Articles

Simplifying eSIM rollouts for IoT projects

Strategic Business Development Director

Traditionally, IoT device operators and owners have had to change SIM cards to switch network provider. Ultimately, cards are locked into mobile network operators (MNOs) and that makes it difficult to swap networks for commercial reasons or to address operational challenges.

It might be possible to make the switch if only a few cards are involved, but when it is thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or they are in devices in remote locations or around the world, it is much more of a challenge.

Consequently, businesses aren’t benefiting from the commercial opportunities and operational benefits they could get if they were able to switch network profiles seamlessly. This is where eSIMs come in. For the right business, these solutions are a game changer because they introduce the ability to switch network provider without changing out the physical SIM card.

Future proof cellular connectivity

It could be said that cellular connectivity has outgrown traditional SIM cards, because of the IoT. Many deployments, including those in oil and gas, manufacturing, and warehousing, operate on an extremely large scale. Then there are SIMs that are housed in difficult to reach locations such as inside car dashboards, payment terminals, vending machines, water stations and e-scooters. The fixed nature of SIM cards to designated MNOs mean these, and other deployments, lack the flexibility to change network provider without considerable inconvenience and cost.

In contrast, eSIMs aren’t locked-in to single vendors and (with the right service provider) can be provisioned over-the-air (OTA). Profiles can be switched for commercial, technical, regulatory or locational reasons, without physically changing cards. This is particularly beneficial for IoT devices deployed in the field for multiple years, as well as those that are manufactured in one country and used across many others. It has the potential to future proof IoT deployments over time and from change of ownership.

Streamlining the supply chain

It is true that SIM cards do already facilitate access to other networks in other countries through roaming but that is controlled by the MNO. The business cannot choose which network to connect to and they may incur roaming charges at a premium – especially for IoT applications that use significant amounts of data across multiple regions.

eSIMs can be reprogrammed remotely to pick up local networks at local rates to assist in minimising the total cost of ownership. This could be when the device is first deployed or even years later when new commercial options, or new operators, come onto the market.

However, eSIM benefits are not confined to potential usage cost savings. There is the potential for major logistical benefits too.

eSIMs can store multiple profiles which can be pre-loaded during production or downloaded OTA. This means that during the manufacturing process of a device, a single SIM can be embedded so that it connects and downloads a local network in virtually any country across the world. Manufacturers can therefore minimise the number of product stock keeping units (SKUs) required vs traditional SIMs.  When a device ‘wakes up’ in a particular country, the remote SIM provisioning rules engine is able to identify the location and download (push or pull) the designated profile for that country. This simplifies production and distribution and saves on logistics, manufacturing and inventory costs, which can be significant.

Tackling regulatory challenges

eSIMs have the potential to open up new markets for the IoT. The limitations of traditional SIM cards may have ruled out some complex, particularly global, deployments. With the additional freedom afforded by eSIMs, these may become available.

Device makers may serve additional markets and companies may feel more able to commit to deployments that were previously considered too risky due to network sunsetting, data sovereignty or regulatory challenges in specific regions. Good examples of this are Turkey and Brazil, where permanent roaming is currently restricted by government policy. Being able to download a local MNO profile for devices deployed to these countries goes a long way to addressing these challenges.

 

Choosing the right eSIM ecosystem

eSIMs have great promise but it’s important to remember that the ecosystem is still developing. There are complex inter-dependencies to be managed between the hardware (the SIM and cellular module), the network services (i.e. data and SMS), the Remote SIM Provisioning servers and with sourcing eSIM profiles from MNOs. In addition to this, not all MNO’s make their profiles widely available, and so navigating profile changes independently can be tricky. This can involve selecting and contracting with a new operator and managing changes to serial (integrated circuit card identification – ICCID) numbers and IP addresses.

When deciding on a service provider, it’s important to validate their level of expertise and influence – larger providers interact with MNOs regularly and will therefore have leverage when it comes to access to operator profiles.

Wireless Logic eSIM

With over 1m eSIMs deployed across the globe, Wireless Logic’s established eSIM eco-system and long-term trusted partner status with MNOs places it as a global leader in eSIM.

Wireless Logic can help by explaining in further detail the comparative benefits of eSIMs and how they may benefit your business, guiding you to the best option to suit your use case. Combining our GSMA-compliant eSIM with remote SIM provisioning and our global mobile network, Wireless Logic provides an advanced digitalised connectivity solution for enterprises, device manufacturers and chipset vendors.

Our expert solution consultants can validate that device hardware is compatible with the eSIM solution and advise on operational issues. These can range from updating SIM identifiers to APN/VPN inter-connects through to retry policies which might be needed if profile downloads fail because devices are offline or in sleep mode. Wireless Logic has the experience and the platform capabilities to steer you through these processes.

With eSIM technicalities, solution design and operator relationships taken care of, your organisation can focus on its core business, safe in the knowledge that connectivity is resilient, efficient and future proof.

 For more information, take a look at flexible and future-proof global connectivity through our eSIM solutions. To find out how we can help, contact us to discuss.

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