What is an eSIM?
We all know what a SIM card is; that ever-shrinking card you pop into your phone in order to connect to your mobile network. But what is an eSIM? They are already featured in hundreds of consumer devices, including the iPhone 13, and by 2025 1 in 3 mobile devices will have one. While eSIMs have already entered the consumer market, they are set to transform the enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) industry.
The e stands for embedded, and that’s because that’s exactly what it is; the circuitry of a SIM card embedded into a device by being soldered to the motherboard. They’re also remotely reprogrammable, meaning new settings can be downloaded whenever required, as well as being much smaller than a standard SIM card, negating the need for a SIM tray and offering more space in the device for other features.
eSIMs were developed by players in the IoT industry; their small size makes them ideal for things like sensors and trackers, while their reprogrammable nature means they can be managed in bulk. If data plans change, for example, new profiles can be downloaded en masse via a simple command. Not only does this make devices future-proof, it also removes the necessity of physically replacing old SIMs, greatly reducing labor/travel costs.
How does an eSIM work in a practical sense?
On a consumer level, eSIMs could potentially eliminate roaming charges when traveling abroad. You could simply download the appropriate network profile for the country you are visiting, then switch back to your home network when you get home. Even if you don’t leave the country, you could switch operators quickly if you find yourself in an area with no network coverage.
It is the commercial applications of eSIM, however, that are most exciting and impactful. In the logistics sector for example, it’s essential to know the exact location of goods or vehicles in real-time. With eSIM technology, assets can be tracked across the world and expensive roaming contracts can be avoided with service providers able to change network profiles as needed from their management console. This greatly simplifies logistics and lowers tracking costs.
In the automotive sector, emergency call systems have been mandatory in new cars in Europe since 2018, with a similar system in the USA. The multiple network profiles required, one for the specific emergency call system and the other for the owner’s private cellular service, make the case for eSIM to be used. Reselling a car provides no obstacle for the eSIM, which can be remotely updated.
The massive scale of modern farming operations is often too much for many current wireless connectivity options. With farms spread across multiple states and countries, eSIM technology enables operators to manage their network profiles easily and remotely, while also providing the ability to track equipment and livestock.
In every example listed above, the need for service calls to remote devices for repair, maintenance, or manually changing a SIM card is completely removed. Sharath Muddaiah, Director of 5G and IoT at Giesecke+Devrient (G+D), believes that “a manual change of SIMs in a private network will be a thing of the past. Can you imagine getting on a remote oil rig and changing SIM cards once these have been deployed?”
One of the most relevant business cases for eSIMs is that they present a much greener alternative to traditional SIM cards. While traditional SIM cards are getting smaller and smaller, they are still housed and shipped in a credit card sized piece of plastic, which is then thrown away.
As eSIMs are built into the device, there is no longer any need to produce the plastic for both the card and its frame, greatly reducing the carbon footprint and reducing the amount of plastic waste. Furthermore, replacement SIMs are no longer needed, as new profiles can simply be downloaded remotely.
If that wasn’t enough, eSIMs also greatly reduce the logistic footprint by reducing the amount of air travel. Plastic SIM cards currently rely on a complex supply chain with air deliveries across the globe. In comparison, the physical logistics of eSIM are tiny; the eSIM is delivered within the device, negating the need for extra deliveries. On top of this, there is no longer any need for extra packaging for the SIM card.
Advantages of eSIM over normal SIMs
- eSIMs can store multiple cellular profiles, which can be managed remotely. This future-proofs devices and avoids the need to physically swap out SIM cards in the field.
- eSIMs present a much greener option, as the need for plastic use is greatly reduced and they do not rely on a complex global supply chain.
- eSIMs are a lot smaller, allowing more space for things like larger batteries or giving small devices that previously couldn’t house a SIM card the chance to enjoy cellular connectivity, opening up the possibility for more IoT applications which were previously unfeasible.
Giesecke+Devrient: inventors of the SIM and leaders in eSIM management
At Pod Group, we are lucky to have the technical know-how of eSIM market leaders Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) supporting us. G+D invented and commercialized the first SIM card in 1991 and developed eSIM management tools about 10 years ago. With 250 eSIM customer systems worldwide, they are the #1 for eSIM management.
Using their eSIM technology, we have been able to establish ourselves as the World’s First Enterprise Network Operator (ENO), helping businesses to take ownership of their IoT network. G+D’s eSIM technology powers Pod Group’s ENO ONE SIM, which is ideal for all global remote or roaming enterprise IoT applications in a wide range of sectors such as fleet monitoring, supply chain, energy and manufacturing.
With eSIM offering an eco-friendly and 5G-ready solution to global connectivity, it is clear it will be here for many years to come, with enterprises as well as consumers able to enjoy the benefits it brings. And even if your hardware/devices don’t currently support eSIM, ENO ONE can help you with the transition.
How? ENO ONE can be used as a normal SIM, until your hardware has been upgraded to support eSIM, at which point you can switch to eSIM functionality. Powered by G+D’s green eSIM technology, Pod’s ENO ONE SIM is the enterprise choice for greener, flexible and scalable connectivity of tomorrow, today.