Understanding Why eSIMs and Remote SIM Provisioning Matter

February 27, 2024

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The embedded SIM (eSIM) is a dedicated chip attached to a device’s printed circuit board (PCB). This form factor can host multiple operator profiles on the same SIM card. Because of these unique features, remote SIM provisioning is only possible with eSIM. Remote SIM provisioning is the ability to configure and provision subscriptions remotely without manually inserting a new SIM.

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The Challenges of Provisioning with Traditional SIMs

Data protected with blue force field around a SIM card.

Provisioning for traditional SIM cards requires physically activating or inserting a plastic SIM into a device. However, Internet of Things (IoT) device deployments continue to become more global and large-scale, making manual provisioning inefficient.

These businesses with global deployments must work with different connectivity service providers. As a result, they must insert new SIMs into those devices at various manufacturing and commissioning stages.

These extra steps create additional logistics and production overhead to maintain SIM stock-keeping units (SKUs) and proper testing. Moreover, soldered SIM cards are a management headache because of the massive number of parts and hardware variants.

Also, companies often implement complex installation workflows, including trial-and-error routines. During these workflows, plastic SIMs are inserted, tested and exchanged for alternative ones in case there’s no coverage. If a business changes mobile network operators (MNOs), they must send people into the field to perform provisioning. This process costs time and money.

eSIM and Remote Provisioning  

A digital representation of an eSIM.

Several notable technologies and standards support remote provisioning. A bootstrap profile downloads the information to provision a SIM card. This permits an eSIM to be delivered without any operator profile. Businesses will also need to remotely manage their inventory of SIMs and subscriptions through a remote SIM provisioning platform.

Furthermore, remote provisioning depends on the embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC). eUICC is the eSIM software component. It uses a standard sponsored by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA). GSMA links MNOs, SIM vendors and other companies to drive the standards that define remote SIM provisioning, promoting interoperability.

Among the many GSMA specifications, here are the most pertinent to this topic:

  • eSIM machine-to-machine (M2M) technical specifications SGP.02
  • eSIM consumer technical specifications SGP.22 
  • eSIM IoT technical specifications SGP.32

5 eSIM and Remote Provisioning Use Cases

The automotive industry is the clear leader in eUICC shipments worldwide. However, the reliability and security of eSIMs make it suitable for various IoT verticals.

1. Smart Energy and Smart Metering 

Managing multiple deployments in different countries presents significant complexity and logistics concerns. Utilities need the ability to change MNOs, and eSIMs give them flexibility.

2. Industrial Smart Security and Surveillance Systems 

Security and surveillance applications require 24/7 connectivity. eSIMs help overcome outage situations since different profiles allow the end users to switch profiles to maintain connectivity.

3. Telematics and Transportation 

Whether for cold chain or asset tracking, telematics use cases involve the movement of goods across countries and borders. Businesses can pair eSIMs and global connectivity plans to use local operators’ data plans in countries with roaming restrictions.

4. Global Deployments

Every application that needs to deploy globally with multiple local MNOs will benefit from remote provisioning capabilities.

5. 5G Consumer Devices

eSIM can support many 5G use cases — especially consumer devices, such as routers and gateways.   

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Simplify Remote SIM Provisioning with Telit Cinterion 

Remote SIM provisioning is complex. Telit Cinterion is one of the few vendors offering an end-to-end solution. Our relationship with different SIM vendors allows us to provide over-the-air and over-the-wire provisioning solutions. Our IoT Connectivity Portal gives you complete control and visibility of your global IoT deployment.

Speak with our IoT connectivity experts to explore our eSIM and remote SIM provisioning solutions.