In part 1 of this blog post, I looked at how the conventional physical SIM, as we know, is living on borrowed time and the use of embedded SIMs (eSIM) and Soft SIMs are starting to gather pace. These technologies break down geographical barriers when it comes to mobile connectivity between different countries, and open the door to new form factors. Next, billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be connected worldwide – and just like when people travel from country to country – eSIMs and Soft SIMs will play a central role in how quickly and seamlessly all those things connect too.
The challenge for IoT device manufacturers is that the standard method of soldering or inserting IoT SIMs by hand into devices is time-consuming and expensive. eSIMs enable device manufacturers to not only embed connectivity into anything without a physical chip but to also re-programme SIMs over the air (OTA) for millions of devices simultaneously.
Imagine a global steel plant, where all workers wear an IoT-enabled activity tracker type bracelet to monitor key variables such as air quality and heart rate to help ensure their health and safety in tough conditions. Being able to re-programme eSIMs inside all the wearable devices OTA simplifies their management and helps to make global IoT deployment more practical and affordable.
Another example is a logistics business with hundreds of vehicles in its fleet, with each vehicle equipped with IoT-enabled sensors collecting huge amounts of telemetry data every day. The challenge for the company is how to harness the full power of all this data for maximum insights and efficiencies, without breaking the bank due to roaming charges as its vehicles cross from one country to the next. eSIMs and Soft SIMs can help slash roaming costs in this scenario by automatically switching mobile networks, or re-programming the SIM OTA with a new profile to ensure best rates and coverage. It doesn’t stop there though – an eSIM-enabled managed service can also include other value-add services for logistics such as localisation, scheduling, asset management, temperature sensing, video monitoring and vehicle diagnostics – all integrated with the core supply chain management systems of the business.
One company reaping the rewards of eSIMs and re-programming OTA is Links Field Networks, an IoT connectivity provider for a range of different industries. We’re working with the company to enable it to quickly and easily download its eSIM profile OTA onto thousands of its customers’ devices. With Tata Communications MOVE™ embedded at the chipset level, Links Field IoT devices don’t need a physical SIM – any device can simply be switched on in any country, and it will be instantly connected, with the local MNO profile loaded onto it OTA. Tata Communications MOVE™ also gives Links Field and its customers complete visibility over data usage patterns and tariffs through an API-rich, fully automated environment.
Adapt and thrive
As eSIMs and Soft SIMs start to become mainstream, we may well see a shift in the competitive landscape for not just MNOs but for the whole mobile ecosystem. New device form factors and IoT applications will emerge, and businesses will be able to unleash the full potential of truly global mobile and IoT services.
So, rather than the end of an era, these new SIM technologies should be considered as a new beginning – one that gives all businesses in the mobile world the chance to renew and reinvigorate what they bring to the sector today and tomorrow. This evolution will favour those who are ready, willing and able to adapt and become more agile in response to new competitive pressures and opportunities.
Read my previous blog on innovations in eSim technology here.