Unlike Thales and G&D, however, Truphone also offers an entitlement server as part of the platform ecosystem, and as a mobile operator, Truphone has a wealth of experience on both the eSIM side and the network side. We implement eSIM, carrier apps and related telecoms services for our customers as well, so we bring a unique perspective to rolling out eSIM. We also have innovative commercial offers were we offer our platforms for a single one-time setup fee, and a simple monthly SaaS model for usage.
What happens if an IoT module project wants to activate eSIM and have the data that it produces sent to a Blockchain platform?
All of the data is available in our platform and can be distributed by the customer however they wish, including to a blockchain. In the consumer eSIM standard for example, notifications of state changes are delivered from the device to the Truphone platform (as per the specification) and these can also be delivered to a customer endpoint.
How do you deal with a stolen device that has an eSIM profile enabled on it and how can the MNO re-use the same profile after being churned?
It can be handled in much the same way as handling a stolen device with a physical SIM. The relevant policies are set by the MNO in terms of cancelling the subscription on the physical SIM or eSIM, and eventually reusing the numbering resources in the eSIM profile (IMSI, MSISDN etc). Truphone’s platform supports blocking eSIM installs by the device EID or other criteria.
What are some of the challenges of helping switch physical SIM users to eSIM?
The primary challenge is that although it’s steadily growing each month, understanding of eSIM is still quite low in the market. Switching from a physical SIM to an eSIM could be as simple as a SIM transfer for a mobile operator, provided they have the processes in place, and Apple and other OEMs already have technologies that rely on the entitlement server to improve the switch from a physical SIM to an eSIM.
How do Truphone make it easier for cellular hardware manufacturers to embrace eSIM technology?
Truphone offers different platforms to help cellular OEMs support eSIM from end to end, such as a consumer RSP or M2M RSP, with an IoT specification RSP coming soon. We also offer bootstrap connectivity to help OEM solve use cases where an initial provisioning profile is available, and we work very closely with OEMs on their eSIM strategies.
Do we still need data-enablers like G&D to configure an eSIM? Or does that additional layer of complexity get removed with the eSIM?
In summary, yes. eSIM is a specification based on a GSMA standard, so in order to offer eSIM services, the eSIM platform provider (whether G&D, Thales or Truphone) must pass a strict security audit to confirm that their solution adheres to the specification and the physical security requirements for the hosting environment. MNOs are entitled to acquire or build their own eSIM platforms and self-host them after passing the required security audits, but the cost of actually achieving that is quite likely to be too prohibitive for most MNOs.
How many MNOs profiles can be stored in a single eSIM slot?
It really depends on the memory of the eSIM chip and the size of the eSIM profile, but as an example, around 10 eSIM profiles can be stored in an iPhone 13.
Are OEMs trying to move into the connectivity space? What do you see as the role of new players, over the top players. Can you see the likes of Apple or even Amazon getting involved in connectivity?
We don’t currently see any indication of that, but that being said, it’s important for OEMs to have easy, reliable connectivity solutions, such as a bootstrap service.
We already use eSIM and give customers QR codes that they can scan. That's enough to support the demand right now isn't it?
It might currently be enough to get a customer up and running with an eSIM, however there are other, more customer-friendly methods available that are well worth considering, such as using the GSMA or Apple Lookup Server (triggering the eSIM to install directly to the end user device via a push message). This is a popular Enterprise eSIM use case. Alternatively, you can use a ‘carrier app’, which is a mobile app that handles the eSIM install and which is popular with end users.
You say eSIM is easy, but what’s the harm in just removing a SIM card and placing it in another phone? It’s really not that much of a barrier.
True, but it might be when there is no slot to put it in on your next smartphone.