4 Key Takeaways - The road to eUICC/eSIM enabled IoT connectivity
eUICC enabled eSIMs/SIMs are a more common point of discussion these days. But, did you know that starting with an eUICC enabled SIMs/eSIMs requires perfection in many ways?
Cellular module support
There is a wide range of cellular modules to choose from. Cellular modules from the vendors like Quectel, SIMCom, Ublox, Telit, Thales, etc. are needed for any IoT device to get connected to a cellular network.
Not all modules are compliant towards eUICC functionality. This functionality enables you to change connectivity service provider Over-The-Air (OTA), without SIM/eSIM replacement. Why would you need that?
We hear many stories from companies deploying Internet of Things (IoT) devices into the field. Roaming agreements between service providers change leading to limited connectivity support or increased connectivity prices. Several mobile operators are shutting down 2G and 3G networks. In such cases, if the cellular module does not support eUICC functionality it is impossible to change the connectivity provider remotely and the only remaining option is to recall or replace the device or SIM/eSIM. In case you have been using the embedded SIM (eSIM) soldered into your device printed circuit board (PCB), it is a costly engineering challenge.
TAKE-AWAY #1, before selecting and ordering cellular modules ensure that it supports eUICC. Further, think and evaluate if 2G would pave the way or if 3G, 4G, LTE-M or NB-IoT would be required, or multi-frequency support is required as often seen with LTE-M and NB-IoT where users usually look for fallback support on 2G, 3G or 4G. Finally, pay attention to regional frequencies supported by the modules, some have global support, others not.
Connectivity reach vs business requirements
Think about your short-term, mid-term and long-term business requirements. Do not build a product primarily focussed on technology, business case and business strategy comes first, technology is just an enabler to deliver that strategy. If you are building an IoT device with service aimed at your local country, then you are operating without the business plan to reach out to foreign clients.
If your aim is to serve the local market, then the most important question you should raise is if your local connectivity service provider is offering you a countrywide connectivity support with an acceptable price. You might have a device which is sold to serve in a static, non-mobile environment like smart meters or it might be a mobility solution like in-asset tracking, pet tracking and livestock management. In both cases but especially in the latter, it is beneficial to have multi-operator support to reduce the cost of multiple stock-keeping units (SKU). Also, multi-operator connectivity support gives you better connectivity coverage reach in case of non-supported shadow areas of cellular connectivity. Always remember no mobile operator can offer 100% countrywide coverage, there are always gaps in coverage.
Various connectivity service providers offer different pricing options. Firstly, fixed monthly costs for each active SIM regardless of data / SMS consumption. This cost relates to SIM management, network resources linked to the cellular network and the corresponding connectivity profiles reserved for your SIM card. Secondly, there are offers that include minimum monthly consumption regardless of how much data has been consumed. Thirdly the data consumption that is often referred to as megabyte (MB) per month, but also high consumption cases where Gigabyte (GB) or Terabyte (TB) usages are common. Some connectivity service providers also offer pooled data usage packages which can be shared among the SIM cards included in the bundle/pool. Finally, there are both prepaid and postpaid options, where often the prepaid options have cost savings.
- First, estimate your data consumption per SIM per month.
- Your geographical needs such local, regional or global
- No single provider in the world can serve the whole market alone or fulfil your 100% requirements and therefore eUICC enabled SIMs/eSIMs with right connectivity orchestration service play key role. Remember, eUICC enabled SIMs/eSIMs with compliant cellular modules is not enough. There are other key requirements before you can take full advantage like connectivity orchestration service including connectivity and subscription management.
eSIM or standard plug-in SIM
Did you hear from someone that by using an eSIM you can change your connectivity provider remotely without changing the physical SIM card. Wrong!
To change the connectivity provider following key requirements must be supported.
- Cellular modules need to support eUICC. A “Yes” as an answer from module vendor is not enough as on many occasions we have found modules to be non-compliant. It must be tested and approved on a service that you as a client are going to buy from a service provider that you wish to buy from.
- The SIM card needs to support eUICC. There is information circulating in the market that to have eUICC support MFF2 SIMs i.e. embedded SIMs or eSIMs need to be used. There is no relation between the SIM card form factor and eUICC. eUICC can be supported in any physical or virtual format including standard plug-in SIMs and in embedded MFF2 SIMs.
- To change the connectivity profiles there is need for a Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) platform.
- Having all the previous key requirements supported is useless if there is no connectivity switching service available between the mobile operators. This is the ultimate requirement. Once all these 4 key requirements are supported you are ready to use a connectivity insurance for your own future cellular connectivity needs. Having connectivity insurance is a great competitive advantage while selling your IoT devices to customers.
TAKE-AWAY #3 There are various use cases where embedded SIM is not needed and standard plug-in SIM could pave the way with eUICC support. So, if you already have an IoT device with standard plug-in SIM holder, start with this and ensure all four key requirements are fulfilled to get connectivity insurance prior to moving forward with high volume deployments.
TAKE-AWAY #4 Service, service and service. If you’re still convinced that your current connectivity provide supports all these 4 key requirements, ask them the following simple question. “Should I want to switch to another connectivity provider today, which connectivity provider I can switch to and how much it will cost?”
- If you can’t switch today, you are locked by technology and lack of service.
- If the switching costs you unreasonably, you are locked by commercial feasibility.
ConnectedYou was created with a mission to “Democratise IoT Connectivity” by solving real problems and needs. ConnectedYou is a digital marketplace for all your connectivity service orchestration needs.
Try now, sign up at https://manage.connectedyou.io and shop at https://shop.connectedyou.io/ for eUICC enabled SIMs and eSIMs or buy virtual profiles to download on ConnectedYou eUICC enabled SIMs/eSIMs.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your real connectivity insurance in place.
If you need support in identifying the correct eUICC compliant modules for your devices, contact us at email@example.com. ConnectedYou runs an independent certification program to ensure module compliance to our eUICC enabled connectivity orchestration services.