Use Cases: How eUICC-capable SIM Cards Help to Overcome IoT Connectivity Challenges

  1. Cost-Related Issues with IoT SIM Cards

    1. eUICC-capable SIM cards are becoming increasingly prevalent as they provide advantages like remote management capabilities and improved operational efficiency. The search for solutions for each manufacturer starts with differentiating between the cost aspects and global problems they have to face. Apart from manufacturing overspendings, consider the following ones: 

      Logistics. This involves supply chain of SIM stocks including warehousing and distribution to manufacturing sites, shipment to the end user, the nominal cost of manual insertion, debugging costs, and localization of the deployment with the provisioning of APNs.  

      The failure of IMSI switching. This results in the end of device connectivity, requiring truck rolls to reset the SIM, especially in M2M use cases. 

      Compliance costs. In the section above we mentioned a roaming issue. In some cases, the use of roaming SIMs results in both tangible and intangible costs. The managing operator has to reconnect the device, or sometimes agree to more punitive contract terms. Not to mention reputational damage and disruptions to service for end users. In some cases, permanent roaming is not allowed, and a local operator profile is needed to keep connectivity services available. 

      Future-proofing. Another potential scenario is the discontinuation of the host network, leaving the device without connectivity, for example during the refarming of 2G/3G networks. In addition, network operators may not support every technology indefinitely. 

      Security costs. There's always a slight possibility of a security breach, which could result in financial losses and damage to reputation. The presence of a removable SIM card can potentially increase fraud risks. 

      eUICC-enabled SIMs simplify logistics, eradicate the need for physical intervention, providing remote configuration and management. Let’s dive deeper into the global problems that are related to these costs in the sections below. 

  2. eUICC and Global Rollouts

    1. Problems

      1. Restricted use of foreign operator profiles

      Roaming is still essential in connecting IoT devices. EU standardization and roaming agreements between operators help to solve the connectivity issues in many countries. However, in some areas, changing regulations can mean that roaming and consequently the product won’t work. This applies to Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian markets in particular. Changes and enforcement of regulations restrict the ability of IoT devices to roam across different networks. IoT devices may experience disruptions in connectivity and face obstacles when attempting to connect to local networks in foreign countries. This can lead to delays in establishing connections, increased costs associated with SIM card replacements, and difficulties in maintaining a consistent and reliable IoT network across different regions. 

    2. 2. Management of multiple SIMs and providers

      The IoT SIM card model often involves deploying devices to multiple geolocations, and finding that one perfect SIM is cumbersome, resulting in customers' need to manage SIM cards from multiple providers. Managing multiple SKUs (stock keeping unit) is always a challenge, and one needs to ensure the right SIM goes into the right device and then is shipped to the correct location. A single human error can result in thousands of devices landing in a location where they won’t connect or will have high roaming charges.  

    3. Solutions

      1. Profile of a local MNO via Fix-to-SIM standards

      To ensure the technology (for example 2G or 3G) you choose will be there in years to come, focusing on markets where roaming hasn’t been regulated yet, or where we can obtain local connectivity contracts may solve the issue. But these options may be time consuming and complicated. Traditional IoT SIM cards require physical interaction through replacement or reprogramming to comply with local regulations. On the contrary, involving eUICC technology in the connectivity strategy helps to overcome this challenge by Fixed-to-SIM (FTS) standards that enable remote provisioning, management, and updating of operator profiles. 

      eUICC gives an opportunity to comply with local regulations regarding the use of operator profiles in IoT devices. When a device enters a country with restrictions on foreign operator profiles, the eUICC can be remotely provisioned with a profile from a local operator, ensuring compliance with the regulations.  

    4. 2. Remote profile switches and use of eUICC

      eUICC enables ordering and managing of only one SKU physically. There is always a kind of eUICC-capable SIM to order and manage, which mitigates unforeseen problems or costs. With the remote management of profiles on the eUICC, the device can receive the correct profile meant for remotely based on its location.  

