Advancing the era of eSIM: Unveiling the IoT specification

Advancing the era of eSIM: Unveiling the IoT specification Stephane is the head of product management within IDEMIA’s Digital Solutions Unit and is responsible for building and executing the product roadmaps for the company’s connectivity domain.

The journey towards integrating eSIM into IoT applications hasn’t been straightforward. Although the M2M specification for eSIM has been available for years, its adoption has primarily been limited to specific industries like automotive and utilities. According to Kaleido Intelligence, the number of active eSIMs used for IoT connectivity only surpassed 100 million in 2022, six years after the publication of the M2M specification.

Streamlining eSIM implementation

Challenges associated with the M2M eSIM specification lie in both technical implementation and communication protocols mandated within the specification. This has resulted in difficulties in expanding interconnections and integrations between connectivity service providers, while also hindering constrained devices from leveraging eSIM without customized solutions.

The eSIM IoT specification aims to address these challenges by lowering technical barriers and broadening the ecosystem to encompass all cellular-enabled devices in IoT. It includes expanded support for communication protocols such as LwM2M (Lightweight M2M) or MQTT, facilitating efficient communication for battery- or power-constrained devices. Simplifications in infrastructure architecture enable the new management entity on the eSIM, the IoT Profile Assistant (IPA), to connect to Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) infrastructure via standard API interfaces, eliminating the technical complexities present in the M2M specification.

Implications for the ecosystem

The development of the eSIM IoT specification marks a significant advancement in eSIM technology, offering promising opportunities for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). MNOs can repurpose existing investments made for eSIM use cases in consumer devices to support eSIM IoT connectivity, leveraging infrastructure like the SM-DP+ and existing BSS integrations for both consumer and IoT use cases. This increased market participation enhances market choice for eSIM customers and boosts overall market demand.

For OEMs, greater MNO engagement with eSIM for IoT applications means simplified partner selection for connectivity, easing international scaling and focusing on project commercialization. Importantly, eSIM becomes a flexible, long-term solution for all IoT devices, including those with NB-IoT or LTE-M radios.

Looking ahead

With the introduction of the eSIM IoT specification, demand for the technology is expected to soar. Kaleido Intelligence predicts a more than tenfold increase in active eSIM connections by 2028, with substantial growth in eSIM connectivity for smartphones as well. As the eSIM ecosystem expands, system availability and security become critical considerations. It’s important to note that neither demand nor support for the M2M specification will disappear in an instant: many organizations will require management solutions for eSIM devices across consumer, M2M and IoT specifications. How this is addressed is crucial to consider, given the potential complexity that can emerge there.

For a deeper dive into the topics discussed in this article, download the complimentary whitepaper “Unlocking MNO and OEM Opportunities with the eSIM IoT Specification.


(Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by IDEMIA)

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