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!

Explosive IoT Growth – is it Hype or Reality?

Over the last decade we have heard numerous reports of future explosive growth of Internet of things devices but there has been small and fragmented adoption at home or business.  Is this just being over hyped?  Let’s discuss if we are truly in a hype bubble or will IoT deliver real growth and revenue for mobile operators.

The Ericsson Mobility report states that in 2017 there are already 7.7 billion IoT devices in total but only 700,000 of them are connected to cellular networks.  These non-cellular IoT devices are locally connected using technologies like Ethernet, RFID, Bluetooth, Zig Bee or Wi-Fi.    So there has been explosive growth overall in IoT but mobile operators have not benefited from this growth.

Ericsson estimates that only 10% of the devices connected to mobile networks are IoT devices and the rest of the Mobile phones, Tablets and laptops.   So the first wave of IoT growth has mostly bypassed mobile operators but don’t go ignoring the second and more important wave of IoT growth.

NB-IoT and LTE-M technology to the rescue

2G, 3G and 4G technology was not well suited for IoT applications.   There was some usage but not the explosive growth that mobile operators required to bolster top line revenue and increase bottom line profitability.   Most chipsets for cellular communication were designed for higher bandwidth, burst of continuous usage and voice communications.  Most IoT applications target by cellular technology require lower bandwidth, infrequent usage and very long battery life (10 years).

The industry saw this and came up with LTE-M and NB-IoT technology for these important use cases.  LTE-M and NB-IoT provide low bandwidth with very long battery life that can be designed of up to 10 year of usage running off a battery.   LTE-M and NB-IoT first was specified in 3GPP release 13 in late 2015 and networks supporting these technologies are just becoming available.

GSMA tracks deployments and commercial launches of networks supporting LTE-M and NB-IoT devices.  In just a couple of years over 60 operators have launched commercial operations in support of this important IoT technology.

So what is the answer hype or reality?

The ultimate answer is yes it’s both hype and reality.   IoT use cases, deployments and devices will explode in the coming year.   Ericsson estimates that there will be 3.5 billion IoT devices attached to cellular networks by 2023.  Compound annual growth will be 30% for IoT devices.   The percentage IoT devices on cellular networks will be slightly more than 30% of the overall devices connected.   Operator will need this to stabilize revenues and increase profitability

What should I do now?

Get ready,  new customers, new use cases and new devices are going to place new and important connectivity, mobility, roaming and security requirements on mobile operators.

Chose global roaming partner that can provide value added services to help accelerate your IoT journey.  As new IoT technologies get introduced, not all use cases and business cases will make sense initially. Mobile network operators need a partner who can provide testing, consulting, knowledge, layer security and hosted value added services that helps provide the operator more business clarity.

IBasis is viewed at global trusted partner to help provide global reach, assurance and monetization of key mobile services.  IBasis stands ready to provide expertise, advice and testing to accelerate deployments of new IoT technologies and explore possible new business models.  IBasis brings collaboration by partnership, adaptability and excellence.

Contact us for discussing further how we can help to solve issues in global IoT deployment through our test environment.

 

 

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.

Solving the Challenges of IoT Service Providers

The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a technological and business revolution. We are still in the early adoption and adaptation stages of this revolution while standards and methodologies continue to evolve. Only a small percentage of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and even fewer businesses have achieved the progress and successes planned in this new business revolution.

Many strides in technology, including the specialization and reduction in size and cost of wireless and sensor technologies, have allowed manufacturers to make ordinary “things” smart connected devices. The promise of the Internet of Things is also to provide companies the opportunity to undergo a digital transformation from equipment/device manufacturers to service providers (IoT SPs) – providing a thing + a thing service.

As we have discussed in a recent post, one of the strides in technology is the reduction in size and standardization of the mobile subscriber identity module (SIM) – to the embedded SIM or eSIM. Just this week we have seen the launch of the Apple Watch Series 3 with embedded programmable SIM technology allowing for fully untethered operation following earlier mobile connected and untethered watch models from Samsung and LG.

 

 

For smart connected devices that require connectivity in global locations, the eSIM solves many challenges for IoT Service Providers:

• The logistics behind shipping, testing and activating millions of SIMs around the world requires significant orchestration and resources. With standard SIM technology, an IoTSP needs to order and stock SIMs from multiple MNO partners around the globe. When shipping their connected devices to customers, the IoTSP must be cognizant of the delivery destination and insert into the device the correct SIM card for the desired regional mobile operator. With eSIM technology, the SIM is a single programmable SIM that can be incorporated as an integrated circuit chip on a device circuit board or can be a commercial pluggable (e.g. 3FF or 4FF) or ruggedized (e.g. MFF1 or MFF2). With the eSIM, the IoTSP can insert the same eSIM card in every device delivered and program the card, or embedded chip in the device, to the correct regional mobile operator when the device is turned on in the delivered country.

