What does eSIM mean for IoT?

An overview of the eSIM including eSIM definition, benefits for IoT and eSIM adoption.

What is eSIM?

eSIM stands for Embedded Subscriber Identity Module. The eSIM – embedded SIM – is an alternative to the traditional plastic SIM card which embeds SIM functionality into an IoT device. Using eSIM for an IoT SIM card has several advantages including enabling the SIM to be installed at the factory, rather than at the point of deployment. This means manufacturers of IoT devices can create truly global products with a single stock-keeping unit (SKU) with the eSIM updated over-the-air when it is deployed.

eSIM and eUICC – the embedded universal integrated circuit card – are often used talked about interchangeably, even though there is a difference between the two: the eSIM is the hardware component of the SIM and a physical form that can be soldered into a solution. The eUICC is the software component that allows the remote SIM provisioning of multiple network profiles.

How does eSIM work?

eSIM supports over-the-air provisioning of an initial operator subscription and the subsequent change of subscription from one operator to another in accordance with the GSMA Embedded SIM specification. Use of the GSMA Embedded SIM specification simplifies industrial and logistic processes for the distribution of M2M equipment.

Historically, SIM cards could hold just one subscriber identity linked to a single service provider. One service provider can still provide access to several networks through roaming, but in order to switch service providers, the SIM card needed to be physically changed to a new SIM card with a different subscriber identity. Physically exchanging SIM cards creates complexity for companies managing large fleets of devices, especially for international deployments, or if the SIM card is not easily accessible.

Another example of inefficiency was present when a business wanted to switch service providers when the existing contract expires. This might become costly, depending on how easy it is to physically access the SIM card in the already deployed fleet of machines.

Key eSIM IoT benefits include:

  • Simplified installation and deployment
  • Flexibility
  • Future-proofing
  • Cost-efficiency
  • Security

eSIM adoption in IoT

What is eSIM - eSIM adoption

Strategy Analytics forecasts that sales of eSIMs for IoT applications will grow to 326 million by 2025. One of the reasons for this projection is that eSIM offers the ability to change service provider profiles using remote SIM provisioning (RSP), without needing to physically change the SIM card itself, which is vital in enabling devices where it is either difficult or inefficient to access a physical SIM, for example hermetically sealed medical devices, vehicles, consumer electronic devices or a whole range of other IoT devices.

Telenor Connexion fully supports eUICC deployments, taking care of the commercial, technical and operational complexities related to the eUICC technology. We offer our customers a full stack IoT services, from hardware to managed connectivity services and data cloud management to software and app development. The eUICC technology is integrated in this stack of IoT managed services.

More content related to eSIM for IoT

White paper

A guide to the eUICC (eSIM) in large-scale IoT deployments

Unsure what the difference is between eSIM and eUICC? Where can it be used? And are there any benefits? Download our white paper to answer these questions and more about the technology.
eUICC vs eSIM guide

Video about eUICC in practice

What is IoT Guide

IoT connections

What are IoT connections? An overview of IoT connection types and IoT devices.
Go to "IoT connections"