E-SIM Revolution

A Brief History of the SIM

Everything is constantly changing – the way we work, the way we communicate, and the way we manage information.

As much as mobile technology has evolved considerably over time – Smart phones, bonding solutions, and ever-increasing data demand – an integral part of this sector has remained relatively constant.

SIM cards have pretty much been the same since the 1980’s.

The very first mobile phone call in the UK was made 35 years ago between Chris Gent and Ernie Wise on the Vodafone network using a Motorola handset.

A new era had begun!

But the SIM inside the device was essentially just a larger version of what we still use today. The services we can assign at network level have changed – Fixed IP, M2M service, huge data allowances – but the SIM is still silicon coated in gold and submerged into a piece of plastic that connects to a single network, the plastic housing of the SIM has been reduced over time, but that’s pretty much it.

The only exception to this in recent years has been the Multi-Net SIM. Capable of holding more than one network profile but up until now only available as a data only connection – no voice. And it’s less versatile – working in fewer countries worldwide with no 5G facility.

Now the next step in the evolution of the SIM card has arrived…

Why do we need a SIM?

A SIM acts as an integrated circuit designed to securely store the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number and its related key. This information is used to identify and authenticate subscribers on mobile devices which gives the SIM access to a single network as standard, with SIM prefix’s being assigned to each – and not transferrable.

What is E-SIM?

E-SIM is the new SIM card form with additional features added. The technology has been available in some sectors for the last two years and is now being adopted by all manufacturers. It can be built into the device itself, as well as being available in the traditional form, and can move from one network to another to optimise performance and cost whilst retaining the flexibility to change this preference in the future.

Because E-SIM is remotely programmable network assignment can change without having to change the SIM card. This saves time, resource – and money. Having to replace a fleet of SIM cards across the business becomes a project quickly, requiring management and coordination – with E-SIM you just assign it to the network that has the best coverage in your area. Simple.

E-SIM is also to become the industry standard internationally set by the GSMA, the association representing mobile network operators worldwide. Meaning the E-SIM can travel across the globe – no changing SIM cards between countries.

Apple have been leading the charge in the consumer market by incorporating an embedded E-SIM chipset onto the motherboard of the latest iPhones as well as providing a standard SIM slot. This gives their consumers the option to utilise a conventional sim card, make use of the E-SIM technology, or use both and have diverse carriers on a single handset.

Many manufacturers are starting to standardise on embedded SIM technology now and whilst the consumer is adopting first, over time industrial solutions will be made widely available giving businesses the ability to manage vast numbers of devices from a single pane of glass.

Why is this better?

  • E-SIM is remotely programmable and can be assigned to any network with associated services over the air – working with NB-IoT, 2G, 3G, 4G, and now 5G, and there won’t be any need to manage these tiny pieces of plastic and swap them out every time something changes!
  • E-SIM is completely un-steered so can connect to whichever network has the strongest signal without bias.
  • E-SIM can access to over 450 networks in 190 countries worldwide.
  • E-SIM can have a Static IP assignment – permanently or temporarily, to enable remote access securely. When the works been done, it can be removed.
  • E-SIM data costs are lower than other SIM service variants. Value for money whilst retaining flexibility in service.
  • E-SIM has a 99.9% network SLA. Reliable connectivity in an easily manageable physical form.

Here at Opious we have a passion for new technology. And we love to talk about it. Let us know where you need to get to, and we’ll work with you to make sure you get there.