The world’s digital connections have gained momentum and more and more devices are being connected, boosting productivity and innovation in every industry. Connectivity is no longer a “nice to have”, but a requirement as customers are increasingly dependent on it and the services that come with it. With this comes increased requirements on reliability, availability, and performance. This in turn leads to complying with the global trend to enforce regulatory requirements on communication services and data management such as data cannot leave the country. In such cases, enterprises need local deployments and local wireless carriers.
As a result, there have been advancements to the traditional SIM. The GSMA has made technological improvements to the UICC, now called the eUICC. The eUICC is a new standard that allows the SIM to be remotely programed and reprogramed, host multiple wireless carrier profiles, and makes the selection, contracting, and onboarding of wireless carriers easier with Over-The-Air (OTA) provisioning. This standard is applied differently for Consumer IoT and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) IoT.
While eSIM technology is a huge advancement that can help enterprises keep up with the trends, the two standards are far from ideal. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each standard.
Consumer eSIM Standard
The Consumer Standard, as the name suggests, targets Consumer devices, like mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and wearables as well as other Consumer IoT devices with an end-user interactive environment. Device manufactures implement the Consumer eSIM into their designs and the end-user enjoys the digitization of carrier subscription activations and changes. It is designed for private consumer use not for enterprises.
Pros: The Consumer eSIM is secure by design, can host multiple wireless carrier profiles, and facilitates carrier swaps. The end-user can easily and quickly add and switch between carriers using QR codes or the carrier eSIM provisioning app.
Cons: On the other hand, it doesn’t take into account the needs of organizations and the need to manage their fleet of devices. Enterprise based devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and hotspots are an integral part of how enterprises conduct business today, yet they do not have full control over the installation and management of carrier profiles. The Consumer eSIM Standard fails to offer enterprises centralized management of eSIM profiles and devices as well as sufficient visibility and fleet control.
To address these challenges, a few companies such as Microsoft and Apple have incorporated solutions into Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms. However, this only provides a band-aid for the challenges enterprises face with eSIM technology.
Machine-to-Machine eSIM Standard
The M2M Standard targets Industrial M2M and IoT devices such as cars, water meters, trackers, smart factories and other components used in an industrial, non-end-user interactive environment.
Pros: The M2M eSIM Standard is also secure by design. It facilitates carrier migration and in theory offers remote centralized management and provisioning of carrier profiles. However, it isn’t as cut and dry as it seems.
Cons: M2M eSIM implementation is cumbersome, time intensive, and has long capital investment cycles. It requires collaboration between the enterprise, eSIM manufacturers, and the wireless carrier throughout the manufacturing process for implementation. Furthermore, while the standard provides centralized management and provisioning of carrier profiles, the enterprise doesn’t have control or flexibility over the management of carrier profiles.
The challenges with the M2M Standard are well known in the industry and the GSMA is working on finding solutions. Unfortunately, this will take some time. There are a few companies that are trying to orchestrate collaboration between carriers that will allow enterprise to have some flexibility in easily changing carriers. However, this is limited to second and third tier carriers that are willing to cooperate.
Webbing was founded with the objective to lead the evolution to sustainable global data connectivity with innovative, high-quality, and scalable technology. Reach out to learn more about Webbing’s innovative solutions for eSIM technology in the Enterprise and M2M space.