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Operators say yes to carrier-neutral SIMs for IoT sensors

Posted: 12 Sep 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sensors? M2M? GSMA? cellular carrier? SIM?

Editor's note: GSMA, an organisation of European mobile operators, has created a working group to develop a specific non-removable SIM that is embedded into the IoT sensors during manufacturing. EE Times' Pablo Valerio looks into the benefits of global and interoperable SIM provisioning and management architecture, and how these will possibly reshape the IoT and M2M markets.

Most outdoor sensors for utilities and city services are using M2M (machine to machine) solutions based on cellular networks. That poses a challenge to developers because they need to negotiate agreements with several cellular carriers in each market. Also the size of the SIM (subscriber identification module) cards limits the possibility of making smaller sensors and other connected devices.

When Amazon introduced the Kindle 2 international version in 2009, it was shipped worldwide with an AT&T international SIM, allowing users to shop the Amazon store and download titles almost anywhere in the world. That made sense to Amazon because people don't use the Kindle to browse the web, and they could offset the cost of the data charges with the book prices.

But millions of sensors sending continuous data to servers are another issue. It is not economical to fit everyone of those with an international SIM, or even a local one. Many other solutions are now being tested, including the upcoming 700MHz 802.11ah standard. But, as of today, cellular data is the only solution already deployed and ready to use.

The GSMAthe European mobile operators' organisation that puts on Mobile World Congress and whose members includes most of the world's cellular operatorshas created the Embedded SIM working group, which already includes cellular carriers and system developers. At this moment AT&T, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Morpho, NTT DOCOMO, Oberthur, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor and Vodafone participate in the project.

Basically, the operators are proposing a specific non-removable SIM that is embedded into the IoT sensors during manufacturing. The SIM can later be provisioned over the air with the subscription profile of the operator providing the network. The device could be later reprovisioned if the unit is moved to another location or the customer decides to use another provider.

GSMA architecture

Split and roles of the GSMA's Architecture's Subscription Manager. GSMA's Embedded SIMs Group says its vision is 'to remotely provision mobile operator credentials onto a SIM'. Source: GSMA

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