Thoughts and trends at MWC: eSIMs, IoT and post-quantum

Last updated: 25 March 2024

At huge events like Mobile World Congress (MWC), it’s common to feel overwhelmed by information.

We attend sessions, meet new people, and take in fresh insights. But then, by the time we get back home, it’s become too much to process. The temptation can be to simply revert back to our everyday routines and ways of thinking – but fear not!

We’ve distilled some of our biggest announcements and learnings from the event down into three key themes that will shape the year ahead…

eSIM as a business enabler

Consumers are embracing connected devices of all kinds, and one of the biggest talking points at this year’s show was around how mobile network operators (MNOs) can eliminate the need to pre-load SIMs and subscriptions.

In response to this challenge, ZTE (a leading global manufacturer of smartphones, tablets and mobile internet devices) shared its new device designed to deliver instant connectivity for Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). Based on eSIM technology, this device simplifies the activation of new subscriptions and removes the need for end users to connect their devices to cellular networks via Bluetooth.

We also heard more about how Google is simplifying and speeding up device activation. It has adopted a standardized, simple, and secure way to activate eSIMs on its devices – wherever and whenever a device is turned on, without the need for multiple clicks.

Beyond smart phones, eSIMs are being used for industrial devices, including smart meters, security systems, healthcare equipment, and payment systems. Telit Cinterion shared new insights into how this technology can ensure production flexibility and connectivity of smart meters, even in rural areas, without the need for physical handling of SIMs.

The simplification – yet massification – of IoT

It was clear at MWC that our connected world is expanding at an unprecedented pace, with many exhibitors showcasing brand new smart wearables, connected cars and intelligent appliances. In fact, Gartner’s crystal ball now reveals a staggering prediction: by 2027, as many as 2.5 billion connected IoT devices will be shipped worldwide.

This means we’re no longer just talking about the Internet of Things, but Massive IoT, which combines the management of a multitude of sensors, connectivity, and data processing to create new ways to solve problems.

Massive IoT deployments require effective connectivity and cybersecurity management, which frequently result in manufacturing, logistical, and operational issues. So, we were pleased to showcase our all-in-one solution that overcomes existing technology limits to make sure IoT deployments are simpler, safer and robust – while also preserving flexibility of choice throughout the device’s lifespan.

Combining the consumer GSMA standards and machine-to-machine (M2M) concepts, Thales Adaptive Connect enables Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and global Connectivity Service Providers (CSPs) to take advantage of the consumer and IoT growth opportunities.

Preparations for a post-quantum world

As we gear up to handle the surge of connected devices, security must remain at the forefront, and one of the biggest threats on the horizon is quantum computing. In time, this will have the power to dismantle the encryption methods that protect our entire mobile ecosystem – exposing it to hackers and cyberattacks.

At MWC this year, the spotlight was on solutions that are resilient against emerging quantum threats. This included post-quantum cryptography (PQC) SIM cards, which have been successfully tested on SK Telecom’s 5G standalone commercial network. PQC SIM cards enable the encryption and decryption of subscriber identities in a secure way – helping to protect user privacy from future quantum threats.

Our reflections on MWC

In this blog we’ve explored three separate trends – eSIMs, IoT and post-quantum – but they are all closely intertwined. Ultimately, the industry aims to simplify the future of IoT with eSIM-based connectivity, putting security front and centre.

After another whirlwind event, we need to remind ourselves that we cannot just return to ‘business as usual’. The world is changing fast, and the sector needs to keep upping its game to deliver secure solutions for a connected world.

Learn more about Thales at MWC here: From post-quantum cryptography to seamless connectivity and 5G security, find out how Thales enables a secure connected world | Thales Group

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