The Internet of Things (IoT) market is evolving rapidly; so does supporting technologies such as SIM. SIM cards play a crucial role in connecting IoT devices.
However, the limitations with physical SIM cards, such as the risk of theft, space consumption, less durability, etc., are becoming more expensive and difficult to accommodate.
eSIM and iSIM technologies are an answer to physical SIM’s drawbacks. They are flexible and less expensive drivers of the evolving connected devices.
These technologies use embedded chips instead of cards to improve IoT devices’ longevity, security, and reliability.
In this article, we will learn about eSIM and, iSIM technologies and their contribution to ensuring more expanded IoT capabilities.
We will also have a look at what to expect of future eSIM and iSIM technologies.
What is eSIM technology?
The standard SIM has various limitations that the embedded SIM solves. Most traditional SIM cards have technical restrictions.
For instance, they have carrier lock-ins that restrict the use of these sims to a specific network or country. That is not the case with the eSIM.
eSIM has a remote profile management technology that allows users to switch to a different cellular technology. Say LTE, 3G, 2G, or a different carrier network, without physically switching out the SIM card.
Such features on the eSIM make it possible to connect more IoT devices, particularly for global deployments. Unlike with the traditional SIMs, you do not need to buy, install or manage different SIM card SKUs for each country in which they are used.
That is partly why eSIM is a choice for many when it comes to IoT deployments. GSMA Intelligence projects the total number of IoT connections to grow to 25.2 billion by 2025.
eSIM installations are expected to grow by nearly 80% by this time.
What is iSIM technology?
The integrated SIM (iSIM) is a recent advancement of eSIM technology and is expected to disrupt cellular IoT. Its major development is moving the embedded universal integrated circuit card (eUICC) functionality onto devices’ hardware.
iSIM relies on a system-on-a-chip (SOC) architecture. Such an architecture supports existing processors and cellular modems.
This is a significant technology improvement from eSIM. eSIM’s functionality relies on a separate processor and requires a share of a device’s hardware footprint.
iSIM is tiny. This makes it suitable for smaller IoT hardware, including shrinking medical devices and wearables. You can take an iSIM connected device to different countries or regions and add it to an IoT network remotely without restrictions.
What makes an eSIM and iSIM better for the IoT?
Businesses that use IoT systems will benefit from eSIM and iSIM. eSIM and iSIM technologies boost large-scale machine-to-machine deployments. For example, power plants, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, as well as oil and gas plants.
Before the introduction of eSIM and iSIM, companies working with an extensive collection of hardware that require mobile connectivity used to install a SIM card in each unit.
eSIM and iSIM have eliminated such time-consuming tasks. This allows businesses to connect all their technology to a mobile network remotely.
Today, if a business needs to operate a certain technology in another country, it programs that tech remotely to connect to a local operator in the target country.
IoT devices connected through eSIM and iSIM can send data through many networks. They make it straightforward to shift connectivity providers when the need arises.
This happens without swapping out the physical SIM (like what happens with traditional SIM) or establishing new operator contracts or International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI).
IoT service providers may shift connectivity due to:
- Presence of new and better networks.
- Better pricing for connectivity or geographic location change.
eSIM and iSIM are a boost to industrial IoT’s efforts to increase the usage of wireless mobile sensors and connected devices. Wireless sensors are used in more challenging locations for monitoring and managing plants.
Everything is done over the air which is energy efficient and seamless. These wireless devices have a better battery performance compared to wired devices. This increases energy efficiency for connected devices.
Benefits of iSIM and eSIM technologies
Before iSIM and eSIM, traditional cards required significant logistics to maintain SIM connectivity and provision devices. But today, you can handle such tasks from a single IoT platform quickly.
Both iSIM and eSIM are versatile which promotes low operating costs for companies. It also provides the space to grow IoT ecosystems.
Devices using iSIM and eSIM can be moved anywhere in the world and joined to other IoT networks. Such devices also allow over-the-air (OTA) programming and remote provisioning.
This lightens the infrastructural load on IoT deployment significantly.
Maintains high-security levels
Cybercrime is a common concern for IoT providers, developers, and device users. As part of an effort to address such an issue, iSIM developers implanted SIM functionality into every module component with a hardware element.
This element provides a carrier-grade functionality like that of a physical SIM. eSIMs and iSIM are embedded into the device, so they are not separate hardware. That way, cases of SIM theft, replacement, and alteration are minimal.
The traditional SIM requires IoT original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to use extra sockets, circuity, and components that are unnecessary in manufacturing eSIMs and iSIM.
iSIM requires few components since its connectivity is integrated directly into the chipset. The cost of acquiring such a SIM reduces without impacting the reliability.
Users of eSIMs and iSIM can connect to a wide range of cellular networks without physically replacing or purchasing a new SIM. The logistical management of cards becomes easy, especially for large consumers of IoT devices.
The future of eSIM and iSIM
eSIMs and iSIM technologies are promising improvements in the scalability, design, and security of IoT solutions. While the potential of eSIMs and iSIM is yet to be fully realized, cases of successful use of these technologies are increasing daily.
eSIMs and iSIM are likely to drive innovations among IoT devices. The IoT landscape is evolving rapidly, and eSIMs and iSIM are built with flexible provisioning to ensure devices accommodate future network changes.
While traditional cellular carriers focus on building eSIMs and iSIM infrastructure, the end-users expect Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) to provide affordable and more flexible IoT networking solutions.
iSIM improves on the eSIM technology and solves numerous limitations. This is expected to continue with iSIM technology developments. Such as combining the device’s SIM card and processor into one component.
This will free some space for accommodating larger batteries, more RAM capacity, and thinner phones.
The traditional SIM restricts cellular IoT users to a single region or carrier. eSIMs and iSIM removed such restrictions to allow users to provision their SIM to any network.
Users now have the option of choosing between iSIMs, eSIMs, and traditional SIM. This decision is based on the connectivity strategy that meets their IoT deployment needs.
A new IoT world with increasingly connected people is a possible reality with iSIM and eSIMs technologies.
Peer Review Contributions by: Dawe Daniel