The embedded SIM technology is being touted as ‘the next big thing’ to hit the technology market.
Amdocs, a leading software and services provider, published a report that revealed that 81% of consumers were in favor or open to having eSIM-only smartphones in the future, against 19% who weren’t keen on the idea. And 58% of the respondents also wanted their TSPs to include eSIM in their offerings. This push is also seen in the industry, where almost 90% MNOs are planning to adopt or provide eSIM by 2025.
But what is driving the market for eSIM technology? Improving IoT use cases, seamless connectivity, increased rollout of 5G networks, and all-around digitization is pushing the ecosystem towards eSIM tech.
What exactly is eSIM, and how is it different from conventional SIM cards? Let’s find out.
What is eSIM technology?
The eSIM is a programmable subscriber identity module card that is embedded into your devices and can connect you with any operator that offers eSIM services.
A eSIM is soldered into your device’s motherboard. Although it offers everything your ordinary SIM card does, you can’t remove it. If you think this could be a hassle, especially when you travel and need to switch to other carriers, think again.
eSIM makes switching from one service provider to another easy – sometimes you can make the switch by simply scanning the QR code with your device’s camera. Similarly, some smartphones have settings that need to be tweaked to switch between carriers.
Where is the eSIM technology being used?
The inevitable evolution of eSIM technology plays a significant role in increasing IoT applications and use cases. eSIM is ironing out challenges IoT technology faces in connecting devices and sensors spread across geographic locations.
As a result, eSIM technology is being used extensively in wearables, cars, smartphones, home appliances, and industrial equipment.
How does eSIM differ from a conventional SIM card?
A SIM or a Subscriber Identity Module is something we are all familiar with – it is a small chip card that is slid into a special tray within the device. The carrier usually provides a SIM, and information such as the phone number, security keys, and authentication details are programmed into the chip. Without the SIM card, you won’t be able to connect to any service or make or receive calls or messages.
But how does the eSIM differ from the traditional SIM card?
First, the eSIM is embedded into the device, while the traditional SIM card is removable. As a result, the eSIMs maintain a continuous connection and ensure consistent data flow. Additionally, with an eSIM, you can download several subscribers from multiple network devices, meaning you can easily move from one carrier to another using the device settings.
Since eSIMs are smaller and more durable than conventional SIM cards, they can fit easily into smaller devices. Moreover, this feature is also helping developers design smaller but more powerful devices such as wearables, IoT sensors, and trackers.
How is eSIM helping overcome the challenges of IoT technology?
The Internet of Things is a revolutionary technology designed to connect, track and monitor devices spread over vast geographical distances. Although the IoT revolution has touched almost every element of business and life, there are still some challenges it hasn’t been able to overcome.
IoT use cases are spread far and wide, and most use IoT-enabled devices daily without associating them with the technology. Yet, making IoT work seamlessly has been more than a hiccup. Instead, it has continued to be a challenge, especially since the applications needed to make it work are spread over multiple technologies, geographical locations, connectivity protocols, devices, and sensors.
One of the major challenges of IoT is connectivity, and eSIM technology is helping overcome it. IoT needs consistent and reliable connectivity to help track, monitor, and draw insights from sensors as they move through different locations.
Imagine a transcontinental cargo truck being monitored by sensors, and as this truck moves through geographic locations, crossing local, national, and international borders, it bounces off different carriers. Physically replacing its SIM cards at each transition is impossible. Moreover, the devices can’t be monitored unless the connectivity is strong and reliable. For consistency and stability in connections, eSIM is the only way forward.
How is eSIM leading IoT into the future?
The eSIM technology, with its promise of reliable and consistent connectivity, is leading IoT technology into the future. Some of the reasons for the adoption of eSIM technology are:
IoT-enabled sensors and devices are predominantly used to track and monitor industrial tools, equipment, and goods. These sensors are extremely small and operate under harsh conditions in confined spaces. Furthermore, since the eSIM is soldered within the device, it is protected by its secure outer shell and is safe from extreme weather conditions.
The advantages of eSIM are confined to their size or durability. But, they extend to data security as well. eSIM cards can help mitigate some of the damage businesses incur from security attacks and hacking. Because the chip is hardwired into the device, it is almost tamper-resistant. And the question of SIM card cloning doesn’t arise, as it is practically impossible to wrench the eSIM out without breaking the device.
Furthermore, if the IoT devices use eSIM as an authentication token, initial provisioning credentials are unnecessary as the eSIM can self-authenticate the device. And, the eSIM authentication credentials do get stored only in RAM if the device bootstraps every time it is turned on.
The eSIM cards are smaller when compared with their conventional counterparts. IoT devices come in various sizes, and the smaller eSIMs make a lot of difference in their design and functionality. The extra landscape within the device allows designers to incorporate security hardware into the system.
Since the eSIMs are smaller, they are easier to embed into smaller devices such as wearables and IoT sensors.
Another reason for the easy adoption of eSIM in IoT technology lies in their interoperability. SIM cards of different carriers could come in different sizes. In addition, the lack of standards could mean that the same SIM card might not be supported in different devices.
On the other hand, eSIMs come in standard sizes, making them easy to integrate with various devices. Similarly, manufacturers also find scaling of eSIM technology cost-effective. Changing the subscriber without physically removing the SIM chip from the IoT device is easier.
With customer awareness building, the need to have a digital-first experience is being felt strongly by businesses. eSIM technology is helping operators provide a personalized onboarding experience to customers by providing custom offers and rewards. In addition, the capabilities of eSIM allow customers to link their multiple devices under a unified subscription.
eSIM technology – The future of connectivity
Currently, eSIM technology is still in its infancy. However, as technology evolves phenomenally, it promises many benefits to customers and businesses. Nevertheless, even as eSIM is ushering in a new era in connectivity, it is a matter of time before we can truly leverage its potential.
Although there are immense benefits to this cutting-edge technology, there are still some challenges, such as the complexity of technology, the requirement of supporting infrastructure, and protecting data integrity.
The features of eSIM, such as interoperability, scalability, and security, are proving useful to the ecosystem that thrives on connectivity, such as IoT applications. If you want your company to be a part of the IoT future – driven by eSIMs – get in touch with Intuz to experience their expertise in delivering high-end solutions.