How eSIM is enabling a new world of flexibility for IoT apps and devices
Article by George Malim (editor at IoT Now), in partnership with Truphone
As IoT deployments start to ramp up in terms of volume, traditional approaches to connectivity are becoming too inflexible, expensive and complex to manage, writes George Malim, the managing editor of IoT Now. A plastic SIM card associated with a national mobile network operator that needs to be installed into a device limits IoT organisations’ ability to serve customers. A tracking company, for example, could do a deal with a large tier one mobile operator in a specific geography such as the EU or the US but still find the selected operator doesn’t provide the right coverage in all the areas it operates in.
Similarly, if a truck is being tracked from a factory in Germany to a distribution centre in Turkey, what happens when the truck leaves the EU and the home operator no longer has coverage? Traditionally, the operator would rely on its long-established roaming relationships to ensure its partner in Turkey could continue to provide connectivity. In this scenario the service is again limited to the capabilities of the lead operator’s roaming partner which may not offer the best coverage or the optimum network performance across the visited country.
On top of this issue, the tracker will need to have been installed with the lead operator’s SIM card, causing additional cost to be incurred. This constrains the tracking provider because if it wants to change network provider, it will have to replace the SIM adding yet further cost in the form of installation and administration.
This flexibility is critical for specific types of deployment. Surveillance, for example, might demand access to higher bandwidth cellular networks to ensure video quality is maintained while some telemedicine applications demand an even higher level of quality and uptime, often described as Critical IoT.
In contrast, embedded IoT SIM cards or eSIM can be installed in the factory, embedded into a module with no need for a plastic card and deployed globally. A tracking device maker can embed the eSIM into its products at its factory in China and on deployment in Mexico, they can be configured over-the-air and connect to the user organisation’s network of choice. This capability, which can be done in an automated way with zero touch, also means the eSIM can be upgraded over the air, extending the deployment lifespan of a device without requiring physical maintenance.
Users are no longer tied to a plastic card from a single network provider and instead, they can access the best connectivity for their app or IoT device wherever they are in the world – even in their home country in the event of coverage blackspots. In addition, OEMs, chipset, module and device makers can add or bundle connectivity into their offering enabling them to provide a richer, more integrated offering to customers. This simplifies the technical side of an IoT business by ensuring robust global connectivity is always available and the customer does not have to maintain relationships with multiple global network operators in order to assure coverage.