Why eSIMs hold the key to a connected world

Last updated: 05 July 2017

Solving global environmental problems, driving smarter transport and even making sport safer – just an average day for the IoT. The technology is also changing our everyday lives; you only need to look at the number of wearables and connected devices available at the moment.

Our Connected Living 2025 report revealed young people across the globe want seamless connectivity and more powerful, versatile devices. The GSMA, the global association of mobile network operators, has been at the forefront of driving the evolution of connectivity. Another laudable effort is the launch of its latest dedicated blog, the SIM Reloaded Blog. In his recent post, Jean-Christophe Tisseuil, Head of SIM Technology – GSMA, emphasized how the embedded SIM has a crucial role to play in connected living. WiFi capabilities aren’t always enough. It’s clear that more devices need to be equipped with cellular connection, so that they can work independently without being tethered to a phone.

To support the growing number and increasing diversity of wearables – a sector now encompassing biometric t-shirts, tennis rackets and bikes – embedded SIMs could be crucial. To illustrate the point, take the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch. Thanks to a solution we unveiled at our Mobile World Congress stand in March, the S2 no longer needs to be linked up to a smartphone, making things much more convenient for runners. Now, they’ll be able to read texts, access apps and even make calls on their wrist without taking their mobile phone with them. The question is – how exactly does it work?

The solution is called On-Demand Connectivity, or ODC – and we’re proud to say it’s Gemalto’s. As you might guess from the name, it’s designed to enable connectivity on any device, anytime, anyplace. Built for both the M2M and consumer electronics markets, it uses embedded SIMs to ensure users can access the Internet seamlessly throughout the entire lifecycle of a device.

A potential obstacle to the technology’s widespread adoption might have been market fragmentation – embedded SIMs being locked into a single network during the manufacturing process. That’s why we’re delighted the GSMA has taken steps to address the problem by facilitating an agreement between 40 key stakeholders on giving people the option to download operator profiles over the Internet. The GSMA’s work has empowered consumers, allowing them to choose service providers for their e-SIM-equipped connected device. So, if you’re unhappy with your connection on your smartwatch, you’ll be able to change your provider swiftly and easily.

The future looks bright for the IoT and e-SIMs – and the implications are profound. The smartphone could see its dominant position challenged by increasingly intelligent and powerful wearables. In future, rather than looking for your phone to make a call, you’ll be able to speak into your wrist. The GSMA predicts that by 2020, there will be 125 million e-SIM connections worldwide, which could be valued at $174 billion. It’s clear e-SIMs are set to make a big impact.

What do you think about the potential of the embedded SIM? Let us know by tweeting to us at @Gemalto, or by posting a comment below.

2 thoughts on “Why eSIMs hold the key to a connected world

  1. I want to see ODC extended to smart cities. I want to be able to use a device when I am out and about instead of being a slave to my phone, charger or a watch.
    Cities can have kiosks like ATMs that let people login to their account and do anything they could do on their phone. Uber, Yelp, buy tickets to a show nearby, look for coupons and so on.

  2. Given the potential impact of sims, I would conjecture that 125M by 2020 is very much on the conservative side.

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