LTE-M cellular module eSIM targets size-constrained IoT
Swiss company, u-blox has announced the SARA-R500E, its first cellular module with an embedded SIM chip (eSIM). Offering LTE-M connectivity, SARA-R500E is designed for size-constrained applications with high requirements in terms of robustness and security, such as connected healthcare and asset trackers. The first variant of the module will offer out-of-the-box connectivity on a North American LTE-M cellular network.
eSIMs are increasingly gaining a foothold in devices offering cellular connectivity. Today, most such devices, including the vast majority of smartphones, still feature a plastic SIM card that contains all the attributes and features required to connect the device to the cellular network. Like the plastic SIMs they are designed to replace, eSIMs are provisioned with a profile that allows devices to connect to a specific mobile network operator.
The eSIM embedded in the SARA-R500E offers product developers and end-users important advantages. eSIMs are more robust than standard plastic SIMs and cannot be stolen or removed, increasing the security of the device. By doing away with the components required to hold and connect plastic SIM cards, they enable smaller devices, reduce the bill of material and simplify manufacturing. Finally, SARA-R500E streamlines sourcing by offering the module, data plans, and the SIM from one house.
“SARA-R500E greatly simplifies logistics for device makers, as the eSIM is already integrated inside the module. All the customers have to do is activate connectivity choose the data plan that best fits their needs via the u-blox Thingstream IoT service delivery platform. Particularly those customers that are too small to negotiate dedicated data plans with mobile network operators will benefit from a competitively priced offering,” says Samuele Falcomer, Product Manager, Product Center Cellular at u-blox.
The fact that the SARA-R500E module’s eSIM does not need to be inserted manually by the end-user allows product developers to design tightly sealed devices that meet the demanding IP67 and IP68 criteria. This makes the module ideal for rugged IoT applications such as smart meters, surveillance cameras, and environmental sensors.
The module also offers the option to access u-blox’s MQTT Anywhere service, which reduces bandwidth requirements for cellular data transfer, saving costs and power. The u-blox IoT Location-as-a-service portfolio, including AssistNow for real-time GNSS assistance data, and CellLocate, for cellular network-based positioning, is also available.
SARA-R500E is pin-to-pin compatible with all the other modules in the SARA family and uses the SARA-R5 AT command interface, making it easy to drop the SARA-R500E into existing designs.
First samples of the SARA-R500E will be available in September.