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The revolutionization of SIM technology with the advent of Cellular IoT

C1RM with NB-IoT/EGPRS
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Playing a pivotal role in the evolution of mobile communication, SIM technology is an integral part of business management for mobile & IoT communication. A Subscriber Identity Module, or SIM as it is most commonly called, is a small background technology that authenticates subscribers to their selected network provider. According to Market Reports World, the global Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) Card market size is expected to grow to reach USD 1.45 billion by 2024. From the original credit card size to the nano-SIM, the technology has come a long way. Yet, the growth of telecommunication technology such as SIM technology has only begun since the world ushered in the era of IoT.

So, what does the future hold for SIM technology?

As the world embraces the Internet of Things, one of the significant contributors to its growth is cellular IoT. With most of the service providers expanding to NB-IoT and LTE-M networks in the near future, the need to tweak the current SIM technology from its legacy system became imminent. The traditional SIM uses legacy technology that poses reliability and security risks while restricting large-scale IoT device deployments.

Introduced in 1991, this technology has witnessed a remarkable transformation over the years and has now evolved into new avatars that embrace the Internet of Things (IoT). Two recent advances, namely embedded SIM(eSIM) and integrated SIM (iSIM), are driving the cellular IoT revolution forward with an army of features that are focused on addressing critical challenges associated with physical SIMs such as the size of the card, management of procured SIM, durability, and security.

M2M and consumers leverage new-age SIM technology differently

There are two different types of SIM technology that users can adopt depending on their needs.

  • eSIM allows mobile network operators to send SIM profiles without the need for physical access. To facilitate this authentication method, eSIM uses an embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC) standard that allows remote provisioning of network profiles.
  • iSIM uses low-tier IoT connectivity such as NB-IoT and LTE-M that allows industries to save on different components such as SIM cards, SIM trays, or even eSIM chips. iSIM stands for integrated SIM which allows for manufactures to integrate the SIM functionalities into the processor of the modem which thereby reduces one extra component.

eUICC is touted as one of the critical drivers in the world of cellular IoT as it promises to strengthen the relationship between the operator and customer with its ability to store multiple operator profiles critical to IoT device manufacturers and owners. In the IoT environment, this creates an advantage as it leverages IoT services regardless of the mobile network operator.

There is a vast difference between the utilization of SIM technology by M2M and consumer-grade. M2M and IoT ecosystems required a new approach to SIM technology that is durable and tamper-proof. While both consumer-grade and M2M SIMs come in different form factors such as 2FF, 3FF, 4FF, and MFF2 or embedded SIMs, three major parameters define SIM usage in the M2M model, namely temperature, lifespan, and capacity of M2M. Depending on the industry and usage, manufacturers must select the right SIM based on the three aforementioned parameters.

For instance, industrial M2M SIMs must withstand extreme weather conditions, last up to 15 years, and have 16-BIT CPU capacity. These SIMs can be used for vehicle tracking, energy metering, vending machines, payment terminal, control, and monitoring.

Benefits of eSIMs

It is predicted that the transition from traditional SIMs to eSIMs will likely take several years. However, significant players in the mobile manufacturing sectors have piloted eSIMs with their new models. Brands such as Apple, Samsung, Google, and many more have started manufacturing consumer-grade devices ready to embrace the biggest revolution in SIM technology. Some of the primary reasons why these companies have begun to debut the new technology include —

  • Facilitating new design as eSIMs do not require a specific spot like a traditional SIM
  • Supporting easy upgrading throughout the lifetime of the device, thanks to future-proof and reliable design
  • Works across locations as eSIMs can store several cellular profiles

eSIM Use Cases

According to a Counterpoint Research report, eSIM-based devices are expected to reach 2 billion units by 2025. This growth can be attributed to the promising global adoption of eSIM technology by several industries such as automotive, agriculture, industrial IoT, transportation, and civil infrastructure. These industries are harnessing the power of eSIM to become more cost-efficient and improve operational efficiency. Here are a few examples —

  • Automotive industries have adopted eSIM technology as a managed service as it replaces traditional SIM technology in the cars delivered globally
  • The shipping & logistics industry is one industry that has highly benefited from the advent of eSIM as there is no longer a need to physically swap SIM cards before and during transit or subscribing to expensive roaming contracts. Service providers can change network profiles as needed from their management console using remote SIM provisioning (RSP) service.
  • Wearable devices such as smartwatches and trackers often have size constraints and the usage of physical SIM cards is not an option. With eSIMs designers can create much smaller devices or free space for larger batteries and more sensors.
  • Smart utility metering has seen a recent upward trend due to the ease of reading and billing since it is done automatically. With eSIM technology, utility meters have the advantages of establishing a connection with LPWA technologies such as NB-IoT and automatically registering and latching securely onto the application.

Over the last decade, the telecom industry witnessed tremendous change. While newer technology such as blockchain-enabled SIM technology and eSIM takes precedence, older technology is on the verge of obsolescence. Although the eSIM was initially launched to save cost and the hoopla around preloaded service providers, manufacturers enjoy the many benefits associated with eSIM technology. Grand View Research reports that the global eSIM market size is expected to expand at a CAGR of 15.8% between 2020 and 2027. This growth can be directly associated with the many benefits of eSIM such as security, reliability, and cost-efficient cellular connectivity for IoT and M2M applications. Similarly, blockchain-based services are pioneering in the telecommunication industry for various purposes such as wi-fi sharing, enterprise-to-peer services.

As more and more IoT and 5G devices dominate the telecommunication industry, newer trends find it easy to penetrate and force industry players to adapt quickly. The growing demands of a seamless communication backend technology combined with the mobile device manufacturers' futuristic launches lead to a bigger question - do SIM technology providers have the infrastructure to support the growth of eSIM and blockchain?

Cavli Wireless provides a one-stop solution for eSIM provisioning & management

Cavli Wireless offers industrial-grade cellular IoT modules with integrated eSIM that offers preloaded global connectivity. Using Cavli Hubble, our robust connectivity, and a modern management platform, users can manage device connectivity requirements effortlessly. With advanced firmware installations, Cavli Smart Modules facilitate hassle-free data subscription, activation, deactivation, and troubleshooting capabilities. By leveraging Hubble Stack Intelligence, our modules can intelligently switch local operator profiles in case of movement of deployed devices across geographies or boundaries; in other words, no roaming and reduced bills.

Connect with our solution experts to see how we can enable Smart Connectivity on your next product development journey.

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