IoT technology is advancing at an extraordinary rate. Breakthroughs in miniaturization, security, resilience, cloud integration, AI, and accessibility are driving up demand for IoT devices. Ericsson forecasts that by 2022 there will be nearly 30 billion connected devices, with 20 billion of those being IoT products.
IoT devices will be ubiquitous across every sector and industry, from the smart home and personal devices to large-scale commercial and industrial usage, and municipal operations. This will create an enormous explosion in data transfer and cellular connections, with Cisco estimating an astonishing 700% growth in mobile data usage over the next five years.
This rapid growth of IoT devices and cellular connectivity is great for device manufacturers and mobile network operators, but it hides a big problem — SIM cards.
The Issues with Traditional SIM Card Provisioning and Installation
We’ve been using SIM cards for a long time, and they’re part of the fabric of cellular communications. Unfortunately, SIM cards have a major issue — the cost and administrative overhead of using them. The typical device manufacturer, mobile operator, or even the end user needs to go through multiple steps to use SIM cards — let’s break it down:
- Identify the devices that require SIM cards and the type of cards they need.
- Ensure that the correct SIM cards are ordered from the right manufacturer, with compatible integrations and capabilities.
- Receive the SIM cards from the manufacturer.
- Distribute SIM cards to the people who manage the devices.
- Insert the SIM cards, configure them to the right profile, and test the devices.
- Distribute the devices for installation and usage.
Each of these steps takes time and incurs a cost. Multiply that by the predicted growth in IoT devices and it’s clear that manufacturers and operators will spend enormous amounts of time just dealing with SIM cards. It’s not just the initial provisioning and installation that creates an overhead. Every time an IoT device needs to be serviced, decommissioned, replaced, or upgraded, new SIM cards might be needed.
Imagine that the average IoT device needs 30 minutes to identify, source, order, install, configure, and distribute the SIM card, and that the card has to be replaced once during its lifecycle, which takes 15 minutes. If you provision 100,000 devices a year, that’s 75,000 hours, 10,700 days, or 43 years of manpower, every year. All of that overhead and manpower has to be paid for, and if you’re paying an engineer an average of $70,000 a year, that’s $3 million in overhead costs…
There has to be a better way.
Transforming the Traditional SIM Card — The Integrated eSIM
The embedded SIM (eSIM) is a significant step forward for device manufacturers and cellular network operators. It takes the concept of a traditional SIM but embeds it into any connected IoT device. An eSIM can be easily integrated and hardwired as part of IoT device manufacturing.
eSIMs have several advantages over traditional SIM cards:
- eSIMs cannot be removed, this enhances security and ties the eSIM identification to a specific device.
- eSIMs are 90% smaller than SIM cards, allowing for greater miniaturization and freeing up space for other hardware and device functions.
- eSIMs can be sealed inside an IoT device, making it fully-waterproof.
- eSIMs are durable, making them more resilient to hostile environments.
- eSIMs have greater memory capacity, allowing for more capabilities, configurations, and profiles.
- eSIMs can handle shock, vibration, temperature fluctuations, moisture, and corrosion, significantly expanding IoT device use cases.
- eSIMs allow device manufacturers to reduce the size and weight of IoT devices.
eSIMs give all of these advantages, and they solve the problem with provisioning and installation.
eSIMs, Suppliers, Manufacturers, IoT Devices, and Provisioning
Because eSIMs are embedded in devices, provisioning is much easier:
- Devices have hardwired SIMs, so there’s no need to identify, source, order, or install traditional SIM cards.
- eSIMs can easily be configured remotely, with multiple profiles and for several use cases.
- For maintenance or upgrades, the whole IoT device can be replaced, using a “Plug and Play” approach.
Imagine if the overhead, time, and cost of provisioning SIM cards for IoT devices was cut by three quarters. You could save the equivalent of over 30 years of manpower costs a year, or over $2 million. What would you do with all that time and money?
Solving the eSIM vs. Traditional SIM Problem
Despite the clear advantages of eSIMs, the vast majority of connected devices still rely on traditional SIM cards. Device manufacturers and mobile network operators can’t be expected to make the shift to eSIMs overnight. McKinsey & Company predicts that traditional SIM cards will still be the main way that devices connectivity channel for the next 5 years. This is because:
- It’s difficult to retrofit legacy technology for eSIMs.
- Product design, testing, and manufacture of eSIM capable IoT devices takes time.
- Research, development, and market testing are needed.
- There needs to be a phased transition from traditional SIM cards to eSIMs.
We can solve this problem using embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC) software.
eUICC software is installed on traditional SIM cards but provides the remote provisioning, profile, and configuration functions of eSIMs. Device manufacturers can install eUICC-enabled traditional SIMs, allowing legacy technology to be retrofitted.
The Advantages of eUICC Software for IoT Suppliers and Manufacturers
It’s worth exploring the difference between eSIMs and eUICC software.
- The eSIM is the hardware component that can be integrated into connected IoT devices.
- The eUICC component is the software that allows for remote SIM provisioning of multiple network profiles across both eSIMs and traditional SIM cards.
eUICC software allows the provisioner or user to choose a network profile to configure, download, and connect with a remote IoT device, without needing to physically insert or swap out components.
Because eUICC works across both traditional SIM cards and eSIMs, it is an ideal “bridging” tool for IoT manufacturers and cellular network providers. You can easily phase in support for eSIMs, alongside traditional ones that can be used in legacy devices.
Device manufacturers can easily configure and update all connected IoT devices, across countries, sue cases, industries, and more. eUICC lengthens the lifespan of SIMs as profile additions, updates, or deletions are now managed virtually through remote SIM provisioning.
We Can Help You with eSIMs, eUICC, Transition, Subscription, and Remote Provisioning
You can see how eSIMs and eUICC software can deliver huge benefits to your devices and customers, and significantly reduce sourcing, administrative, and provisioning costs. The question is, how do you shift to this new technology?
Here at Workz, we can help. We’re experts in eSIM OS, design, manufacture, and implementation, and have extensive experience with eUICC software across both traditional and eSIM provisioning. We can:
- Advise on transitioning legacy IoT devices.
- Help you run a phased approach as you introduce eSIMs.
- Create a strategy for full eSIM integration.
- Provide all the eSIM hardware, software, and expertise you need.
We’ll adapt our support and expertise to your exact needs and will be your partner before, during, and after your shift to an eSIM approach. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.