NEW DELHI: An embedded SIM (subscriber identity module) or eSIM, as the name suggests, is in-built into a smartphone or Internet of Things (IoT) device’s main board, compared to a physical SIM that needs to be slotted into a smartphone by the user.
An embedded SIM comes with secure hardware and software which contain subscriber details and other specifications for connecting to the telecom operator’s mobile network.
eSIM and iSIM solutions provider Kigen notes that eSIM is a GSMA specification that enables remote SIM provisioning (RSP) of any cellular device. It allows for a simple and secure method for downloading a user profile (or multiple profiles) over the air from a telco.
According to French multinational Thales, eSIM cards are used in a wide variety of products including smartphones, wearables, as well as smart meters, medical IoT devices, home automation, IoT asset tracking devices, and handheld point of sales (POS) systems, among others.
Research firm Juniper Research estimates that the number of IoT connections using eSIM technology will grow from just 22 million in 2023 to 195 million in 2027. It has separately forecasted that the value of eSIM market will grow from $4.7 billion in 2023 to $16.3 billion by 2027.
Below are the top use cases of eSIM, according to Kigen, KORE Wireless, Thales and IDEMIA:
Automotive: Automakers can reduce costs while improving customer service. The automobile companies can manage eSIM in their vehicles under a managed services model, rather than outsourcing it to a telco. The use of eSIM in a vehicle can enable telematics, live location tracking and other location-based services, allow owners to track their rented vehicles, while also enabling aggregator companies to manage their fleets effectively.
The onset of connected vehicles and more use of software features will also enable companies to roll out over-the-air (OTA) updates.
Agriculture: KORE says that eSIM for IoT has made precision farming more efficient for harvesters globally. Complexities large-scale farming across several nations can be addressed by central network management which can help track equipment, livestock and people through smaller, affordable devices. Smart farming itself uses GPS, sensors, and control systems. Besides, data can be transmitted in real-time which can allow farmers or farm owners to take preventive measures and plan schedules accordingly.
Shipping and logistics: eSIM technology allows tracked assets to be shipped in any part of the world and provisioned on any telecom network. As mentioned earlier, eSIM eliminates the need to physically swap out the SIM card. Telcos can change network profiles as needed using remote SIM provisioning. This also lowers tracking costs while low power M2M modules require fewer battery changes in operations.
Smart cities: An embedded SIM can help with smart monitoring systems in smart cities that track metrics such as electricity consumption, water consumption, waste collection, traffic patterns, etc., which can support the generation of insights for making the lives of common people convenient.
Wearables: The growing importance of ‘smart’ quotient in wearables is also driving the use of eSIM in these devices.
For instance, connected medical devices can pair sensors with connectivity in various applications like smart weight scales, thermometers, and pulse oximeters, according to KORE. The readings hence collected from these applications can be sent to cloud-based platforms which can be examined by healthcare professionals. This is especially useful for remote healthcare delivery and patient care.
Kigen says that devices such as glucose monitors, EKG monitors, fall detectors, augmented reality (AR) glasses can be made more secure and use lesser power.
Home security: With eSIM technology, home-owners can ensure that their home security devices remain connected wirelessly, in case, external cables like power or fibre are cut. If the owner shifts his home then the hub can also be reprovisioned for in another network. Further, the service provider is freed from the concerns of tampering, Kigen observes .
‘Try and buy’ 5G services: French identity-related security solutions provider IDEMIA notes that eSIM makes it convenient for telcos to propose innovative services to their customers and help them assess value proposition of such services. It says that the ‘try and buy’ connectivity offerings could drive the adoption of fifth generation network-driven services such as 4K streaming, gaming, AR and VR (virtual reality).