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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About eSIM (But Were Afraid to Ask)

News 20/10/2020

Kari Mattson, January 21, 2020

What is this eSIM thingy, anyway?

Pretty soon you may not need a SIM card in your phone as growing array of connected devices will connect to mobile using embedded SIM (eSIM) technology. eSIM is a global specification which involves aSIM card chip being embedded into a device.

eSIM technology has been around for some time, but only its adoption by Apple in late generation iPhones brought it to the public consciousness. 

One of the main advantages of eSIM is that it enables users to change operator remotely without having to acquire a new physicalSIM card – this can augur an even fiercer competition among operators and new usage modes. Theoretically, a phone using an eSIM could negotiate the rates with available operators on a call-by-call basis to get the absolute best prices.

More practically, eSIM also allows people to store multiple profiles on a single device, effectively having two or more numbers, and switch between them at ease. This is ideal for anyone who may require an additional number for travel or business, for example.

As an increasing number of devices offer eSIM technology, we are likely to see more mobile operators offering support for the service, particularly as it gives them an opportunity to up and cross-sell new service plans to their customers across the consumer and enterprise markets

But wait, that is not all…

While eSIMs can change phone usage quite abit, the technology will not just be used in smartphones. 

eSIMs will be seen in many consumer devices which require always-on connectivity. This includes wearables, such as smartwatches and smart glasses, connected home devices, and computing devices such as laptops and tablets. Technology which has traditionally connected to Wi-Fi will benefit from the wider availability and security of cellular (4G and5G) networks.

One of the first consumer devices to feature eSIM is the 4th generation Apple iWatch which is cellular capable, enabling many new use cases. The iconic Dick Tracy wrist phone is starting to be reality, thanks to eSIM.

The many benefits of eSIM

Consumers, businesses, and benefits can will all benefit from eSIM.

As eSIM enables subscribers to connect more devices to their mobile operator, operators can offer multi-device packages and bespoke data plans. 

Device bundling will b­ecome much easier, with consumers able to conveniently add new devices to their plans without having togo in store or wait for a physical SIM card to arrive in the post. This presents new revenue opportunities for operators, as it becomes easier for customers to scale up their plans by adding new devices which require data.

Businesses with a large number of mobiles used by their employees will also benefit from the convenience of eSIM. eSIM can deliver a streamlined user experience for managing cellular connectivity, enabling IT teams to provision and deploy new devices in a rapid and convenient fashion. Adding new phones to a corporate mobile service or swapping devices between users as they join and leave a company will become much more efficient, as it can be achieved remotely. Profiles for each user can also be personalized and data plans can be adjusted and optimized, via eSIM remote management tools.

Don’t forget IoT

eSIM will also benefit businesses that use IoT systems, and in particular businesses that have large m2m (machine-to-machine)deployments such as oil and gas, power plants, manufacturing facilities and warehouses. For a company using thousands of individual pieces of hardware that require mobile connectivity, installing a SIM card into each unit would be a painstaking (and expensive) task.

With eSIM, businesses can remotely connect all of this technology to a mobile network. Furthermore, if the technology is required to operate in another country, it can be programmed remotely to connect to a local operator in that region.

Because it is embedded, an eSIM uses less space and is cheaper than traditional SIM technology: mobile connectivity can now be introduced into hardware where it was previously not feasible due to cost or space restrictions.

Finally, as with the consumer market, operators can create new data plans for businesses as their connectivity requirements scale up. This could include new packages for previously unconnected devices, such as connected cars or iPads, naturally resulting in new revenue streams.

Making it a reality

While eSIM offers some exciting possibilities, its adoption is still in its infancy. Both manufacturers and operators must step up their game to drive the adoption of eSIM technology.

Technology manufacturers must support the new technology and make it available in their products. On this front, things are developing: analysts suggest all new smartphone devices will support eSIM by2030, and other types of connected technology will likely follow suit.

Operators play a crucial role. They must support the technology on their networks, create innovative new services, and provide a smooth experience for business and consumer customers looking to adopt the services. 

Operators need to create a smooth experience for onboarding customers using eSIM, via an online portal or application. Bespoke applications can be developed specifically for enterprise customers, whilst consumers can be served through operator portals.

For this customer experience to be seamless, operators must ensure that their eSIM technology is compatible with different handset manufactures and eSIM vendors and ensure they can support multiple download and activation methods.

To achieve this, operators must evolve their billing support systems and have an entitlement platform which will empower them with advanced eSIM management capabilities. This will ensure that they can make it as easy as possible for users to adopt eSIM technology, which will help drive new uses cases for it across the consumer and enterprise markets.

Trivore and eSIM

Our Trivore Device Entitlement Service (or DES among friends), is a carrier-grade solution for mobile device manufacturers and mobile operators to activate and provision cloud, on-premise, and embedded software applications from a single platform.

DES provides full support for eSIM and lets operators and manufacturers take advantage of this new technology easily and inexpensively. Just like other Trivore products, DES features a modern web-based GUI, open APIs, a powerful SDK for client development, and built-in identity management functionality.