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Why eSIM is crucial for managing IoT

Nurdianah Md Nur | Aug. 16, 2017
Unlike traditional SIM cards, eSIM enables remote management and maintenance of connected devices. How does it do it?

connected cities
Credit: GraphicStock

While there is a lot of talk about the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT), there isn't as much focus on how to manage connected devices. As many connected devices are built to last longer than consumer products and may be affixed to places that are hard to reach (eg. connected speed cameras), how can we remotely manage and maintain such devices without having to physically configure their connectivity settings?

Embedded SIM (eSIM) cards is one way of doing so, Sashidhar Thothadri, senior vice president, Mobile Services & IoT, Asia and Japan, Gemalto, told CIO Asia.

This is because eSIM cards enable device owners to easily switch mobile network operators (MNOs) as and when required. "Every MNO has a different profile that can be downloaded to the eSIM over the air by scanning a unique QR code from the MNO. The eSIM card contains the contract details of the consumer and determines the connectivity provisioned for the device. Device owners can thus switch MNOs or change contracts using over-the-air interface instead of having to physically remove the connected device's SIM card," Thothadri explained.

Besides that, eSIM cards are more rugged than traditional SIM cards. "They can withstand vibrations of machines and cars, extreme temperatures, dust, and humidity, as well as retain integrity from physical attacks such as probes and x-rays," Thothadri said. As such, eSIM cards would work well even for connected vehicles, and IoT devices that are stationed outdoors like smart meters.

In addition, eSIM cards lower the cost of connected devices. Thothadri said: "Traditionally, SIM cards and devices are shipped separately, generating high logistical costs. With eSIM cards, device makers can ship them together at once, and the MNOs or end-users can handle the data provisioning and personalisation later on."

Aside from IoT device makers and connected vehicle manufacturers, telcos are showing a lot of interest in eSIM cards. "Many telcos globally have their eyes on the lucrative IoT and connected cars market. By adopting eSIMs and remote provisioning technology, these telcos have a head-start to occupy these emerging markets before their competitors cotton on," Thothadri shared.

He added: "For example, KDDI in Japan adopted eSIMs and the remote provisioning platform from Gemalto last year for connected cars. China Telecom is also utilising Gemalto's subscription management platform for mobile devices and connected cars. This move allows the telcos' automotive customers to offer instant connectivity for connected cars anytime and anywhere." 


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