The Benefits of SIM-Less Cellular Technology for the Smart Utilities

January 10, 2019

How SIM-Less Cellular Technology Simplifies Design & Reduces Cost for Smart Utility Applications  

Traditional SIM technology as we know it today, was inherited from a “subscriber centric” eco-system. It was a “good enough” solution for the first product revisions but now with OEMs and service providers needing to scale their operations (with the adoption of cellular LPWA) the industry must re-think the way we connect devices to the network.

Aerial view of a city at night with glowing dots connected with lines.

Why has the SIM card been the singular piece of network technology all this time, and what new technologies will finally replace it in the age of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions?

SIM-less cellular technology has finally arrived, simplifying the design of IoT modules and reducing costs across enterprise and public works deployments. In the realm of non-consumer targeted IoT, smart utility applications can help deliver energy savings and better response to grid maintenance/outage needs with 24/7 connected meters and grid monitoring devices.  Scalability and costs are also fundamental to smart city efforts.   SIM-less technology can help municipalities view city energy usage reports in real time, send problem reports on waste management to city utility workers, and even order preventive maintenance for monitored infrastructure like water-mains, street lighting and others.

And it can do all of this without the use of a SIM card.

What are SIM Cards Used For?

It has taken decades for the need for SIM card technology to finally dwindle, because it has had such a vital role in personalized mobile technology.  As mobile technology grows, smaller and more module-based form factors and software deliver the same connectivity capabilities as SIM cards. With new technology, remote SIM provisioning on SIM-less modules circumvents the hassle for monitoring home conditions while on a business trip overseas.  

SIM cards take up space and are a costly part of the manufacturing process. While we are stuck with SIM cards for a little while longer, new technologies are emerging that work better with multiple-network connectivity and IoT applications for home use, such as smart utilities and health-based device connectivity. These new technologies also save money in mobile applications roaming outside their home regions, considering that some operators require switching SIM card profiles in order to gain cost and signal optimized network connectivity.

The Benefits of SIM-Less Cellular Technology

SIM-less technology, such as Telit simWISE module-embedded software technology, acts as a replacement or complement to traditional SIM cards. It does this by storing mobile network operator (MNO) credentials of providers, performing the same function of SIM cards. The technology was devised with direct IoT customer requirements as guidelines making it unique in the market.

This technology offers the following key benefits:

  • Lower total cost of ownership.
  • Embedded cyber-security technology – utilizing advanced security features in the underlying hardware.
  • Ability to build resilient, ruggedized IoT devices with a smaller footprint.
  • Real-time subscription changes.
  • Streamlined logistics and provisioning.
  • Elimination of costly control, stock and shipping pre-provisioned SIM cards.

Operating on 2G since June 2017, which is a primary network for large-scale IoT deployments across Europe, simWISE software will dramatically reduce the risk, time to market, complexity, and cost of manufacturing IoT devices.

What Does This Mean for Smart Utilities?

As the costs of mobile technology are reduced, the ability to connect more devices to a secure line increase. This means that more connected grids and meters will help save more money across the board from water management sensors that track quality, temperature, pressure, consumption, and more to energy consumption in lighting, electricity, oil, and gas.

Business Insider’s BI Intelligence research service estimates that “the global installed base of smart meters will increase from 450 million in 2015 to 930 million in 2020, which would mark a compound annual growth rate of 15%. Total smart meter installations will grow to 134 million by 2020.” And in order to meet the needs of this rapid growth, a different, more efficient and scalable provisioning scenario is needed.

Just like the SIM-less technology saving space and materials, IoT will help consumers boost their conservation efforts and lessen their footprint on the environment while lowering monthly bills. For industries looking to streamline their shipping or heating and cooling operations, the savings will be even greater.

Ditch the SIM in Favor of Savings with Telit

Telit, a global enabler of IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) applications, invites you to discover simWISE and how it can increase effectiveness and reduce maintenance costs at all points in your IoT deployment. Think globally. Request a sample module today and see why Telit is the industry leader for IoT connectivity.