The Next Generation SIM and How It Works

Internet of Things providers who offer a ‘thing’ and a paired thing service will often deploy their globally delivered or traveling smart devices with a standard or “roaming-only” global SIM capability. With a roaming-only global SIM, data must originate and terminate from the network of the “home” mobile network operator. This is the mobile network operator whose network credentials are currently being used to connect to the foreign mobile network. As a result, data that is generated by a connected device can be routed across very long distances before it is consumed for use. This can result in poor user experience and high cost.

With the next generation SIM capability, the credentials of a mobile network operator in the country or region can be dynamically downloaded to the smart device allowing for data access in the local area providing for a lower latency and therefore improved user experience.

This iBASIS whitepaper on this topic will look at the characteristics of the Traditional, Standard SIM and of the Next Generation SIM and explain how they are different and the resulting benefits of the next generation of SIM technology.

Download the whitepaper here!

Enterprise Mobility: A New Age is Coming – Part I

Enterprise Mobility Today

Is texting via SMS becoming a thing of the past?

It seems that calling with our phones or messaging using SMS/MMS on our smartphones is becoming more and more of a rarity. Probably because in today’s world, we have access to a number of alternative mobile devices and applications that allow us to communicate with colleagues, family, and friends. These include devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops/2-In-1s and applications like WhatsApp, Viber, iMessage, or Jabber.

In order to use many of these devices and applications, staying connected is critical. At home or at work, WiFi is usually how we stay connected, while we rely on cellular connectivity whenever we travel outside these locations. However, in recent years, mobile WiFi (MiFi) dongles and stand-alone multi-device connectivity MiFi Hotspots have become available for connecting laptops, tablets and other devices to the mobile data network. We’ve also seen a rise in advances such as MiFi Hotspots built right into the latest 4G smartphones, laptops with SIM slots built in, and 4G enabled tablets.

Shifts to new Devices

Not surprisingly, with these advances, more and more “connected” devices are beginning to hit the market. These devices are making use of newly offered embedded cellular modules and embedded SIM (eSIM) technology to offer advanced mobile connectivity features while using less real estate on the device. As a result, we are seeing an increase in not just smartphones and tablets, but also in connected wearables hitting the market. Even more important is the fact that with eSIM technology, these wearables can access mobile data directly without having to be tethered to your smartphone!
According to P&S Market Research, the smartwatch market is expected to reach $43.8 billion by 2023, with the standalone (untethered) category projected to experience the highest growth during the forecast period. Smartwatches like the Samsung Gear S2, Huawei Watch 2 and the Apple Watch Series 3 are among the new connected smartwatches on the market that utilize eSIM technology for 4G/3G mobile data connectivity.
Similarly, some of the latest 2-In-1s, like the ASUS Transformer Mini T102HA and the Microsoft Surface Pro 2-in-1 with LTE Advanced, provide “anywhere” connectivity by including 4G/3G access with eSIM technology built-in. According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro 2-in-1 delivers 4G LTE connectivity around the world with support of 20 LTE bands.

Other shifts toward new devices include more niche wearable technology like smart glasses. Although they remain tethered for safety reasons, smart glasses like the Vuzix Blade and Intel Vaunt are seeing greater and greater use in the Enterprise environment in Augmented Reality (AR) applications.

Shifts to new Technologies

In addition to new devices, new technologies are emerging to enhance the usability of these devices. Going back to AR devices, one important example of shifts in technology is the gesture-based AR controls by companies like ManoMotion, Crunchfish and uSens. “We firmly believe that virtual reality and AR is the next form of the computer, the next generation of smart devices,” Dr. Yue Fei, the co-founder and chief technology officer of Bay Area human-computer interaction specialist uSens, told Digital Trends.

Although voice assistants are not entirely new, assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are getting more and more skills and are being continuously improved with artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

Even the default technology for voice calling and messaging applications are getting a facelift on Android smartphones. Android and Samsung Messages are planned to be in wide use by the summer of 2019 and is based on a standards based open voice and messaging service developed specifically for the mobile device industry.

Enterprise Mobility vs. Consumer Mobility

So what does this mean for the enterprise versus consumer markets?

Mobility devices and functionality for the Enterprise and Consumer markets do overlap to some degree based on the size of the organization and the communication applications they use. For example, very small businesses can have much in common with the consumer market if they do not specifically seek out a specialized Enterprise Mobility Provider (ranging from AT&T to Wavelink). However for larger enterprises, there are some distinct differences: specific business applications, team collaboration applications and web conferencing applications. Larger enterprises often require higher performance devices which support global connectivity (e.g. tablets, 2-in-1s and smartphones) much more than your typical consumer. Because of this, newer, higher-priced technologies are often introduced to enterprises first, before making their way to the Consumer market. As new technologies emerge, we will therefore see more enterprise specific devices that accelerate business productivity and intelligence (e.g. enterprise specific wearables and AI functions). Of course, when it comes to the commercial side of things, enterprises obviously want a single contract, a single bill, pooled data across their devices and a single provider for their global mobile service needs, regardless of their size.

