What is an embedded SIM?

An embedded SIM, or eSIM, is a digital SIM card embedded directly into devices like smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and other IoT devices. Unlike a physical SIM card that uses a removable SIM card, an embedded SIM is programmed directly into the device’s chipset during manufacturing.

How does an embedded SIM work?
An embedded eSIM has a built-in chip that contains the same functionality as a physical SIM card. When a user purchases an embedded SIM supported device, the manufacturer or mobile network operator will provide an embedded SIM profile that contains the necessary information like the phone number and network settings. This profile is downloaded directly over-the-air (OTA) to the embedded chip without needing to insert a physical card. The embedded SIM profile can then be updated remotely as needed by the carrier.

Benefits of embedded SIM Technology

Convenience of Remotely Activating and Switching Plans

With an embedded SIM, users no longer need to physically insert or swap SIM cards to activate a new plan or switch between carriers. Everything can be managed remotely via an app or online account. New plans, international roaming packages and number transfers can all be enabled from anywhere with just a few taps. This brings much greater flexibility and convenience compared to physical SIM cards.

Dual SIM and Multi-Network Capabilities

Since eSIM don’t take up physical space, devices can support multiple embedded SIM profiles simultaneously without needing additional hardware. This opens up possibilities for true dual SIM functionality and easy switching between networks right on the device. Users can maintain separate work and personal lines or switch networks on the fly depending on coverage and cost.

Supports Growing IoT Requirements

The proliferation of IoT introduces connectivity needs for a huge variety ofdevices that may lack SIM card slots. An embedded SIM’s digital and remotely configurable nature makes it ideally suited for low-cost IoT use cases likesmartwatches, tablets, laptops, utility meters, sensors and more. OEMs benefit from the standardization and management capabilities of embedded SIM in building large-scale IoT products and services.

Improved Security

With profiles securely stored and managed digitally via operator servers, there is no risk of a physical SIM card getting lost, damaged or hacked if stolen. Embedded SIMs also support remote profile locking and deregistration if a device is lost or stolen, protecting user data and phone lines. Additional security comes from only allowing queued profile downloads signed by authorized parties.

Supports Seamless Regional Coverage

For global travelers or businesses operating internationally, eSIM streamline switching between local operators seamlessly. Instead of procuring multiple physical SIMs prior to trips, international plans can be purchased in real-time and activated remotely regardless of location. This delivers a far superior roaming experience over physical SIMs.

Green Credentials

As embedded SIMs eliminate the need for physical SIM cards that require plastic manufacturing and distribution, they reduce electronic waste. Fewer physical components also make embedded SIM devices more environmentally friendly and efficient to produce at scale. This green angle further boosts embedded SIM’s credentials for powering future IoT and mobile devices.

Making embedded SIM Mainstream

Device Support is Growing Rapidly
Major smartphone brands like Apple are integrating embedded SIM support across entire product lineups rather than select models. Most flagship Android models from Samsung, Google and others now also accommodate embedded SIM. Tablets, PCs and smartwatches represent other rapidly expanding categories of embedded SIM ready devices.

5G to Boost embedded SIM Deployments Further

With 5G networks bringing blazing speeds and connectivity capabilities, more use cases will emerge across sectors like automotive, industrial, healthcare and public networks. eSIM is well positioned as the smart choice for managing billions of simultaneous 5G IoT connections. This will drive large-scale embedded SIM adoption to power the future realities of Industry 4.0.

Growing Carrier Support Worldwide

Mobile operators are upgrading their back-end systems and processes to activate, manage and switch between embedded SIM profiles seamlessly. Major U.S and European carriers now actively promote embedded SIM across both business and consumer plans. Additionally, embedded SIM enables new entrants to offer virtual-only mobile plans without distribution overheads of physical SIMs.

Regulatory Push for Standardization

Global standards bodies and telecom regulators are ramping up guidelines to establish embedded SIM as the interoperable core networking technology going forward. Recent mandates in Europe require all mobile devices to support embedded SIM by 2024 and 2026. This will accelerate the much awaited rollouts and address lingering issues around cross-network functionality.

Undoubtedly, eSIM is the future of mobile connectivity that overcomes many limitations of physical SIM cards. Widespread device integration along with regulatory tailwinds will help embedded SIM go mainstream over the coming years. As networks deploy 5G on a grander scale, embedded SIMs are well-positioned to power exponential growth of IoT and future mobile innovations by seamlessly managing trillions of machine-to-machine connections globally.


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