The value of a standardised eUICC for M2M deployments

Gil Bernabeu, technical director of GlobalPlatform

When we think about mobile, it’s natural to think about phones. But in fact by 2020, it is projected that handsets will account for only 72% of mobile connections. Instead, growth will come from connected M2M devices.

Unlike mobile handsets, many of these devices may be hard if not impossible to physically access. That means that changing removable SIMs, if the device owner wants to update the service or change carrier, can provide a real or even insurmountable challenge, says Gil Bernabeu, technical director of GlobalPlatform.

To meet this challenge mobile network operators (MNOs), supported by GlobalPlatform, are promoting the concept of the embedded UICC. The eUICC never needs to be removed or replaced. Instead, new operator profiles are simply downloaded ‘over the air’ when required.

The benefits are significant for all involved players.

For deploying organisations, connectivity management is more flexible and cost effective. Remote service activation allows the up-sell of new connected options at any point after the initial sale. As a result, new business opportunities and deployment models open up.

For the consumer end user, where there is one, this means they can access new services quickly and easily. Connected products are likely to be cheaper because there is no manual service component to cost in and on top of that, products work right out of the box.

Manufacturers benefit too. Product reliability and lifespan improves as devices can be sealed. The operator subscription can be chosen at first switch on after installation and easily changed afterwards. Product distribution and stock keeping as a result becomes simpler too.

Of course MNOs will see new market opportunities open up as their costs in handling M2M SIM products go down. Security stays high while integration and testing costs drop and the impact on systems and the network infrastructure is minimised.

Even SIM manufacturers win too. By providing embedded SIM infrastructure and services on a mass market basis, they see new market opportunities open, while adding to their product range.

This shift is being promoted by the mobile operators’ industry body the GSMA. However, the benefits of this approach can only be truly realised if they are carried out in a common and standardised way.

This is why GlobalPlatform is working closely with the GSMA to support the GSMA Embedded SIM Specification which is designed to provide a de facto standard for the remote provisioning of machine-to-machine (M2M) devices. The specification enables the provisioning of operator subscriptions to be carried out over the air for devices that are located in difficult or remote locations. This will accelerate the expansion of the M2M market and increase opportunities for operators and M2M customers by reducing operational costs, and improving flexibility and efficiency, through economies of scale.

GlobalPlatform is working closely with the GSMA to establish the compliance infrastructure needed to qualify test tools and laboratories, and manage the registration and qualification of eUICC products. Industry players – such as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and MNOs – can now visit the GlobalPlatform website to source:

  • Tools to test eUICC products during development or prior to deployment;
  • Laboratories across a number of regions worldwide available to perform formal approval testing;
  • Products that have received GlobalPlatform qualification.

We believe that this is an important milestone in eUICC compliance. Multiple OEMs and eUICC providers need to collaborate to make M2M technology successful and the compliance program is the basis for that cooperation. Additionally, the M2M ecosystem needs a strong foundation for eUICC technology and this is what the GSMA’s specification delivers. A core objective of our collaboration with the GSMA is to promote interoperability, stability and flexibility within the M2M ecosystem. Now that multiple test tools and a global network of laboratories are in place, we are in a strong position to qualify products on behalf of the GSMA in the very near future.

The author of this blog is Gil Bernabeu, Technical Director of GlobalPlatform

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