Downloadable ‘softSIM’ aims to boost IoT deployments

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By Nick Flaherty

Danish startup Onomondo has developed a SIM that can be downloaded from the cloud and installed securely on a microcontroller to ease the rollout of millions of devices in the Internet of Things.

The softSIM takes advantage of the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) on the modem/radio-module or on the microcontroller running the embedded operating system, allowing the SIM to be stored and executed as pure software.

This allows IoT network operators to change service providers without having to physically replace a SIM in a sensor or unit that can be in a remote or harsh environment.

eSIMs (on a memory chip) and iSIMs integrated into a chip have grown in popularity in recent years to this issue, using the eUICC (Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card) standard. This offers more flexibility than regular SIMs, but the commercial agreements can be equally binding through bootstrapped network profiles, and hardware still needs to be installed into each device.  

The Onomondo SoftSIM offers a different approach with the download of software onto the microcontroller. This is network agnostic, giving customers the ability to choose their network and exactly the type of service they need depending on the product they are tracking, avoiding hidden lock-ins or unnecessary costs.

This can reduce the bill of materials for companies rolling out IoT by between 50-90% depending on the scale of the fleet says Onomondo

The company has worked with over 700 operators at the Radio Access Network (RAN) level across more than 180 countries, as well as layering its own API-based IoT platform on top. As soon as the SIM is downloaded, assets can seamlessly move across national borders without the inherent complexity of roaming. SIM production is expected to grow rapidly as connected IoT devices are predicted to reach 27 billion by 2025.

This also gives more access to granular, real-time data on the performance of each connected device, allowing them to tap into their global grid and troubleshoot IoT devices from anywhere.  Data is transferred directly across the Onomondo virtual network to one of the firm’s cloud partners (Microsoft Azure, AWS, IBM Watson and more), so enterprises can easily understand what is going on between devices and the network, through to the core network, and on to the IoT cloud from a single interface. 

“The move to a plug and play SIM card is the catalyst that IoT has needed to be deployed at scale and to start to reach its full potential.  In terms of significance, we see the development of a downloadable SoftSIM as comparable to the impact that the Cloud had on the internet,” said Michael Karlsen, Co-Founder & CEO, and Henrik Aagaard, Co-Founder & CTO at Onomondo in Copenhagen.

“By eliminating the requirement for a complex physical connection, it removes an important friction point, as well as opening the door to a broad spectrum of people to bring true innovation and creativity to IoT as customer needs develop. The SoftSIM will also make an important contribution to improving IoT sustainability, eradicating the need for billions of chips a year to be manufactured, transported and installed.” 

THe softSIM will be available in Q1 of 2023.

Earlier this year Onomondo announced a new $21m growth investment led by investment firm Verdane to triple its recurring revenue in 2022 and 2023. The company also plans to scale its team from 50 to 100 over the next year, helping to expand its customer base, which currently includes Bosch and shipping giant Maersk.

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