4 eSIM deployments for IoT

Tags: eSIM
A picture of Marcin Kulczycki
Written by
Marcin Kulczycki

Welcome back to our mini-series on eSIM and Remote Subscription Management topics.

In the previous post, we dove deep into the features and characteristics of consumer eSIM and M2M eSIM. This time we are focussing on the actual deployments of different IoT applications that benefit from the on-demand remote provisioning of eSIM profiles.

This overview aims to demonstrate available eSIM deployment models, both in Industrial IoT and Consumer IoT. And also to become a conversation starter for your own implementations.

The scenarios that we're going to cover are:

  • Industrial IoT Devices
  • Consumer IoT Devices
  • Companion Devices
  • Connected Cars

Industrial IoT Devices

This is the most typical use case for the M2M variant of GSMA’s Subscription Management solution.

A wide range of industrial IoT devices (all of them being discussed in our previous blog post) require some type of connectivity with back-end infrastructure. For devices that are widely spread across remote areas, the optimal connectivity type is a cellular connection.

With cellular connectivity in place, the other factor is the need for a SIM-based mobile subscription. SIMs are embedded to devices already at the time of manufacturing and before its distribution across the world.

Additionally, once an IoT device is installed on-site it is usually done as a long-term installation and in a way of limiting future replacements of the SIM, either due to its design or for security reasons. This also applies to industrial form factors like MFF2 and iSIM.

To allow for future changes of a connectivity provider on IoT devices that have already been deployed in the field, for example due to contract termination or coverage issues, the M2M variant of the Subscription Management system provides a complete and secure solution that can be relied upon.


The diagram focuses on the main elements of the M2M Subscription Management solution used for the use case described above.

  • Industrial IoT Devices are deployed with eUICCs (in removable or embedded form factors). A generic eSIM Bootstrap Profile is included as the first boot-up connectivity subscription.
  • SM-SR Platform manages all registered eUICCs that are deployed in the field with eSIM Profile management operations (Enable, Disable, Delete).
  • SM-DP Platform provides the functionality to download additional eSIM Profiles, the operation is being sent via SM-SR connectivity.

Consumer IoT Devices

Consumer IoT devices have become the newest add-on to the consumer market that creates a new set of services and use cases. They also create new market opportunities for service providers in selling a new range of products beyond traditional offerings of mobile phones.

These kinds of devices frequently come with eSIM capabilities due to limitations in the available space and low power supply.

In contrast to industrial IoT devices, these are end-user oriented devices such as smart speakers, web cameras and pet monitors.

All the mentioned characteristics and limitations mean that they require the Consumer variant of Subscription Management solution with the client-oriented pull model.


The diagram focuses on the main elements of the Consumer Subscription Management solution.

  • Consumer IoT Devices are deployed with eUICCs (in removable or embedded form factor). The generic Bootstrap eSIM Profile can be included as the first boot-up connectivity subscription. Alternatively, other non-cellular connectivity means, like WIFI, Bluetooth or NFC, could be used for an Operational eSIM Profile Download.
  • SM-DP+ Platform is responsible for a dedicated and operational eSIM Profile’s Download operation as well as any future eSIM Profile management operations (Enable, Disable, Delete). All of them are executed from the device via a dedicated mobile app or automatically during device power-on.
  • SM-DS Platform is an optional service that allows for the discovery of a dedicated SM-DP+ server (otherwise unknown to the device), and download of eSIM Profile associated with the particular eUICC. It happens either as a part of a device power-on profile discovery procedure or executed manually by the end-user with Add Profile operation via the IoT device GUI.
  • Mobile App installed on consumer IoT device, enables end-users to manage and configure their devices and download operational eSIM Profiles.

Companion Devices

Another emerging group of new connectivity opportunities in the consumer IoT market comes from wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers.

This entirely new segment of connected devices became popular thanks to improvements in device miniaturisation, battery lifetime, data bandwidth and speeds from the latest cellular technologies of 4G and future standards.

