eUICC technology, often referred to as eSIM, promises the ability to change operator profiles, remote provisioning and management of SIM profiles, and eliminate the need for physical SIMs. eUICC is still an emerging technology, so we encourage all IoT enthusiasts to get familiar with the relevant background on how eSIMs can be used, who are the key players and providers, and what the most common use cases are.
Learn more about choosing the right IoT SIM for your project.
eUICC-Enabled SIMs (eSIMs)
Who are the key players?
According to Transforma Insights over 3.3 billion cellular-based IoT shipments will be carried out within the 2023-2027 period, with 1 billion of RSP-capable devices. This number is expected to grow further due to the flexible environment and cost efficiency eUICC (eSIM) provides. Companies such as G+D (Giesecke & Devrient), Thales and IDEMIA integrate their GSMA-compliant eUICC OS into the MFF2/WLCSP chipsets by ST Micro, Infineon and NXP, and other providers. Some providers like the above are well-known global players, while other, younger companies, like Kigen, have a vast partner and customer base and focus on IoT applications.
What are the major eUICC SIM (eSIM) form factors in IoT?
eUICC is available for all the known form factors (1FF, 2FF, 3FF, 4FF, MFF2 (eSIMs), iSIM), because it is first of all a software capability and not directly linked to hardware. Every SIM form factor is available with and without eUICC functionality. The form factors above are the most common and provide flexibility of size, integration options and eUICC deployment in a wide range of IoT devices and applications. As a quick reminder on the basic dimensions:
1FF/plastic: 85.6mm × 53.98mm × 0.76 mm
2FF/(Mini)/plastic: 25mm x 15mm x 0.76mm
3FF (Micro)/plastic: 15mm x 12mm x 0.76mm
4FF (Nano)/plastic: 12.3mm × 8.8mm × 0.67mm
MFF2 (eSIM/SIM chip): 5mm x 6 mm x 1mm
iSIM (Integrated SIM) provides the same functionality as the above formats but is designed into a system on chip (SoC) and is less than one millimeter squared in surface area. It is well suited to small devices that lack physical space as well as require significantly less power consumption than MFF2. At the same time, SIM manufacturers always keep up with innovations to provide even smaller and more light-weight products, such as Wafer-Level Chip-Scale Packages (WLCSP)and Chip-Scale Packages (CSP), that are less than 25% MFF2 area.
At the same time, SIM manufacturers always keep up with innovations to provide even smaller and more light-weight products, such as Wafer-Level Chip-Scale Packages (WLCSP)and Chip-Scale Packages (CSP), that are less than 25% MFF2 area.
Find out more about eUICC (eSIM) and SIM in IoT.
Remote SIM Provisioning
Providers and Players
Who are the key RSP players in the market?
Today, the market of the RSP leaders majorly with those of eUICC SIM providers. Companies such as Kigen, Thales, G+D, and IDEMIA, provide remote SIM provisioning platforms via OTA provisioning of SIM profiles, facilitate remote management, and switch mobile network subscriptions.
Functionality, rules, and technical setups
How does it work and what’s involved?
In terms of the most widely used variant of eUICC, the SGP.02 ‘M2M’ approach, RSP uses a server-driven to provision and remotely manage profiles in 3 phases:
First, the SM-DP secures and stores profiles on the server ready for allocation, download and installation go to the target eUICC.
Next, the SM-SR ensures safe transfer of both eUICC platform and profile management commands so that to load, enable, disable and delete profiles on the eUICC, it must communicate via SMS encrypted with ISD-R keys. eUICC sets a secure data communication session (HTTPS) back to the SM-SR. The eUICC may also trigger itself to establish an HTTPS session.
Finally, the SM-SR together with ISD-R enables secure download and installation of the profile from the SM-DP into a new ISD-P. It also manages these profiles.
Speaking about deeper tech processes and terms, we should differentiate the following RSP aspects:
Functionality comprises Subscription and profile management that implies management of SIM profiles, and also covers tasks like provisioning, activation, and deactivation of subscriptions. Over-the-Air (OTA) enables remote management of eUICC profiles, including installing SIM profiles from different network operators over a wireless connection; and Lifecycle management that covers the entire eUICC lifecycle, from provisioning to profile swapping and storage of sensitive data.