  3. How eUICC Improves Flexibility

    1. Problem

      Vendor lock-ins and expensive truck rolls

      The IoT SIM card model often involves vendor lock-in. A situation where a company becomes overdependent on a particular vendor, service, or technology complicates the process of switching to alternative solutions. This limitation hinders flexibility and increases operational costs, particularly when a truck roll is required to replace or reconfigure their SIM card. Vendors across various industries such as healthcare, enterprise IT, industrial, and aerospace are actively searching for an opportunity to minimize the need for truck rolls. Dispatching a technician for on-site repairs can reach $300-$500 per service call. Together with technician’s training and salary, fuel for the service vehicle, additional labor support, and more, the total cost per incident reaches an estimated $1,011, as calculated by the Technology Services Industry Association.  While complete eradication of truck rolls may not be possible, the integration of eUICC technology in IoT SIM cards can undoubtedly minimize their occurrence, creating substantial financial savings and greater customer value. 

    2. Solution

      Remote profile switches

      Providing real-time data and diagnostics remotely helps with remote troubleshooting in IoT SIMs. Today, it’s possible to use eUICC capability to overcome vendor lock-in by remotely switching profiles between different MNOs.  Physical replacement of a SIM card can be eliminated, which means no related truck-rolls needed while device service costs also decrease.  With eUICCs, organizations can overcome vendor lock-in by remotely switching profiles between different MNOs. This flexibility allows businesses to choose the most suitable connectivity provider without the need for physical SIM card replacement. By reducing the dependence on costly truck rolls, organizations can achieve greater operational efficiency and cost savings. 

  4. Contributing to Sustainability with eUICC

    1. Problem

      Plastic & CO2 increase, resource overconsumption

      One of the significant environmental concerns related to the SIM card exchange is the increase in plastic waste, CO2 emissions, and the extensive resources involved in the whole process. Over 4 billion plastic cards are sold per year globally. The exponential growth in the number of IoT devices and the demand for wireless connectivity means there must be sustainable alternatives.

    2. Solution

      Eco SIMs

      eUICC technology offers a green and resource-saving solution to the challenges associated with traditional SIM card management.  

      • Plastic reduction. Profile management and SIM change turns into a fully digital journey. By reducing the frequency of SIM card changes, production and packing, the generation of plastic waste is significantly reduced.  

      • Lower CO₂ emissions. In addition to reducing plastic waste, eUICC it contributes to reducing carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. Avoiding the need for physical SIM card exchanges and associated logistics, eUICC helps minimize the carbon footprint associated with transportation and distribution. 

      • Resource efficiency. Traditional SIM cards necessitate manufacturing, packaging, and distribution processes, which consume valuable resources such as labor, materials, and production time. With eUICC, these resource-intensive aspects are minimized, resulting in cost savings and conservation of resources.  

  5. eUICC Decomplicates Long-Lasting Testing Procedures

    1. Problem

      SIM swapping in QA process

      Often, customers are using end-of-line tests for their hardeware. To ensure the devices are working as expected and pass the QA process, customers use a test network emulator such as Rohde & Schwarz network emulator to simulate a network and conduct the QA testing. To make this scenario, they use a “test SIM card” which they physically add and remove. This results in a long QA process and doesn’t allow a mass QA process on every device creating further limitation. If your device uses a MFF2 SIM (soldered into the device), it is impossible to replicate the above scenario. 

    2. Solution

      eUICC test profile

      eUICC now supports what is referred to as a test profile. This technology allows remote switching between the initial profile and a test profile which is preloaded on the eUICC product. This switch does not require any server actions - with one simple AT command it is possible to enable and disable the test profile. Therefore, there are no more physical interventions and there is limited testing on a few devices, which means more automated QA tests.   If you want to find out more about eUICC (eSIM) cards, you can view our guideline

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