In comparison to the consumer IoT devices, which function as standalone devices, wearables are designed as companion devices. They are paired with an end-users' primary device, e.g. a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop. Companion devices can share the same phone number and subscription details as an existing end-users service plan.

In such a configuration, they are used for very similar purposes as a primary device. Activities like making & receiving voice calls, text messages, mobile payments, using navigation apps or streaming music.

Companion devices also rely on a primary device to manage the connections required to download and manage eSIM Profiles. They don't have their own capabilities to communicate directly with the SM-DP+. Instead, they contact the server via a primary device.

These kinds of companion devices also rely on a primary device for accessing the user interface. It means that the user triggers eSIM Profile Download towards the eUICC located in the companion device using the primary device's GUI (graphical user interface).

The interaction between both primary and companion devices include a secure pairing and secured communication, e.g. using wireless NFC, Bluetooth, WIFI or wired USB connection.


The diagram focuses on the main elements of the Consumer Subscription Management solution used for this use case.

  • Companion Devices are deployed with eUICCs (due to their size usually in an embedded form factor). The generic Bootstrap eSIM Profile can be included as the first boot-up type connectivity subscription. Alternatively, other non-cellular connectivity means, like WIFI, Bluetooth or NFC, could be used for an Operational eSIM Profile Download.
  • SM-DP+ Platform provides service providers with secure storage of their eSIM Profiles. It allows them to be downloaded on a companion device.
  • Mobile App installed on the end-user's primary device allows a companion device to be set up and configured with a new subscription.

Connected Cars

Connected cars are integrated with mobile connectivity and have become another target market for connectivity and service providers. Cellular connectivity allows for an improvement of driving experience through

  • various infotainment options, like navigation maps or streaming media services,
  • collection and transmission of diagnostic data for vehicle servicing,
  • critical firmware updates from a car manufacturer,
  • emergency call system (eCall),
  • monitoring driver behaviour for insurance purposes.

We also studied the connected car use case from the VPN and data security perspective in this blog post.

The lifetime of the car and length of the connectivity contract increases the importance of a well designed Subscription Management system. A fully interoperable and compliant solution supports an open ecosystem of different connectivity providers.

In the connected car use case, both variants of the Subscription Management solution could be set up and deployed, serving different purposes:

  • M2M variant with its SM-DP and SM-SR platforms, used for eSIM Profiles management operations executed by the server-side (push model) and under full control of the car manufacturer.
  • Consumer variant with its SM-DP+ server, used for the end-users' driven interactions with various infotainment apps.

The diagram focuses on the main elements of the combined M2M and Consumer Subscription Management solutions used for this use case.

  • Infotainment Module playing the role of a consumer IoT device. It is deployed with an eUICC (in removable or embedded form factor). The generic Bootstrap eSIM Profile can be included as the first boot-up type connectivity subscription. Alternatively, other non-cellular connectivity means, like WIFI, Bluetooth or NFC, could be used for an Operational eSIM Profile Download.

  • Control Module playing the role of an industrial IoT device. Similar to the Infotainment Unit, it is deployed with an eUICC and a Bootstrap eSIM Profile.

  • SM-SR Platform provides the capability to manage all eUICCs and eSIM Profiles deployed globally.

  • SM-DP Platform provides the mechanism to download additional eSIM profiles dedicated to specific regions or countries.

  • SM-DP+ Platform provides the ability for the driver to provision mobile connectivity to the infotainment apps, from different service providers.

Conclusion

There are several types of deployments existing today that are addressing different sectors of the IoT market. As the presented examples indicate, the particular use case dictates the application of the Subscription Management solution.

At the moment, 1oT is offering eSIM services to industrial IoT use cases with the support of our M2M Subscription Management infrastructure, with SM-DP and SM-SR platforms.

We hope you found this mini-series of blog posts helpful and educative. If you have any further questions or are considering getting into the eSIM technology for your IoT deployments, don't hesitate to contact us at hacking [at] 1oT.com for help.

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