What is an eSIM?

As telecommunications technology continues to made great strides, so has the once overlooked SIM card. In this article, we take a closer look at eSIM technology. Exploring its potential to reduce the cost of ownership, enhance flexibility, and offer a broad range of end-user benefits.

What exactly is an eSIM and what role does it play in connectivity? How can it take your IoT suite to the next level by reducing hassle, keep operating costs low, and future-proofing any IoT project? Here are some insights to those questions and more.


SIM Form Factors (Sizes) 

First things first. Did you know that SIMs come in 5 different form factors? The most common being: 2FF, 3FF, 4FF and MFF2. 1FF is no longer in use for modern applications.

By dimensions, SIMs measure: 

  • 1FF (first SIM) – 85.6mm × 53.98mm × 0.76 mm
  • 2FF (mini SIM) – 25mm x 15mm x 0.76mm
  • 3FF (micro SIM) – 15mm x 12mm x 0.76mm
  • 4FF (nano SIM) – 12.3mm × 8.8mm × 0.67mm
  • MFF2 (eSIM) – 5mm x 6 mm x 1mm

As you can tell, the MFF2 or eSIM is relatively new. With the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) releasing standards for this SIM form in November of 2016.  


Clearing the Air – eSIM vs. eUICC 

The term eSIM can refer to 2 different features which sometimes causes confusion.

An eSIM can refer to either;

  1. The specific embeddable form factor — the MFF2 (see SIM form factors above); or 
  2. The technology that makes remotely switching carriers over-the-air a possibility — an embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC) 

eUICC is not a hardware concept. It refers to software on the SIM card that allows for the remote provisioning and management and switching of operator profiles. SIMs of all form factors may or may not be eUICC compatible. Alternative SIM software includes ICC and UICC.

An eUICC enabled SIM can host multiple operator profiles, compared to an ICC or UICC SIM limited to one profile. This limits their ability to switch to the best available local network.


Growth of eSIMs in IoT Deployments

Over the next decade, eSIM subcriptions is expected to grow exponentially. With some analysts estimating a 25 to 30 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2023 to 2033. Reaching a net worth of €12.64 billion

This trend is largely driven by the increasing number of connected IoT devices and smart solutions. Industries from transportation, logistics, healthcare to retail and beyond are becoming more technology intensive. With use cases ranging from automating processes to making better business decisions through data driven insights.

Yet, ensuring and managing secure and seamless connectivity can be difficult for any enterprise. With more traditional connectivity options often resulting in poor connection, cost viability and diminished services.

These are all are issues that eSIMs are likely to overcome.


Advantages of the eSIM

A significant advantage of an eSIM is their compact size. Given eSIMs only take up milimeters of space, they can be permanently mounted on the device motherboard. This is a vital feature as more companies are looking towards the miniaturization of devices, resulting in severe space constraints.

It also reduces the amount of building material such as PVC and metals used during the manufacturing process. This not only makes eSIMs a more environmentally sustainable solution in the long term, but also enables organizations to go to market quicker.

Another benefit of the eSIM is operational flexibility. For eUICC enabled eSIMs, you do not need to order replacement SIM cards or negotiate with different service providers for each regional or global deployment. As mentioned, eUICC allows for remote over-the-air (OTA) provisioning. This gives you the opportunity to update or configure your entire IoT device fleet on demand.

Finally, eSIMs also provide increased security. Since the eSIM is embedded, it is virturally impossible to take it out of the device or tamper with it. This ensures that the gateway to your device and to its network remains protected throughout.

All this comes with the additional benefit of ZARIOT’s management portal. This gives you 24/7 visibility of your devices and usage. Imagine a company that operates 100,000 smart meters across the United Kingdom. Their engineering team can monitor usage, turn devices on or off, and switch service plans or provider without leaving their desks. 


Final thoughts

With the presence of a highly dynamic business landscape, organisations simply cannot afford to experience lapses in connectivity. It is also imperative to avoid the hassle of managing different connectivity contracts and hefty costs while sourcing service providers. With eSIM services is expected to gain significant traction in forthcoming years, why wait?

If you’re looking for more information on ZARIO eUICC enabled eSIMs, read more here. Or better yet, test out our SIMs today. Contact one of our experts who are on hand to help develop an ideal IoT connectivity solution for your needs. 


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