eSIM, eUICC SIM and More. What Do These Terms Mean for IoT?
In 2018, over 360 million eSIM-based devices were shipped globally. Shipment numbers are projected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 percent during the forecast period, reaching approximately two billion units by 2025. What exactly are embedded SIMs, what does eUICC technology mean for IoT, and how can this knowledge support connected devices and power IoT for enterprises looking to get ahead of the game?
What is eSIM technology, and how is that different from a physical SIM card?
So, let’s dive in. What is an eSIM? The term stands for Embedded Subscriber Identity Module, and it’s a form factor where the SIM is soldered directly onto the circuit board. While SIMs can come in many different form factors, such as micro, nano or mini – these usually need to be physically entered into a device. By using an embedded SIM, you’re protecting the card from hazards such as dust or water damage, and as the eSIM becomes part of the device, manufacturers get more flexibility to create thinner, more user-friendly devices, too.
eUICC stands for embedded universal integrated circuit card and is a standard that was created by GSMA, the Telecoms trade body. It’s simply a SIM card that is capable of being remotely provisioned and comes in a variety of form factors. If your device supports eUICC within the eSIM, with the advent of remote SIM provisioning, these devices can be managed and controlled over-the-air (OTA). That means you can switch between different operator profiles, all from a single centralized location.
As eSIMs can withstand higher impact and wider temperature ranges, take less space on the electric circuit board and cannot be removed, you can see why eSIMs are a great choice anywhere an enterprise may need an IoT device to function. When it comes to mobile phones, devices using an embedded SIM will always use eUICC. However, for IoT this is not the case. IoT devices may or may not be eUICC compatible.
How Does eUICC Work?
When looking at the eUICC standard, the Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) platform comprises three main elements: The Subscription Management Data Preparation (SM-DP) is responsible for preparing, storing and protecting operator Profiles (including the operator credentials); it also downloads and installs Profiles onto the eUICC.
The Subscription Management Secure Routing (SM-SR) is responsible for managing the status of Profiles on the eUICC (enable, disable, delete) as well as securing the communications link between the eUICC and SM-DP for the delivery of operator Profiles.
The eUICC is a secure element that contains one or more subscription Profiles. Each Profile enables the eUICC to function in the same way as a removable SIM issued by the operator that created it. An eUICC may be built using any form factor, either removable, embedded or integrated
How can IoT Solutions Benefit from eSIM Technology?
It’s with the rise of IoT that eSIMs are starting to meet their true potential. When you add eUICC compatibility to the mix, enterprises can set up security and compliance rules in a granular way without needing to manage or switch physical SIM cards in thousands of devices in the field to meet new and ever-changing requirements.
When devices land in the country in which they will connect, organizations can search for the best mobile network operator to trust, without physically being on the ground with the devices. Businesses can effortlessly meet local privacy requirements by connecting locally, and by using eSIMs they don’t have to worry about operator lock-in, since they can add profiles to the device as they need. This means at the point of manufacturing, they don’t even need to know which country is their final destination! As the eUICC-regulated eSIM has OTA provisioning and in-built security, data and communications are fully secured, according to your needs.
Beating the Challenges of eSIM Technology to Power IoT
For eUICC solutions to take off and reach their potential, a few key challenges need addressing. The main issue is cost-effectiveness of using this kind of technology to power IoT.
Today, you need to approach every operator and make your own agreement in preparation for what your devices might need further down the line. Without a single vendor for connectivity, behind the scenes you will have to approach numerous MNOs, make multiple agreements, integrate each time, and then manage each relationship and SLA moving forward.
Many people don’t realize that all eUICC deployments will have license fees attached. Every change or reconfiguration will be charged, which can easily make eUICC far more costly than the use of a traditional SIM. Every change in the network costs money and takes time and effort. When the device lands, you’ll need to download an entire profile, paying for the data and the transaction fees every single time. This can quickly become prohibitive, especially for LPWAN devices, and will also add a one-time cost for every device, which of course can run into thousands of devices.
Instead, floLIVE offers an innovative approach for enterprises looking to help the IoT connect globally.
First, for enterprises looking to benefit from IoT solutions, floLIVE can provide a single SKU and cover the world using IMSI allocation and eSIM form factor. This eliminates the need for multiple complex mobile network operator relationships and ensures seamless local connectivity in the specific region in which you have IoT devices. In turn, this reduces latency down to a minimum, ensuring best-in-class performance. <Here’s more about Multi-IMSI cards and how they work>
Second, by using IoT-friendly eSIM technology, devices can be manufactured according to eUICC and GSMA standards, with floSIM in the first profile. When devices land in their location of choice, they can seamlessly connect to a local mobile network operator from our vast IMSI library – downloading just the IMSI, heavily reducing the data transfer and therefore the costs. This thin solution handles the challenges of eUICC head-on, but allows you to remain compliant and obtain coverage in regions where IMSI-allocation remains impossible due to local regulations. As an added bonus, you have the freedom and the insurance that you need to set up global IoT deployments without operator lock-in, knowing that at any stage you can provision your devices OTA with new CSPs.
Take the Idea of Multi-IMSI to the Next Level for Your IoT Solutions
Connected devices that support eUICC is just step one. While eUICC is ground-breaking technology, the costs associated with downloading profiles and establishing multiple mobile network operator relationships could end up holding your IoT projects back from becoming profitable.
Instead, take advantage of full coverage with a single vendor relationship using floNET, or leverage the best of both worlds, with floSIM tucked neatly into the first profile on your eUICC compatible SIM. More cost-effective, lightweight IoT connectivity is within your reach – it’s time to take advantage of the benefits.
Ready to discuss your business requirements? Schedule a call with one of our IoT evangelists!