This blog is about the most significant recent development in the world of data connectivity – the eSIM. Or otherwise known as eUICC.
The proper technical term for the humble plastic SIM which we all use is ‘UICC’ – Universal Integrated Circuit Card. This is a standard developed by ETSI, and defines the use of a smart card in a mobile phone. The UICC ensures the integrity and security of data stored in the phone, including both personal data about the subscriber and details about the ‘profile’ of the MNO (Mobile Network Operator) who issued the card. It has obviously been wildly successful.
One drawback of the UICC is that it is effectively the exclusive property of the MNO (Mobile Network Operator) whose network it connects you to. When used in a mobile phone, this isn’t such a big deal: If you want to change service providers, you simply swap out the SIM card for one from a new service provider.
However, in the world of connected devices and IoT, this can be a much bigger deal. Once a SIM is loaded into a device and put into operation, it requires a much bigger effort to locate and access that device to swap out a SIM. And often, a company might have hundreds or thousands of devices using SIMs. It becomes exorbitantly expensive to make such a change, diminishing any other cost benefits.
These constraints led to the development of a new standard – eUICC. With eUICC, the chip within the SIM card is no longer the exclusive domain of one MNO. It can store and use the profile (or, to use its proper term IMSI – International Mobile Subscriber Identity) of multiple different MNO’s. Crucially, these profiles can be remotely loaded and swapped out for new ones. This allows far greater flexibility for the user, and the ability to change services.
This type of SIM is therefore called an eSIM. However, an eSIM can be available in different forms, with plastic and also embedded into the mother board of a device at the time of manufacture. The latter saves space, and avoids the laborious process of loading plastic SIMs into hundreds of devices.
A further development to the eSIM is the iSIM concept, where the SIM functionality is designed into the chipset of the device, saving even more space and weight.
Most devices which already use a plastic regular SIM can also use a plastic eSIM (although testing of this first is advised). This means that companies can start using plastic eSIMs right away – so long as their service provider can offer them a suitable choice of service profile. The real benefits of eSIM will be realised when most IoT device manufacturers design eSIM (or iSIM) functionality into their devices.
Trafalgar Wireless can provide a comprehensive eSIM service, right away. Within the US, we offer localised eSIM connectivity on both AT&T and Verizon, with an additional roaming profile available for T-Mobile. Our Connectivity Management platform and API enable customers to initiate profile changes themselves.
For more information, contact us using the form below or call 770 250 0518.