Change is coming to the Canadian and global telecom landscape, and it’s hardware based!
Read on to learn about why eSIMs are exciting the industry, what they are, and why you should plan for how they will change your company and life in the next few years.
1. What the heck is an eSIM?
It’s the evolved SIM card. eSims are embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) devices, and are remotely re-programmable. More specifically the ‘eSIM’ is a global specification by the GSMA which enables remote SIM provisioning of any smart device.
You’ll sometimes see these terms used: eSIM, eUICC, or embedded SIM - all three are largely interchangeable.
2. What are the advantages over traditional SIMs?
There are many, but the biggest is that it can handle multiple applications and on the cloud re-programming. Another is that new devices will be designed with integrated eSIMs, removing the need to build-in a physical access port. One of our office favourites is: seamless carrier change-over, especially across borders where roaming would have killed your data budget, we are also excited about ‘no more drawers full of SIM cards’ facet, and no further need to have dual SIM card phones!
From a security & change-management perspective: you can deactivate eSIMs remotely.
There is so much to get excited about and innovate on!
3. Why should I care about support for multiple applications in an eSIM?
One sentence: over the air provisioning (OTAP).
With OTAP, the profile which identifies the mobile device to a wireless service provider can be accessed and updated. This also means that one eSIM can house multiple carrier profiles. The GSMA said it best “Remote provisioning is the ability to remotely change the SIM profile on a deployed eSIM without having to physically change the eSIM itself. This technology can be implemented on any eSIM form factor.” With further application development, this means a device that travels between carrier boundaries can seamlessly shift into area-native networks and not incur roaming charges (just one benefit).
4. Will this replace all my SIM card needs?
Not in the very near future. eSIMs are meant for applications that might require remote reprogramming. In the long term, eSIMs may become the standard, but today they are part of the road to an integrated IoT ecosystem.
5. What does this have to do with IoT?
EVERYTHING! Pardon the excitement, we here at Simplify Wireless are deeply embedded in IoT and future/current applications, so let me explain one application that is largely based on the eSIM's Machine-to-Machine (M2M) capabilities.
In industrial and environmental applications, devices will/are often deployed in low human-traffic areas. Imagine sensors on all the street lights along a stretch of a highway. Now imagine having to physically change-out SIMs to update a carrier setting. Now imagine how an eSIM could change that. With the push of a few lines of code, all your sensors could switch over to a new network in a matter of seconds. Imagine the savings! The GSMA Embedded SIM Specification simplifies industrial and logistic processes for the distribution of devices. Devices that by sheer volume of distribution require remote provisioning to update the hundreds of potential touch-points.
6. What’s so neat about eSIMs and M2M capabilities?
Mobile networks are being used to connect all sorts of devices, many of which never talk to a human, but report data to a central system.
This network of chit-chat between machines is growing, a lot. The number of mobile connected devices is expected to hit 10.5 billion by 2020, predominantly in the machine to machine (M2M) and consumer electronics sectors. Without remote access to these connected devices, distributors and management ecosystem would struggle if solely dependent upon the traditional SIM card, which is predicated on only associating with one network operator.
7. So the eSIM is the one hardware innovation to rule them all?!
Not exactly, not yet. Let me expand … The GSMA in its push to have eSIMs available created two streams of deployment: M2M and consumer companion (aka: phones and human interfacing devices).
Each stream targets very specific functionalities, but there is movement to have a future harmonized application eSIM. This is why the answer is more of a “let’s wait and see”.
8. Who supports the eSIM standard?
Globally the GSMA Embedded SIM Specification has been backed by over twenty operators, two leading M2M Alliances and a host of OEMs. Within Canada all the major carriers have in some way started on the road to adopting eSIMs. According to MobileSyrup, Rogers confirmed plans to start supporting the eSIM in 2018. Stating it would update customers as it gets closer to full support. Bell announced a partnership with eSIM company G+D Mobile Security in November of 2017, to provide its customers with an embedded SIM solution. Telus came on board with the Apple Smart Watch 3, an eSIM integrated device, in late 2017.
9. What are some devices that are available in Canada today that have eSIMs?
Tough question to answer, as the information will be outdated as soon as Bell, Rogers or Telus incorporate more devices into their eSIM line-up. At present the Apple Smart Watch 3 and the Google Pixel 2 are eSIM configured. This quote comes to us via CDN from Vicky Obenshain, vice president of wireless strategy of Panasonic North America’s system communications division, and shows how much effort is being put into eSIM adoption and why: “We’ve been looking at having a global network component as part of the platform for the last five years, and the key was that it has to be seamless regardless of the region, it needs to connect automatically, and it needs to be global... If you are leaving Ontario and want to land in Barcelona, you want to be immediately connected and not be roaming”
10. This is exciting, but how will all of this be managed?
It sure is exciting, and eSIMs are the promise to more clarity and connectivity for the growing IoT and borderless world.
However, all of these devices will still need to be managed by a wireless coordinator. Having to never replace a SIM card will mean savings in a plethora of sectors, and managing 100x the devices will become the norm for your team. So how can you get started before the wave of IoT and eSIM devices makes its way into your company? Enter Simplify Wireless (SW). Check out our post on IoT and wireless management, and the signs you can use to prepare for the 4th industrial revolution here. SW is a platform that serves as mission-control for all of your wireless needs. We build the story of each device with you from when you want to start procurement to when a device has served its purpose, and every step in its lifecycle.
We have ongoing no-obligation 30 minute demos -- sign up here.
Peeked your curiosity? Here is a cleaned-up and shortened list of resources we used for this article:
Are you ready for the 4th industrial revolution (IoT), Simplify Wireless: https://www.simplifywireless.com/blog/are-you-ready-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution
Presentation - eSIM innovation and use-case: https://www.gsma.com/esim//wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2.-e-SIM-Connect-DT-ThomasHenze_v2.pdf
eSIM - no more roaming fees: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3235522/mobile-wireless/esim-no-more-roaming-fees-ever.html
Panasonic eSIM overview and quote from Vicky Obenshain: https://www.computerdealernews.com/news/panasonics-new-global-connectivity-offering-ditches-the-roaming-charges/57062 (CDN)
Google's eSIM Pixel 2 are just the beginning (Canada): https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/googles-esims-on-the-pixel-are-just-the-beginning/399329
GSMA eSIM overview: https://www.gsma.com/iot/embedded-sim/
What is an eSIM and how is it different from a traditional SIM card: https://www.howtogeek.com/331442/what-is-an-esim-and-how-is-it-different-from-a-sim-card/
What is an eSIM: http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinion/what-is-an-e-sim-2926904
Telus announces eSIM support for Apple Watch 3: https://mobilesyrup.com/2017/12/05/telus-apple-watch-series-3-lte-data-plans-available/
eSIM carriers in Canada: https://mobilesyrup.com/2017/05/04/esim-canada-smartphone-carriers/
Rogers confirms support and rollout for eSIM technology: https://mobilesyrup.com/2018/01/02/rogers-confirms-plans-support-esims-year/