While eSIM technology is just starting to become available in smartphones, it has been powering the Internet of Things for years. Learn why eSIMs have become the industry standard for IoT connectivity in transportation, healthcare, utilities, and others.
What is an eSIM?
The acronym SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module – it’s the hardware component that connects a piece of hardware, like a phone or a pet tracker, to a cellular network. Traditional SIM cards must be physically swapped out in order for the device to switch carrier networks.
SIMs come in many form factors for a wide variety of applications and devices. eSIM stands for “embedded SIM,” a type that’s built into the device itself. Unlike standard SIM cards, which are interchangeable, eSIMs can’t be removed.
In the past, removable SIMs were the only option. However, new technology has been introduced (specifically, eUICC) that allows carriers to be managed remotely, which makes global IoT deployments more scalable and efficient. eSIMs with software-based eUICC solutions allow over-the-air carrier swaps wherever the device may be.
Advantages of eSIMs for IoT
eSIMs present a few key benefits over traditional SIMs, which include:
- Smaller, more rugged devices. Since eSIMs aren’t removable, they take up less space, contributing to overall smaller device sizes. Since there’s no need for an external slot, the device casing may be made more durable.
- Remote management for easy scalability. Massive M2M deployments may include a huge number of devices all over the world. Remote carrier switching eliminates the need to be in the same location to manage or troubleshoot an individual device’s connectivity.
- Better security. With standard SIM cards, someone can easily swap out the SIM in a lost or stolen device with one of their own. Not only does this remove the device from the network, it gives the intruder access to sensitive information. Built-in eSIMs offer better protection against loss, theft and data breaches.
How are eSIMs used now?
While eSIMs will eventually replace standard SIMs in consumer products like watches and phones, they are the go-to solution for cellular M2M/IoT applications.
In terms of current active eSIM connections, the automotive industry leads the pack in both volume and revenue. Since eSIMs can swap networks automatically, they’re the ideal choice for uses where the devices must pass through borders and coverage zones. For example:
- Smart cars: OEMs use eSIMs to add connected services to automobiles, or to meet regulatory safety requirements, such as the European Union’s mandate on eCall facility.
- Vehicle tracking: Vehicle tracking companies use eSIMs to track fleets over borders and coverage areas.
- Dash cams and other devices: Aftermarket auto accessories such as the Compass Asset Protection Dash Cam add connected services to cars; Classic Tracker uses vehicle tracking to protect against loss and theft.
What are other applications for eSIMs?
Outside of the automotive and transportation industries, eSIMs help accomplish 24/7 tracking functions in asset tracking, healthcare, utilities, and other sectors.
- In healthcare, eSIMs are utilised in remote patient tracking devices, which facilitate the sharing of a patient’s real-time health data with their medical team.
- Utility companies are adopting eSIMs for use in smart power meters and solar panels.
- Point-of-sale devices use eSIMs to process payments and generate data on customer information and retail insights.
eSIMs technology is widespread and chances are, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. The global revenue generated from the eSIM market is projected to multiply several times over in the next few years.
What role do eSIMs play in IoT deployments?
eSIMS are just one step on the path to a successful IoT deployment, as the piece of hardware that facilitates the connection between an individual device and the larger network. Full IoT deployments also need software, a user interface, and network connectivity.
When deciding whether or not an eSIM is right for your project, you’ll also have to consider which networks it can switch between and where they’re supported. The supported networks will depend on the location, the type of eSIM, and which roaming relationships exist between the SIM provider and carriers.
You’ll also have to choose a solution with an IoT platform that supports your service goals and customer needs. If you’re considering an eSIM, you’re likely considering a use case where the devices cross coverage areas fairly often. In that case, an IoT connectivity platform could be a good choice for your business.
Get started with eSIMs
Want to learn more about powering your next IoT project with eSIMs? JT IoT is your partner for flexible, scalable IoT solutions like eSIM Connect, which helps you harness the full flexibility of eSIMs.
Contact us to ask questions or request a free starter kit.