Finally, the Real Potential of eSIMs in IoT Will Be Unleashed

Embedded SIM cards, or eSIMs, have been on the market for years. We are using them in cars, smart devices, and mobile phones to minimize roaming costs and switch seamlessly between mobile networks. Despite the popularity of this technology, the telecommunications standards were not capable of accommodating the full potential of eSIM, especially in the Internet of Things (IoT) domain. That is, until now.

The challenges of eSIM technology

According to Counterpoint’s research, the eSIM market is estimated to grow significantly, with 70% of all cellular devices expected to be equipped with either eSIM or iSIM (SIM card integrated directly into the device’s processor) by 2030, and only two out of five will be related to smartphones.

For years, eSIMs for the consumer market and IoT solutions have been using different GSMA standards. More popular consumer eSIMs required the user’s intervention: the consumer needed to sign an agreement with a virtual provider through a mobile application, scan a QR code, and activate a new profile manually. With IoT solutions, the situation was vastly different. Most IoT devices lacked any user interface or QR code to scan; all of those operations needed to be performed automatically through complex remote service provisioning platforms (RSPs). The second problem was related to uploading operator profiles, which were performed with a special binary SMS that many IoT devices didn’t support. Some components had to be configured during eSIM production, adding logistical complexity and security assurance costs.

The new GSMA standard for the IoT domain

The previous standard for the IoT had inconveniences. Remote service provisioning platforms (RSP) were composed of SM-DP (subscription manager data preparation) and SM-SR (subscription manager secure routing). The integration of these two components was quite complex (one SM-DP had to work with many SM-SRs). The secure routing element needed to be configured during eUICC manufacturing, adding a lot of costly logistical operations for enterprises with factories scattered around the world. Additionally, if a device’s profile needed to be changed from one MNO to another, the RSP platform had to support it and integrate with another SM-SR. On top of that, the RSP system had to be equipped with expensive security measures because of security key exchanges during profile uploads.

Everything changed in May 2023, when GSMA published a new SGP.32 standard, introducing a number of consumer-sector solutions to the IoT domain. This standard addressed many of the previous limitations, offering, among others, new solutions to manage data preparations, secure routing, and a broader range of configuration upload protocols.

Some of the most important features that the new SGP.32 standard offers are:

  • Data Preparation+ component with standardized interfaces for the operator
  • New eIM (eSIM IoT Remote Manager) solution capable of integrating with many Data Preparation+ components and IoT devices instead of multiple secure routing elements per operator
  • The ability to configure eIM at any time, during eUICC manufacturing or later, when a device is already in use. One device can be linked to many eIMs, and the connection can be easily changed or removed.
  • A broader list of light protocols for configuration uploads (other than SMS) made available.
  • New IPA (IoT Profile Assistant) element responsible for all profile operations that can be installed in the eUICC or device (based on the consumer standard solution).

Benefits of eSIM and iSIM for IoT businesses

From a business perspective, the adoption of the new standard unlocks a multitude of opportunities for stakeholders across the industry. Manufacturers can now produce devices without operator lock, enterprises can buy services from any operator even outside their home country, service providers benefit from simplified architecture, and CMP vendors gain streamlined integrations. All of these changes help cut previous costs and remove many logistical overheads that were present before. This trend will most likely continue to grow in popularity, with a gradual shift towards integrated SIM cards in the future. The emergence of the even more advanced iSIM technology offers further enhancements in terms of energy efficiency, size reduction, and security, promising even greater advancements in the years to come.

The evolution of eSIM technology marks a significant milestone in telecommunications, with far-reaching implications for connectivity, innovation, and efficiency. As the IoT market continues to embrace the new standard and explore the possibilities of iSIM technology, the future of the industry appears brighter than ever before.


Wojciech Martyniak
Wojciech Martyniak
M2M/IoT Product Manager

Wojciech’s focus for the last 11 years has been on new technologies, new services in the IoT world, the connected world, and a convergent approach to m2m services composed not only of connectivity but also from devices and applications.

Please wait