Strong IoT device authentication is required to ensure connected devices on the IoT can be trusted to be what they purport to be. Consequently, each IoT device needs a unique identity that can be authenticated when the device attempts to connect to a gateway or central server. With this unique ID in place, IT system administrators can track each device throughout its lifecycle, communicate securely with it, and prevent it from executing harmful processes. If a device exhibits unexpected behavior, administrators can simply revoke its privileges.
SIM card has been background technology responsible for authenticating subscribers on a mobile network, setting up a new phone or upgrading a mobile device. Legacy SIMs are based on the familiar, removable cards that we’ve all seen (and probably dropped) at some point. With accelerating development of Internet of Things and other connected devices, device makers, MNOs and IoT service providers face a growing need to replace the standard SIM with something smaller, more versatile, and more efficient.
There are several challenges associated with physical SIM cards. First is Size. As IoT and connected consumer devices continue to shrink, a physical SIM card occupies a relatively larger proportion of a device. This creates a design challenge for device makers that may need that space for an important feature.
Second is logistics of shipping and Management of so many SIM cards and matching them up with the right connected devices becomes ever more challenging and costly. Organizations that manage inventories of mobile devices must purchase, track and manage every SIM card under its control. The cost and logistical complexity of physically doing this makes SIM card technology untenable for deploying large numbers of devices—such as in industrial IoT, IoT logistics or smart cities applications.
Physical SIM cards can be also be easily dislodged and damaged. The ability to physically remove a card from a device makes it easy to steal, which happens countless times every day, around the world. Embedded SIMs (eSIMs) and integrated SIMs (iSIMs), two new forms of SIM that provide the services of traditional SIMs while offering enhanced security, reduced size, and remote provisioning capabilities.
Embedded eSIM technology offers an elegant, robust, and almost infinitely scalable solution to the legacy SIM challenges in IoT applications. An eSIM is still a physical SIM, but instead of being removable, it’s soldered permanently into a device. Authorized users can access and update profiles and other data on the eSIM via an over-the-air, remote SIM provisioning solution (RSP).
eSIM shipment volumes are expected to grow by more than 300% between 2016 and 2023, with exponential growth numbers driven by business demands for simplified, long-term IoT connectivity solutions. Although some major cellular carriers are beginning to introduce eSIM solutions to market, the value is restricted to carrier-specific capabilities as they relate to coverage area, technology compatibility (i.e. 2G, 3G, LTE etc.), and other value-added services that may inhibit them from adequately addressing the business challenges that eSIM technologies are designed to alleviate.
eSIM and iSIM: Drivers of innovation and opportunity
eSIM and iSIM are technologies for authenticating subscribers and devices on mobile networks. eSIM was the initial innovation, based on the open, vendor-neutral standard developed by the GSMA. iSIM is a more recent development and hasn’t been declared a standard as yet, but it already enjoys broad industry support.
Organisations are increasingly seeking the remote SIM card management capabilities that eSIM delivers, including secure OTA provisioning, to avoid lifecycle challenges associated with changing cellular technologies as well as carrier lock-in. eSIM refers to the whole solution of providing a remotely provisioned SIM, including the hardware, software and subscription management system needed to deploy it.
Remote SIM provisioning involves downloading a network profile and network key, which in turn requires the consent of the network operator that owns the network profile. To do a network swap requires two network profiles from different operators to be present in the SIM – the original one and the one being swapped to.
An eSIM addresses the earlier challenges :
- Smaller. The eSIM at 5×6 millimeters is approximately half the size of a Nano SIM card, which is 12×8.8 millimeters. An iSIM goes into nanometer sizes, a fraction of that of Nano SIM card. This further reduction in size gives device manufacturers more design flexibility and lowers their production costs.
- Can be managed remotely. You can remotely manage profiles to change networks or update settings on almost any number of eSIM devices using the RSP technology.
- Tamper proof. You can’t drop and accidentally step on an eSIM.
- Theft proof. You can’t steal an eSIM.
iSIM amplifies and extends these and other qualities, while also eliminating some of eSIM’s shortcomings. iSIM’s major innovation is that it moves SIM functionality into a device’s permanent hardware array. Unlike eSIM, however, iSIM no longer relies on a separate processor; nor does it demand a significant share of a device’s hardware footprint. Instead, iSIM enables hardware OEMs and processor design companies to design system-on-a-chip (SOC) architectures that integrate SIM functionality with an existing, onboard processor and cellular modem. Since iSIM devices require fewer components, they cost less to build. And as a rule, iSIM’s simpler design also leads to more reliable—and thus less costly—devices.
Within a network profile are many IMSIs and a Multi IMSI approach provides the facility to change the IMSI that is active on a particular connection. This can mean changing from one IMSI on one mobile network to another IMSI on another – in other words, a network swap similar in effect to an eUICC. In order to make that swap, at least two IMSIs need to be present on the SIM. Typically there is space on a SIM for several and some systems offer the facility to remotely download a new IMSI.
KORE Awarded IoT Breakthrough M2M Innovative Solution 2020 Award
KORE, a pioneer, leader, and trusted advisor in IoT deployment, delivering transformative business performance from IoT solutions, today announced that its KORE eSIM Solution has been selected as the winner of the “M2M Innovative Solution of the Year” award in the 4th annual IoT Breakthrough Awards program.
The KORE global eSIM capabilities simplify the complexity of navigating evolving network technologies or switching carrier networks with a single eSIM. The KORE eSIM solution eliminates the need for physical SIM swaps across multiple carriers or technologies via seamless, remote eSIM provisioning. The KORE eSIM offering provides a global, flexible, and “future-proofed” IoT connectivity solution that goes beyond traditional eSIM offerings to deliver technology-agnostic network access worldwide, with support for value-added services and comprehensive eSIM management.
“The KORE eSIM represents true industry ‘breakthrough’ by offering a global, future-proof IoT connectivity solution that goes beyond traditional eSIM offerings to deliver technology-agnostic network access worldwide,” said James Johnson, managing director at IoT Breakthrough. “KORE’s innovation stays ahead of the curve in the burgeoning IoT space and we look forward to what they will bring to the table in 2020 and beyond. Congratulations to the entire KORE team on their well-deserved 2020 IoT Breakthrough Award designation.”
KORE simplifies the complexity of IoT to offer a single eSIM that supports multiple carrier profiles and remote SIM provisioning, so customers benefit from the most flexible, future-proof IoT connectivity solution available today. KORE eSIM features include:
Embedded Connectivity: Streamline your IoT ecosystem with one SIM that’s bundled with resilient, global coverage to meet the needs of virtually any application from day one.
Future-proof Design: Deploy a single, ruggedised SIM that can last for the entire lifecycle of a device for easy upgrades and maximum investment returns.
Device auto Provisioning: Simplify your operations with single SKU SIM cards that can be remotely and automatically provisioned to the optimal local network.
“Our focus throughout our eSIM journey has been developing a rich connectivity ecosystem, which is critical to leveraging eSIM technology,” said Marco Bijvelds, Vice President, Product Management International, KORE. “But more than switching technology and partnerships, success in eSIM is about realising tangible business benefits and we are confident that KORE can best help customers understand how to use eSIM and add value with measurable results. The KORE eSIM solution is the next generation in SIM technology and we are proud to receive this 2020 IoT Breakthrough Award in recognition of our hard work and success with KORE eSIM.”