Will the Apple Smartwatch 3 drive the eSIM into the IoT space?

Will the Apple Smartwatch 3 drive the eSIM into the IoT space?

Technology News |
By Wisse Hettinga

However, smartwatches are essentially consumer IoT devices and eSIM provides a intelligent way of enabling LTE and eventually 5G connectivity for IoT devices. It also enables mobile operators to identify and integrate a wide range of IoT devices into their networks.

Dealing with traditional SIM cards when it comes to IoT devices is not feasible due to the high number of these devices and the size and power constraints that come with the IoT.

As the eSIM is a hardware embedded device it cannot be removed and is much smaller than the traditional nano SIM. The eSIM removes the need for handling as it is part of the hardware, saving time and enabling designers to deliver sealed waterproof devices. As, the eSIM is software configured, users can change operators and access services via software.

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Apple is taking the eSIM mainstream with its latest smartwatch. Though Samsung smartwatches already use an eSIM, Apple is expected to add considerable volumes to this market. What about other IoT markets?

For mobile operators to be part of the IoT revolution the eSIM is the easiest route to take. Traditional SIM won’t work due to size, inflexibility, clumsy handling and the fact that millions of devices need to be set up on a network. Software configuration and setup abilities of an eSIM can solve most of these problems.

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For example, in smart cities, and for smart devices in remote areas, SIM and subscription changes would be problematic. Manually handling millions of devices such as smart meters, for example, would incur massive service costs every time a SIM card needed to be replaced. There is also no room for automatic configuration and changes across different operators. Users might want to use different operators in different parts of a city. Remote areas would incur costs by needing to deliver SIM cards to difficult to reach places or areas with little infrastructure.

The software flexibility of the eSIM enables quick, easy deployment and management of these use cases.

Another problem with the IoT is the multitude of vertical silos driven by many different organisations and standards groups. As the eSIM is driven by the GSMA, it enables operators to enter this market with a single standard that uses their networks and those of their partners.

As smartwatches are forced to adopt the eSIM due to size and power constraints, it will demonstrate the advantages that are on offer and potentially drive other IoT markets beyond the consumer. As we bring connectivity to devices such as smart meters, health monitors, industrial robots, vehicles, amongst others, the eSIM is an obvious and easy choice. On the consumer side it will also allow the use of a single number for a multitude of devices – smartphone, smartwatch, smart meter, car and so on. This in itself is a compelling use case.

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Smartphones still generally use SIM cards since operators are primarily worried about the ability to switch between networks easily and this brings up the spectre of churn. However, the size advantage of eSIM will come into play as more and more is getting packed into smartphones. Further, users can buy services on the fly, especially when they travel. For example buying a connection at the airport or when on holiday would be a massive benefit.

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To conclude, the IoT will need the eSIM to resolve the problems of size in small devices and to deal with the complexity of coping with millions of devices on a network, sometimes in just one city. Further, mobile operators have a way into the IoT market with the eSIM, especially with LTE and 5G on the horizon.

See also: Chronicled and Qtum Foundation to develop secure IoT use cases using blockchain

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