Rules and specifications imply GSMA standards, such as consumer, M2M and other solutions that will be discussed below, including SIM profile definitions (network credentials, authentication passwords, service entitlements), security measures, such as encryption and more.
Technical setups include eUICC-capable SIM cards that allow RSP and SM-DP that stores the profile description from MNO, generates and stores personalized profiles, and downloads and installs profiles on the eUICC via SM-SR. SM-SR then stores all eUICC data and securely delivers the encrypted MNO credentials based on the device identifier. There are also other parts involved such as MNO infrastructure, OTA channels, and security.
Please, find out more about Remote SIM Provisioning on our page.
eUICC-compatible Hardware in IoT
What are the top eUICC-compatible hardware providers?
There is a long list of the trusted module providers in the IoT hardware industry. However, it doesn’t mean that all their modules support eUICC, and most of the time one should check the hardware specifications before buying. Here are a few of the leaders:
What eUICC compatible modules are available?
As already mentioned, first request module specifications before ordering a device. However, here are a few examples of eUICC capable modules you may purchase:
Sierra Wireless MC7421. This is an optimized 4G LTE connectivity module that is a part of the MC Series and provides high speed connectivity. It delivers 300Mbps of peak download and 100Mpbs upload rate, offers sXGP and is based on the PCI Express Mini Card standard. The temperature range covers -30°C / +70°C, -40°C / +85°C. Targeted for EMEA and Asia Pacific.
SIM7100E by SIMCOM. It supports 4G LTE, 3G, and 2G, and is a part of SIMCom’s SIM7100 series. The peak download rate of SIM7100E is up to 100 Mbps (4G LTE), and the peak upload rate is up to 50 Mbps (4G LTE). It utilizes the standard mini-SIM (2FF) card. It is a global module designed to work in various regions worldwide within temperature ranges typically between -40°C to +85°C.
Quectel EC21-EU. It supports 4G LTE, 3G, and 2G, and is a part of Quectel EC21 series. The peak download and upload rates are 300 Mbps and 50 Mbps correspondingly. It utilizes the standard mini-SIM (2FF) card. It is specifically designed for the European market, but it can also work in other regions with compatible network frequencies. The operating temperature ranges for EC21-EU are specified as -40°C to +85°C.
You may find more information about eUICC compatibility, providers, and modules here.
What GSMA standards are applied?
eUICC-enabled SIM protocols ensure security and integrity for data transfer, while the distribution channels may contain ‘business logic’ that is sometimes quite demanding in terms of device connections control. The GSMA provides 3 solutions to deal with the challenge:
Consumer solution is a ‘direct-to-consumer’ channel, which means the end user can choose the operator providing connectivity. It also deals with companies that target consumer markets. Learn more.
M2M solution implies ‘business-to-business to consumer’ channels. The solution serves the needs of B2B customers in IoT. Learn more.
IoT (GSMA SGP.32) is a completely new technical specification for eSIM remote provisioning utilized for IoT devices which are network constrained or user interface constrained. It is broadly based on the Consumer specification, but there are certain differences. Learn more.
Consumer IoT and other standards
Are there any other standards and specifications available?
There are some beyond GSMA, for instance:
ETSI’s consumer IoT standardization activities apply a radio layer in 3GPP and service level in one M2M. The standardizations are involved in technologies like smart M2M communications, IoT semantic interoperability, and context information management. Learn more.
Trusted Connectivity Alliance’s eUICC Profile Package: Interoperable Format Technical Specifications defines the technical specification of a standard format for installation of profile package in compliant eUICC. Learn more.
Find out more details about eUICC standards here.
Which goals can be achieved with IoT eUICC?
Flexibility. eUICC-enabled SIMs (eSIMs) provide a fully digital journey, which means there’s no need to physically change SIM cards when you switch to a different operator’s profiles. This kind of flexibility can lead to 8-13% saving on lifetime connectivity.
Global rollouts. One specific operator often doesn’t offer the most suitable conditions, such as coverage and roaming, in every region. The eUICC technology enables IoT devices to overcome restrictions on foreign operator profiles by remotely managing and updating SIM card profiles.
Sustainability. At the same time, digitalizing connectivity via eSIM management technology saves on plastic, reduces CO₂, and logistics.
Learn more about how eUICC can help overcome the related challenges.