In Australia, most eSIM coverage has centred around the benefits to consumer devices such as Apple and Samsung smart watches. But there are different types of eSIM and the industrial applications afforded to Internet of Things (IoT) devices by commercial eSIMs can be transformative. So, what is an eSIM and why should your organisation consider it for IoT?

What is an eSIM? – the answer in a nutshell

It’s important to note that even though the acronym eSIM stands for ”embedded SIMs”, eSIMs are available in removable form factors as well. eSIM technology offers remote SIM provisioning capabilities which allow the user to remotely provision their eSIM cards with the required carrier profile without ever changing the physical SIM card. The physical SIM card could be embedded or removable. The key differentiator between traditional SIM technology and today’s eSIM card is this ability to provision carrier profiles remotely.

The small size of eSIMs and the fact that it is not necessary to manually replace or configure them, not only opens doors for consumer electronics applications, but solves numerous problems and introduces multiple opportunities for operators of IoT devices.

7 IoT benefits of eSIM

1. Remote provisioning of multiple devices

Traditional phone SIM cards are installed by an individual person and the provisioning information related to that SIM card’s mobile carrier is pulled from the cloud. IoT eSIMs can be controlled from any location with provisioning information pushed to (potentially multiple) devices.

2. Mobile carrier information can be updated

IoT devices do not need to stick with a single carrier’s network technology. Should the network’s technical requirements change, the eSIM can be updated remotely. Should there be a need to use a different carrier, this too can be updated remotely.

3. Reduced site visits

Without an eSIM, a site visit is required to update a single device’s carrier information. However, eSIMs’ OTA (over the air) updates eliminate this significant time and expense.

4. Improved resiliency, redundancy and reliability

Should one network become unavailable or have its performance drop below a particular threshold, eSIMs can switch to fall-back networks or make use of network steering to maintain and/or improve performance.

5. Global coverage

eUICC (Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card) compliant eSIMs combined with Multi-IMSI (Multiple International Mobile Subscriber Identities) capabilities offer out-of-the-box, worldwide, network compatibility and can operate globally by making use of hundreds of global carriers.

6. Prolong the life of device investments

eSIMs stay with a device over the course of their existence. So a loss of connectivity caused by network changes is far less likely to render the entire device obsolete.

7. Future proof connectivity

If a network technology is updated, an eSIM will update accordingly. You won’t lose access to a device if, say, a baked-in 3G network is turned off and replaced with 5G. eSIMs can work with evolving network technologies.

All of these benefits equate to reduced operational costs, superior reliability and greater opportunities for almost any organisation with entrenched IoT.

Which companies support eSIMs?

Telstra supports eSIM and so does Optus and Vodafone. This is important, considering the evolving nature of Australia’s mobile networks. For example, Telstra has announced that its 3G network will be discontinued in 2024 - consider the inconvenience if you had set up a device with a fixed 3G SIM in a remote location and had to physically go there and update the SIM when 3G is turned off. Telstra continues to rapidly add 5G connectivity to its primary 4G footprint.

Providers of eSIM technology include KORE, which is making inroads in Australia with its OmniSIM offering  that supports over 500 mobile network carrier profiles in 215 countries. The company also offers its OmniSIM Rush offering to customers who require higher data usage plans in the US and Europe, currently.

Users of eSIMs include Melbourne’s Swoop Aero, which uses drones to deliver medicine to remote, disadvantaged communities. Eric Peck, the CEO, says that eSIMs gives the organisation “The ability to communicate reliably anywhere in the world, anytime… [they allow] Swoop Aero to deploy a sustainable and scalable drone logistics network bridging the last-mile and enabling an equitable health access to anyone from Scotland to Malawi.”

Where can I find out more about eSIM applications for IoT?

KORE will discuss eSIMs during a special panel discussion about IoT connectivity at the IoT Impact conference at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on June 9 (KORE is a sponsor of the event). Click here for more information about speakers and the agenda. There are still some tickets left, but get in quick!