Top 10 Questions about eSIM for IoT

Top 10 Questions about eSIM for IoT

As adoption grows and capabilities develop, one thing that’s increasingly clear is that eSIM is unlocking a whole new world of freedom and flexibility for IoT.

It isn’t terribly surprising considering all the things eSIM makes possible, and as one of the world’s leading global connectivity solutions providers and steadfast eSIM pioneers from the outset, we’ve always worked hard to accelerate and supercharge IoT connectivity solutions to unlock large-scale global IoT adoption through the power of eSIM.

But as new IoT companies enter the market and the demand for reliable, flexible cellular IoT connectivity grows around the world, businesses want to know more about what they can do and what the future holds. As a result, we’re often asked lots of questions about eSIM and IoT, about how eSIM is helping make apps and devices more flexible and about the key trends that are influencing the drive towards eSIM-enabled solutions.

So whether you’re an IoT device manufacturer or a business moving toward a more connected workplace, this article covers some of what you need to know as you consider adopting eSIM for IoT:

Besides mobile phones, which other applications will see a growth in eSIM?

It’s clear that several different IoT use cases will benefit from eSIM technology. We have all the advantages for OEMs to deploy global use cases with Bootstrap connectivity and being able to choose and change connectivity providers without having to physically replace the SIM card and thus simplifying the SIM logistics process. And the size of small wearables and tracking devices can be reduced even further by removing the need for a replaceable SIM and using a smaller form factor like MFF2 or WLCSP.

How do we incorporate eSIM into wearables?

Wearables are one of the best use cases for eSIM, and eSIM is already being successfully used in many devices such as Apple Watch and Samsung Smart watch. The management of the connectivity in these wearables can be handled as in consumer devices, where the final customers can choose the best connectivity provider for them. Due to the design and size perspective, the eSIM in the MFF2 or WLSCP format could be used so that the need for a physical plastic SIM card is no longer a deciding factor when it comes to the size and functionality of a device.

How can eSIM, IoT edge computing and AI all come together for business users?

This might actually be a little way off yet, as each of these technologies are still maturing. But as far as eSIM is concerned, the eSIM in IoT is driven from the server side because today’s devices cannot know which operator is best for them to use. But in the near future and with the rise of AI and edge computing, the entire ecosystem will make devices much smarter. This means that an eSIM could be efficiently and automatically managed depending on the network conditions and capabilities, rather than being human driven.

Will eSIM devices be cost-competitive compared to data SIM devices?

If we look to the mid-term as the eSIM market continues to grow and eSIM is being adopted on a massive scale by the biggest mobile phone OEMs, the manufacturing costs will definitely drop and small silicon formats will become recurrently cheaper than removable plastic SIM. But right now, the biggest value in eSIM is the flexibility it brings not only for the OEM but also for the final consumer.

  How will the large Telcos react to increased eSIM adoption, given the inherent conflict it poses to their traditional business model by lowering barriers to switching for clients?

Mobile carriers will need to rethink their business models in order to survive the global rise in the adoption of IoT. Carriers will need to target OEMs and IoT enablers to sell mobile data by bringing a flavour of the B2B model to their existing B2C model. The ability to switch between carriers will help negotiate better rates and improved services for the end user. This will help carriers bring innovative ways of keeping and building the trust of their existing customers and create positive competition.

  Besides the “Connected Car” segment that has embraced eSIM, which other vertical segment do you see growing and adopting eSIM M2M?

On the consumer electronics’ side, wearable devices, personal monitors and trackers are already using eSIM in growing numbers along with “always connected” laptops and tablets. But when it comes specifically to IoT verticals, it’s clear that logistics will play a large part, with global footprint tracking devices, utilities and smart grid companies all adopting eSIM technology. Utilities providers, with their 10-20-year device lifecycle, will also want the flexibility to change connectivity providers during that long lifecycle of the device, which is obviously something eSIM provides.

Connected factories is another vertical that will benefit from eSIM, where private/public profiles can be managed. Similarly, some wearable devices are already using eSIM, as well as agriculture use cases.

  Do you expect a completely different method of standardisation for IoT eSIM, compared to consumer eSIM?

Yes, the GSMA has released two different standards for consumer and M2M, with two different models.

In the consumer model, all connectivity provisioning and control are directly managed by the end-user on his device. This is a “pull model”, where the end user requests a profile from the device. In the M2M model, the connectivity is directly managed by the Subscription Management platforms and the end-user just enjoys the connectivity service. This is a “push model”, where the connectivity profiles are pushed from the platform onto the device.

  The traditional SIM is 'standard' globally and has been unchanged since it was first deployed. How many different 'versions' and standards are already in place for eSIM? And how is that helping or hindering at-scale roll-out?

SIM cards have gone through multiple releases over the past 25 years, but the main concept has indeed remained unchanged. eSIM (which is relatively new in comparison) is going through new standards almost yearly in order to improve security and the way eSIM operates and addresses each use case.

For the GSMA M2M eSIM, the SGP.02 version 3.2 specification is fully mature and massively deployed on the field, and there are newer versions including additional features such as in SGP.02 v4.0, which introduces the M2M service provider concept and SGP.02 v4.2 which does the same for ieUICC.

Is there a use case in smart agriculture?

Yes, it really does look as though eSIM can help in every IoT industry. Even though smart agricultural devices will ordinarily stay on a farm and won’t need to change profiles as frequently, the single-SKU concept eSIM brings would reduce the overheads of managing multiple SIMs on multiple devices for device manufacturers shipping devices globally. Also when dealing with farms, most (if not all) of the operators in a country are likely to have less than ideal coverage in remote areas, so eSIM would come handy to download and enable the operator profile which can provide the best coverage in more out of the way places.

Is there a certification process involved before going to market?

Yes, the GSMA defined a specific certification procedure for both eSIM components and platforms. This procedure guarantees the security, integrity and interoperability of all GSMA eSIM solutions, so as a customer, the only thing you’d need to check is whether the module is certified.

For example, both our eSIM Launch Pad platform and ST4SIM-200M solution are both GSMA certified.

Related articles