eSIM (or embedded SIM) technology is destined to replace the traditional SIM cards that you insert in your mobile phones when you buy a new terminal or switch mobile phone operators.
The eSIM is an eUICC (Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card) chip on the circuit board of an electronic device with a cellular connection. A virtual SIM, which we shall refer to as a mobile operator profile, is downloaded from the Internet onto the chip. At present, two eSIM models based on two different types of use cases have been standardized by the GSMA: the first is for Internet of Things – IoT devices, which we shall call Machine-to-Machine – M2M – SGP.01, and the second is for end-user consumer devices – SGP.21.
Both use cases basically differ in who holds control of the eSIM, or, in other words, who decides to download the mobile operator profile onto the eUICC. The emphasis in the M2M model revolves around there being no interaction between the device and the user. In this model, the mobile operator profile is downloaded from the mobile network itself – since M2M devices do not usually have a user interface with which to interact. In the consumer model, however, it is the users who decide which mobile operator they want to install on their device by choosing one from a list of available operators – this is the case for mobile telephones, tablets, smart watches, etc.
The advantages of the M2M model
The advantages of the M2M model are:
• High numbers of devices can be deployed and become active on the network almost simultaneously with no interaction from the user. Only the eSIM IDs in the devices need be sent to the operator providing the service.
• Devices can be remotely managed and configured as soon as they are connected to the network – out-of-the-box connectivity.
• Mobile operator profiles can be activated, deactivated and changed remotely over the air.
In the consumer model, by contrast, it is the end user that must register the device on the mobile network. For example, to register a mobile telephone, today one must ask the operator for a QR (Quick Response) code and then scan this with an application on the mobile telephone itself. Just imagine, for example, what it would be like if you had to request and scan a thousand QR codes from the operator in order to register a thousand devices.
The advantage of the M2M model for the case of large-scale device deployments seems clear, even for cases of switching operators in an installed base of devices.
Right now, the use of physical SIM cards means a worker would have to go and gain access to each device, extract the SIM card and replace it with one from the new operator. In the case of eSIM devices, not only would you no longer need to physically access the device, but you could also change operators for an entire installed base of devices remotely over the air in a very short space of time.
Another benefit of eSIM is that it allows consumers to upload multiple operator profiles on a device simultaneously and switch between them as needed. As an example, a vehicle traveling through Europe can have a list of profiles for each country it travels through and switch between them automatically when it crosses a border – all without user intervention.
At Teldat, we are currently working to put eSIM in all our new products, so that we can offer our customers products with state-of-the-art technology in this field, giving them the opportunity to make use of the benefits that eSIM brings to device deployment and management.