eSIM makes global enterprise IoT easier and more flexible

eSIM provides enterprises and CSPs with options for managing connected devices globally.

IoT connected device on a beach

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According to Ericsson’s recent Mobility Report, there will be over 25 billion connected devices operating worldwide by 2025. IoT is rapidly growing, with substantial revenue potential to make any enterprise and communications service provider (CSP) alike excited for the future. However, for global enterprises planning product strategies and investments, whose products will need to operate anywhere in the world, achieving global connectivity presents a few challenges. The next generation of connected products will need to be able to connect straight from the box and be able to function, seamlessly, no matter where they end up, and in the case of connected vehicles, to wherever they may travel. Thankfully, there are options.

The challenge

When it comes to bringing connected products to market, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) face several challenges. Smart OEMs know that connectivity needs to be a factor from the start of the product’s lifecycle and not an afterthought once it’s already built. One challenge is that manufacturers might not know where their connected products end up in the world, hence not knowing which CSPs they will end up working with. But regardless, the products need to connect immediately when activated. Utility meters, water pumps, automobiles, consumer devices and other industrial goods are often built in one country but will operate in another.

Another challenge is that fixed and mobile IoT devices alike, may need to work with several CSPs over the course of their lifespans. Mobile products encounter an extra challenge to maintain seamless connectivity as they travel from one CSP’s coverage area to another.

Early implementations of global IoT products have typically used standard international roaming mechanisms to achieve cross-border coverage, but the introduction of eSIM (embedded subscriber identity module) is providing an alternative to enabling local connectivity in global markets. Both have their advantages and will complement each other in allowing enterprises to go global in the most practical way.

What enterprises need from connectivity

Connected devices are everywhere. They are diverse in both type and the purpose they serve. Devices like sensors in manufacturing facilities and utility plants can be managed by onsite personnel who can provide maintenance as needed. However, many others with long lifecycles, like smart meters, need to operate unattended for a minimum of 10 years.

Over the course of the product’s lifecycle, it will likely need software updates and may even experience a change in CSP. If a CSP change occurs, connectivity must remain, which would require the enterprise to physically switch out SIM cards. In the case of a smart meter, a technician may need to travel to a remote location to do that task, which can cost up to $200 per meter, per trip. No one wants to waste the time and money to do that.

Thankfully, there is a way to overcome that. As OEMs prepare for the future, they are making investments that will serve as a strategic foundation for decades to come, and that includes how their products will connect. CSPs who understand this and facilitate flexible connectivity and options will establish themselves in a changing market that will be much larger than imagined.

Why eSIM?

A SIM card is exactly that - a plastic card that ties devices to a CSP. For global OEMs, whose products are connected by multiple CSPs in different countries, it means they have to embed the right SIMs from the right CSPs into their products during manufacture.

Once in the field, if these connected devices need a CSP change – e.g. water pumps switching to a new CSP or cars crossing from one country to another - they will need new SIM cards. For enterprises with large numbers of deployed devices, this can turn into an enormous task due to the sheer volume of devices and their disparate locations.

Realizing that it is a hassle to manage or change physical SIM cards, OEMs are embracing eSIM technology, which allows for remote provisioning of device credentials. This provides greater flexibility since devices can immediately connect, no matter where they are deployed, or in the case of connected vehicles, to where they may travel during their use.

eSIM is ideally suited to enable CSPs to securely offer global IoT connectivity services for international enterprises. However, it is not a replacement for roaming, for there are often instances where roaming is the more cost-effective option for enterprise customers. By offering eSIM alongside roaming, CSPs will create more opportunities for themselves in a rapidly growing IoT market.

Management is key

As important as offering the right combination of connectivity services to enterprises for their diverse devices, is how all those devices are managed. This makes the management platform a critical component of any CSP’s IoT strategy.

The right platform will maximize the benefits of using eSIM technology. The wrong platform will severely limit them. Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator with eSIM functionality provides CSPs with a top-class IoT service platform with global core network and the means to easily create a unique global IoT ecosystem. These features help forge partnerships and reselling agreements across CSPs to achieve true global connectivity.

Ericsson was among the first to launch eSIM service in the IoT platform market and has been continuously evolving the service together with rapidly growing CSP customers and enterprise customers. The powerful eSIM engine enables both enterprises and CSPs to define their own business logic and orchestrate necessary remote SIM provisioning systems. This provides ideal connectivity and subscriptions management for a variety of business scenarios and use cases.

IoT Accelerator eSIM solution can also interconnect with other partners’ management solutions to transfer or localize eSIM subscriptions between different CSPs by exposing all the services via a simple and modern restful API. This allows for a richer and better IoT connectivity service for enterprises. With these capabilities and the IoT Accelerator’s strong CSP partner network, enterprises are empowered with the incredible flexibility that eSIM provides.

Many vendors claim to support eSIM. Ericsson lets the numbers speak for themselves - we support eSIM connectivity and management for more than 20 CSPs. Our most recent feat is the over-the-air eSIM swap for IoT devices between Singapore and China, enabled by our platform through our IoT Accelerator partners Bridge Alliance and Singtel.

Learn more about how the flexibility of eSIM benefits both enterprise IoT and CSPs.

Curious about eSIM use cases? Read how Brighter’s Actiste delivers IoT healthcare through a device that helps diabetes patients manage and monitor their glucose. Pre-installed in the device, eSIM delivers connectivity straight from the box.

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