New GSMA Intelligence Study Tracks the Evolution of the SIM

New GSMA Intelligence Study Tracks the Evolution of the SIM

Study Sees Embedded SIM And Remote Provisioning Influencing Future of the SIM.

A new GSMA Intelligence report published today provides an overview of recent developments in the SIM card market, underlining the industry’s efforts to work towards defining a new approach to the SIM that will serve both the M2M and consumer markets.

“The SIM has provided the security and authentication to access mobile networks for almost a quarter of a century and it will continue to do so as the market evolves,” said Hyunmi Yang, Chief Strategy Officer at the GSMA.

“By 2020 we forecast nearly one billion cellular M2M connections and nine billion consumer connections that will require SIM cards, so it is critical to ensure security and robustness in the evolution of the SIM.”

The SIM will need to continue to provide secure, identifiable and authenticated access to mobile operator networks – regardless of how any evolution occurs. However, alternative SIM solutions to the traditional approach of a single SIM card issued by a singe operator have recently been deployed in some M2M devices and tablets.

The main characteristics of these new solutions are:

  • Embedded solutions – SIM cards that are fixed in the device and cannot be removed.
  • Remote provisioning – SIM cards that can be updated over the air and store one or more operator profiles.

The GSMA’s Embedded SIM Specification has been developed to serve the M2M market and has been adopted by nearly 30 operators and vendors to date.
The GSMA Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning initiative (announced separately at Mobile World Congress this week) is creating a common and global specification for Remote Provisioning for the consumer market that will be consistent with the M2M solution and interoperable between different suppliers.

“The GSMA is working together with its members to ensure mobile operator business models are adapting to new SIM technologies and meeting ever-changing consumer requirements,” added Yang. “Operators will continue to play a key role in how the SIM develops and the pace of evolution.”

According to the report, these alternative SIM solutions will not impact all operators, countries and consumer segments in the same way or at the same time and widespread adoption of any new solution will take a number of years. As such, operators will determine when and if to embrace Embedded SIM and Remote Provisioning based on specific market requirements and criteria.

The report also notes that neither the Embedded SIM nor Remote Provisioning can be considered a ‘Soft SIM’; in both these cases, the physical hardware element is always present and adds an indispensable layer of security.

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