Surprise! the GSMA’s big Christmas present to the M2M sector

Dec 19, 2013

This is a tricky subject in the mobile world, which is why what an independent observer might expect to be an obvious move has taken to now to reach fruition. The idea of loosening their iron grip on the SIM has mobile operators in a sweat - what about security? And without a physical SIM all sorts of uncontrollable disruptive retail behaviour might break out. It’s dangerous territory.

But nevertheless the completely embedded (and therefore untouchable by human hand) SIM has long since become an obvious ‘must’ for many M2M applications and as that’s an area mobile operators desperately want to keep, the embedded SIM has arrived.

Why embedded? Many tiny sensors, for instance, must be hermetically sealed, so there’s little chance of inserting a physical SIM upon deployment. In other applications M2M units might move about and may need to be updated (after manufacture) with an appropriate service provider. And it’s not feasible to send out a man to several thousand units in the desert (say) with a screwdriver and a pack of SIM cards.

What was clearly needed was an industry-standard embedded SIM specification. The embedded ‘blank’ SIM could go in at manufacture and the service provider could then undertake remote 'over the air' provisioning and management of the units at a later date… and then change them again if necessary.

And today, that is what the GSMA has provided, with all the signs of an end-of-year deadline being met.

"The number of mobile connected devices is expected to reach 11 billion by 2020, growth that will be led predominantly by advances in the M2M market," said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. "This level of growth will be heavily dependent on the adoption of a common, global and interoperable SIM provisioning and management architecture that enables the M2M market to flourish. The specification released today will have a significant impact on the M2M marketplace, as it will help provide lower operational costs and drive economies of scale."

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