Apple’s recent announcement to launch only eSIM iPhone in US market has been flagged as a landmark in the history of telecom sector. This is also a first of its steps towards making SIM, a passe in the years to come. Indeed, a great indicator of future of consumer and market awareness.
eSIM is more than just the evolution of SIM cards from the physical to virtual. It is promised to have a great impact and value addition on the Internet of (every)things (IoT).
Helping in the transformation of the IoT based devices to a large extent, by providing flexibility to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) in building new range of products for global deployment especially in Industrial IoT, that includes sensors, processors, systems, and platforms; eSIM’s will be used by businesses to create greater operational efficiencies and other industry specific use cases.
GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) Intelligence predicts a total of 6.7 billion eSIM smartphone connections by 2030. This will account for 76% of the total number of smartphone connections which is a huge percentage in the adoption of eSIM devices.
So, what’s new on table with eSIM?
Every technological advancement removes some barriers and contributes to overall ecosystem by facilitating new use cases and eventually easing the life of consumers, raising the operational effectiveness of industries or some other monetised benefits. Here eSIM technology is more focused on the overall cost aspect, security, free of cost roaming and other legacy inconvenient bounds, that were linked with one subscription model.
End user will now, have the freedom to not be linked with single operator/subscription and switch to any operator on demand at any time and place.
While it’s no longer compulsory to purchase plastic SIM cards even today, however while travelling to new countries; as eSIM remote provisioning capabilities will play a good role, to get the best subscription for the user in his/her destination country.
Below is the forecast of eSIM smartphones which indicates the turning of wave in favour of eSIM phones and the path various manufacturers will follow in times to come:
IoT/M2M growth with eSIM:
There is a rapidly growing market of Machine to Machine(M2M) devices, low-cost sensors and systems which is forming a complete IoT ecosystem in itself.
These devices take advantage of mobile connectivity and typically use eSIMs which has the highest potential to disrupt the various inefficient processes and utilize the power of IoT.
Connectivity is and will be the backbone for any industry to flourish and deliver results with continuous innovation by analyzing the generated data points.
Cellular connectivity is becoming popular for IoT devices and here are evident reasons of it:
- Simplicity: That is future proof and flexibility of subscriptions to keep the devices connected throughout the life cycle of eSIM
- Scalability: Any small IoT setup can be easily leveraged with eSIM and very well suited to massive IoT.
- Security & Cost effectiveness: With its secured tamper proof and encryption logics, eSIM will be the safest bet on all security parameters
Considering the data from TCA, that shows 38% surge in M2M eSIM shipment volumes till Q1 2022 and are expected to increase further
Will 5G be the catalyst in IoT deployments?
This is a big yes, because 5G is designed to connect almost everyone and everything. It has great capability to deliver high speed internet, low latency, increased availability, and better reliability.
With its further capability to connect M2M devices globally on massive scale and almost virtually every machine, that is required by humans, in this scenario IoT, cellular connectivity will play a critical role.
Continuing from 4G, 5G will provide LPWA (low power wide area) connectivity too. Exclusively used by IoT and M2M communications, LPWA is leveraged especially by Industry 4.0 in addition to uses like metering, fleet management etc.
Holistically, main categories of 5G uses will be defined as per below:
Potential & Growth of 5G
The potential of 5G to transform industry operations will be huge, as it will enable use cases that don’t even exist today. Organizations will be looking at 5G as a primary need to match their roadmap for planned IoT uses. From connectivity perspective, eSIM is expected to achieve an astounding growth in consumer and IoT sectors and 5G will be a great promoter in coming times, that will accelerate IoT’s growth.
In general, industries look at rolling out IoT projects for digital transformation to bridge technological gaps and innovate new revenue streams.
As IoT device market adoption will be on fast-track, it will trigger the need to manage these devices which eventually will lead to increase the eSIM development and provide different usages.
The growth of IoT adoption in India will also be supported by Govt. initiatives like Smart Cities, DoT initiatives etc.
There are various tailwinds and headwinds that coexist with any innovation.
Here, the tailwinds are on heavy side, and industry is expected to grow at faster pace in the Indian ecosystem. While, headwinds must be tackled by collaboration and working together from MNO’s, eSIM suppliers, sensors manufacturers and industry specific leaders to roll out and cap up the best possible impact of 5G connectivity.
As eSIM adaption is taking pace with increased awareness, industry priority must be to promote, secure, scalable, and standard way of working deployments that can meet unique requirements of various emerging usages in different industries. This will require industry stakeholders across the connected system to support trusted connectivity in both consumer & M2M segment.
Industries will have to lay down their IoT strategies as early possible to ensure they ride the bandwagon of digital transformation and generate various other revenue streams, while changing the consumer experience in the end too.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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