• Negotiating with mobile operators across the world for IoT rates and coverage is typically not a core competence of IoT Service Providers. IoTSPs would rather be creating new, innovative, smart, connected “things” than allocating resources to become experts on the mobile connectivity market. In order to cover the globe, IoTSPs must become knowledgeable about the mobile network operator ecosystem and choose the right partners with the right technology and the right roaming agreements for their smart connected device service… Whew! This is difficult enough for companies that are in the mobile business. There has to be a better way for IoTSPs to navigate this landscape.

• IoTSPs must select and negotiate among the mobile data plans offered by the MNO when MNO agreements are made. Unless the MNO offers flexible plans and their OSS/BSS systems can support those, IoTSPs may end up paying many times the data used for big buckets of data use vs. actual use. IoTSPs are most often nimble, innovative companies that would like to see the same flexibility their MNO partner.

• With standard SIMs having a single set of mobile operator credentials, IoTSPs do not have the ability to choose which MNO is used even if there are multiple MNO’s providing coverage in the area. There are providers that offer fixed multi-IMSI technology that can help alleviate this problem, however, the industry standard programmable eSIM technology provides the most flexibility, interoperability, and future proofing in this area. With an eSIM solution and a suitable number of MNO partners, an IoTSP can define selection criteria to select, download, and enable the best operator credentials that meet the smart device’s needs for data rate, quality, and coverage among other parameters.

• IoTSPs 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 who’s 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. With the next generation eSIM capability, the credentials of a mobile network operator, in the country or region, can be dynamically downloaded and enabled on the smart device, allowing for data access in the local area, providing a lower latency and therefore improved user experience.

Next week we’ll discuss these challenges from the point of view of the MNOs. Stay tuned!

IoT Challenges for Mobile Network Operators and IoT Service Providers

IoT, or Internet of Things, is the concept of connecting devices to the internet. This can take the shape of any device, such as watches, refrigerators, headphones, vehicles, and even tennis shoes. By nature, these connected devices generate data about user activities and events, thus allowing strategic data to be mined by IoT service providers (those creating the connected devices). In turn, this enables service providers to improve user experience and customer satisfaction. According to the June 2017 Ericsson Mobility Report¹, a good portion of the connectivity for these connected devices can be via wide-range radio or cellular.

 

 

 


Challenges related to world of IoT

For Mobile Network Operators (MNOS), or the networks providing internet connectivity for connected devices, IoT connectivity, either locally or via roaming, presents many challenges:

  1. 1.  Providing coverage assurance: while some devices only communicate sporadically, others send data and can make calls constantly, making it difficult to anticipate, and therefore assure, necessary coverage
  2. 2.  Competition for the same customer (the IoT Service Provider)
  3. 3.  Roaming bill shock when sending traffic to roaming partners
  4. 4.  Inability to guarantee connectivity and user experience of traffic from a partner network

For IoT Service Providers the challenges are around:

  1. 1.  The logistics behind shipping, testing and activating millions of SIMs around the world
  2. 2.  Negotiations with mobile operators across the world for IoT rates and coverage, which is typically not the core competence of IoT Service Providers
  3. 3.  Paying many times for big buckets of data use vs. actual use
  4. 4.  Ability to control which MNO the IoT Service Provider uses when given a choice of many MNO’s
  5. 5.  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

The embedded SIM (eSIM) stands to improve these scenarios and make the objective of more reliable connectivity a possibility. By allowing a single device to switch to multiple local SIM profiles, based on location of use, allows for the reduction in roaming costs.

What is an eSIM?

While historically connected devices have required either a wireless signal or a SIM card to stay connected, the development of the eSIM card has the potential to improve the capabilities of these connected devices. While a normal SIM is restricted to one network profile, thus complicating the ability of a device to stay connected once the user has moved from their home network, the eSIM allows for several network profiles. Any device using an eSIM card has the ability to switch as many domestic network profiles as possible, allowing the user to use a local signal with any of these embedded profiles. With multiple network profiles to choose from, roaming rates may no longer apply while traveling.

It also removes the necessity of switching out SIM cards within the device, as the eSIM essentially makes the switch for you. User experience and customer satisfaction is vastly improved via the direct processing of the data close to the user, therefore resulting in an overall user experience that is lower in roaming costs, greater in coverage, and improved in ease of use.

Next week, we’ll discuss how eSIM can actually solve the challenges we have mentioned above.

1 Heuveldop, Niklas. “Ericsson Mobility Report.” Edited by Patrik Cerwall, p. 16., www.ericsson.com/assets/local/mobility-report/documents/2017/ericsson-mobility-report-june-2017.pdf.

2 “Roaming IoT Platforms: An Evaluator’s Guide to Connecting Global IoT Devices.” p. 16., uros.com/research/roaming-iot-platforms-white-paper.html.