We at iBasis envision employees of the next generation enterprise will perform business tasks using these emerging devices and technologies. iBasis Global Access for Things is helping a number of companies enable the next generation of enterprise mobility with a single source for mobile data access, globally. Stay tuned for part II of this series to see how we envision this future. Come join us for the journey!

eSIM Standardization Efforts

The GSMA Association and the eSIM
The GSM Association is a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide. Approximately 800 mobile operators are full GSMA members and a further 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem are associate members.  Starting 2014, GSMA had begun to work on an ecosystem related to embedded SIM (eSIM), or eUICC, to address mobile networks and market needs for connecting non-consumer, also referred to as M2M, devices to mobile networks for all sort of B2B applications, such as meter reading, connected cars, intelligent remote controlling, among others.

The Remote SIM Provisioning Initiative
It first came up with the Remote SIM Provisioning initiative and formed several working groups. The working groups focused on standardizing a suite of specifications to ensure the whole ecosystem, including eSIM vendors, device manufactures, mobile operators, and other related service providers, follow the same standards and unified framework for all related processes. This has helped the mobile industry to address more than 10 billion devices connecting to mobile networks by 2020, as predicted. By February 2016, the complete version of specifications were released. Since December 2015, it also has begun to work on similar specifications targeting consumer devices.

The Three Major Working Groups
There are three major working groups working the specifications. One group is called the RSP Task Force (RSPTF), consisting of major mobile operators and works on specifications served as requirements for both M2M and consumer devices. The RSPTF group has more than twenty major mobile operators actively contributing to the requirements. The specifications produced from RSPTF are SGP.01 and SGP.21.

Another group, called the RSP Technical (RSPTEC), is working on implementation specification based on the requirement specifications from RSPTF. RSPTEC is composed of eSIM vendors, OEMs, and all related service providers. iBasis is an active member of this group.

Finally, the third main group, called “RSP Certification and Compliance” (RSPCERT), is working on Security Accreditation Scheme, Test, and Profile Protection specifications.

For those of interested in the detail of all the specifications, the full array of documents can be found on the GSMA Public Website.

Solving The IoT Challenges of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are the owners of a key asset required to connect wide area high bandwidth Internet of Things (IoT) devices – the Mobile Network. In these still early days of the Internet of Things, many MNOs are developing their business plans on how to address the IoT opportunity, while others have been working on their plans and services for more than seven years. For all, the Internet of Things represents an opportunity and a challenge.

The Opportunity

MNOs have the opportunity to bring new revenue generating devices to their networks in multiple ways. Some have matured to the point of offering full IoT solutions such as vehicle solutions, asset management, and smarter cites, among others. Others have taken a different approach and offer web based ordering of IoT SIMs to allow developers and manufacturers to purchase mobile data access for their “things”. Still others will work with systems integrators and innovative access partners to bring IoT devices to their network. Regardless of the approach, if the Fourth Industrial Revolution has anything to say about it, one would expect all MNOs will have IoT devices on their network before long – at least the ones they know about!

The Challenge

Today, MNOs face many challenges both in allowing IoT devices of their roaming partners to roam on their network and in offering their own IoT services. To be sure, when MNOs allow IoT devices on their networks, they prefer to allow them on their own terms. Currently, this is not the case, and many MNOs have IoT devices roaming on their networks they don’t even know about.

Challenges with IoT Roaming Devices

Roaming agreements between mobile operators are negotiated based on the device profile for a consumer mobile handset. Since the device profile for an IoT device is very different, with most devices using very little data, the MNO is not sufficiently compensated for the device roaming on their network. To make matters worse, the device is usually a “globally deployed” device from an IoT manufacturer in a different region or country and the device is actually a “permanently roaming” device.
To solve this problem, MNOs would like to have partners that could at least identify the IMSI ranges of IoT devices entering their network and have agreements in place to be properly compensated for the network usage (e.g. when it is not in the form of data). As the next generation SIM technology, the embedded SIM (eSIM) or eUICC, gains wider use, MNOs could work with innovative access partners to easily identify IoT devices on their network and have the correct agreements in place to be compensated for them. With such a solution, MNOs will have better control over IoT devices entering their networks and prevent those devices from permanently roaming.

MNO Challenges in offering their own IoT Services

When offering or considering offering their own IoT services, MNOs have a different set of challenges:

• Providing proper coverage assurance
• Roaming bill shock when sending traffic to roaming partners
• Inability to guarantee connectivity and user experience of traffic from a partner network
• Competition for the same customer (the IoT Service Provider)

While some IoT devices only communicate sporadically (e.g. luggage tracker), others may send significant amounts of data frequently (e.g. video surveillance drone, connected car). When relying completely on roaming agreements for devices that leave an MNO’s network, it may be difficult to assure the necessary cost, coverage technology (3G or 4G) or application/user experience most suitable for a particular IoT device. Using eSIM and next generation network selection technology, a local network can be selected according to the cost, network coverage and quality required by a particular device – functionality that is not available in traditional steering of roaming solutions. Providing high quality mobile data access for their customers globally deployed or travelling “things”, will allow MNOs to compete for, and retain, IoT Service Provider customers.