How Embedded SIMs Disrupt IoT & Smartphone Supply Chains

60-second Intro

In recent news embedded SIMs are starting to seriously disrupt the IoT & smartphone supply chains. Read on in the following article to learn more and how this will effect Australian consumers.

  • The eSIM or Electronic SIM will change the way in which Aussie consumers will be able to switch providers, with only a moment of effort required.
  • Both device manufacturers Apple and Samsung are pioneering the way, when it comes to e-SIM technology.
  • GSMA is working on the final eSIM version, which will allow provisioning to be conducted over the air.

The modern e-SIM card

For business travellers and families alike, using our local Aussie SIM cards and smartphones overseas can be expensive.

We need to let our service providers know that we are intending to use our SIM in an international country.

Roaming is them enabled on our smartphone or tablet devices SIM and this is where things become expensive.

With the exception of travelling to neighbouring New Zealand and being on a Vodafone Australia free roaming deal.

For the rest of us which are not with Vodafone, or are heading to a different international location, will have to put up with high fees.

Making and receiving calls and texting come with high fees, even on the great value prepaid plans available.

But with the advancements in e-SIM technology, a new way of using the traditional SIM card is fast approaching.

Thanks to next generation device manufacturers, Apple and Samsung, e-SIM technology has arrived.

In the latest versions of the Apple iPad and the Samsung Gear smart watch.

E-SIM functionality allows us to not worry about using a physical SIM card, instead using the built in app to enter in our providers details.

At WhatPhone we believe it won’t be that long, until both Apple and Samsung introduce e-SIMs to their smartphones.

Google and their Nexus smartphone latest model, already support e-SIM functionality.

In the very near future if we want to switch provider, all we will need to do is scan a simple QR code.

Or, manually enter the details into the smartphone or tablet device App, which will offer a selection of providers in the country which we are currently in.

Flying into new a country will be a breeze, without needing to waste time grabbing an airport SIM card.

This slow and time wasting activation process will be avoided, thanks to soft SIM technology.

M2M and e-SIM technologies

E-SIMs have been around for a few years now, especially in the M2M (Machine-to-Machine) industries.

It’s only been a recent development, that this technology has been ported to smartphone and tablet devices.

Large global companies such as Amazon, have long used e-SIM technology in their Kindle tablets and readers.

Allowing content to be downloaded to the devices wirelessly, over the local networks.

Tech giant Apple has been using their own proprietary e-SIM, known as the Apple SIM.

These Apple SIMs can be found in their manufactured iPad tablet devices.

3G enabled iPad versions such as the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro models, feature the soft SIM technology.

Travelling abroad can be made that much simpler, all by selecting which international roaming partner inside the device.

At the recent MWC (Mobile World Congress) event in Barcelona, GSMA and the mobile industry association, discussed the e-SIM.

The final release of the GSMA e-SIM specification was announced to the forum attendees.

Similar in design to previous versions, this final design is integrated directly into the main primary circuit.

This means that M2M platforms, smartphones, tablets and wearable smart watches will all use this technology.

Manufacturers and GSMA working together

One interesting fact to point out is that this final e-SIM version, will be shipped with no initial credentials.

Instead, these can be provisioned over the air, once the device featuring the e-SIM technology is activated.

Leading manufacturers are working closely with GSMA to implement this final e-SIM version, into their future devices.

One of the first devices available using the new e-SIM specification, is the Samsung Gear S2 smart watch.

This smart wrist watch, uses the e-SIM tech, to provide users with full wireless network connectivity.

Rather than using the traditional SIM cards, which take up too much internal device space.

By keeping internal device components down in size, manufacturers can continue to produce slim and compact devices.

Provisioning is in the final stages of testing

As the e-SIM OTA provisioning is still currently going through its final testing stages.

The 3G and 4G Samsung Gear S2 smart watch versions are only available locked in, to a supported carrier.

Later on down the road, once e-SIM wireless provisioning is more readily available, this will be sure to change.

Allowing users to change carriers at their choosing, or switch to a different provider once their existing contracts expire.

Recent studies have been reported, that industry analysts are forecasting worldwide shipments of wearable devices, to surpass 200 million by 2019.

With the addition of e-SIM technologies to smartwatches, it’s easy to see how this predicted number is fairly accurate.

E-SIM technology will make changing service providers a simple and painless task.

Gone will be the days of using the traditional method of porting your number to a new provider.

But that’s not all, e-SIM technology will allow the possibility of sharing the same number, across multiple devices.

The possibilities don’t just stop at smartphones, tablets and smartwatches.

With the importance of the IoT and the way in which we all are living in a connected 24/7 world.

In Conclusion

From all the news directly from manufacturers and GSMA themselves, it’s quite clear that e-SIMs are here to stay.

While the national carriers might not be happy about the changes to traditional SIMs, they still need to listen to their subscribers.

For consumers e-SIM technology is a clear benefit to lives, the ability to switch effortlessly to a new provider in seconds is a big deal.

Embedded SIM functionality will also effect the way in which M2M devices connect and communicate.

With the power of choice back in consumers hands, contracts and plans will need to be even more attractive to limit customer churn.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.