« Back Reflection 30.08.2022

Juha Lohvansuu, Technology Manager, Aidon
The new eSIM standard frees IoT devices from operator dependency

The SGP.31 standard published by the international GSMA organisation in the spring extends the eSIM operator switching model developed for consumer devices now to IoT devices. The standard defines uniform interfaces between operators, service providers and device manufacturers related to operator selection. It is designed for devices such as remotely readable meters, which do not have a user interface enabling operator switching.

The extension of the so-called consumer eSIM standard – used for instance in Apple watches and Samsung smart phones – to the strongly growing IoT market will steer operators’ investments accordingly. The standard which connects consumer and industrial devices will attract the interest of strong local operators, as the standardisation will improve their possibilities for offering competitive services to the rapidly growing market for IoT devices. International roaming M2M operators, on the other hand, will have to rethink their strategy.

For distribution system operators the standard is good news. The above-mentioned, expected expansion of the local operators’ service offering brings more options and flexibility to the selection of device connectivity based on service quality and price, both during the roll-out as well as the whole life cycle of the devices.

From the device manufacturers’ point of view, the eSIM standard enables the development of simpler and more reliable devices than before. Typically, in IoT devices the operator has been selected at the moment of manufacturing of the product, and it has not been changed during its life cycle. Changing the operator without changing the SIM card has previously been based on the M2M standard, and the change has been possible or not possible – depending on operator agreements and integrations. The new standard enables switching the operator regardless of previous operators or agreements. The device can decide the optimal time for switching the operator independently, depending on which operator offers the best network coverage. The service price can also be a basis for changing the operator, and the selection of the operator can be done remotely and in a controlled way.

At Aidon, we identified early on what benefits the consumer eSIM model could offer to our customers. Already in 2019 we started developing such solution in cooperation with Thales and Nordic mobile operators. Aidon’s eSIM solution was the world’s first implementation developed for AMM use and it was deployed in autumn 2021 in our 7000 series devices installed for Elenia. Since then, we have agreed on its deployment with several customers and operators.

The standardisation news at the beginning of summer 2022 confirmed our vision from a few years ago to be correct: the growing IoT device market needs flexible service models. We believe that this will open up a completely new and interesting playing field that will give customers a real freedom of choice.