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Dec, 10 2020

What is an eUICC and Why Does It Matter?

Quick definition: eUICC stands for Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card. It’s a component Subscriber Identity Modules can use to provision a new profile and switch Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) Over-the-Air (OTA). This technology has been a game changer for cellular IoT because it simplifies global deployment and mobile machine-to-machine applications.

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Instead of changing out SIM cards or installing different cards for different deployments, an eUICC gives consumers and manufacturers a means of changing providers. For consumers, the process is relatively low cost. But IoT manufacturers often need to invest tens of thousands of dollars to provision new SIM profiles OTA—because the new carrier has to integrate with your current carrier.

These high costs make reprovisioning with an eUICC highly situational for manufacturers. If your devices use large volumes of data, for example, it could be cost prohibitive to pay roaming rates, so switching to a local carrier will save more over time.

While eUICCs are often called eSIMs (Embedded Subscriber Identity Module), eSIMs can also refer to a specific SIM form factor—the MFF2, which is the only embeddable form of the module. An eUICC is an embedded component, but it’s not a SIM form factor. And it’s actually compatible with any form factor. (The SIM form factor is basically just the packaging on a SIM.).

SIM FF-28

Benefits of an Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card

Installing an eUICC on your device gives your application several major advantages. They all come from the eUICC’s ability to store multiple Mobile Network Operator (MNO) profiles and switch between them remotely.

Here’s how that works and what it means for your business.

Multiple MNO profiles on a single SIM

The eUICC is not a hardware concept; it is a feature concept for the way SIM profiles are managed. A traditional UICC contains a single MNO profile, which usually has 64KB or 128KB of memory. An eUICC can host multiple profiles and requires a minimum memory of 512KB.

Classical SIM vs eUICC-27

The profile includes the information the MNO needs to enable connectivity. Traditionally, these profiles are locked to the SIM—meaning if you change operators, you need to replace the SIM. 

Not only can eUICC’s host multiple provider profiles, but they can be programmed to use a specific profile or change profiles at any time without the need for physical replacement. This empowers you to make the best connectivity choice for you and your business at any time, without the logistical task and expense of physically replacing your SIM.

A single SIM works for every deployment

For M2M deployments where devices are distributed globally and in remote locations, coordinating the correct installation of the SIM at the correct time can pose logistical nightmares. Installing a SIM with an eUICC during the manufacturing stage also saves costs on production and distribution as well as inventory as you only require a single SKU.

Switching MNOs with an eUICC

In the last 20 years of GSM connectivity, there has never been a development like this. The eUICC has been dubbed the next evolution of the SIM because it enables users to change provider profiles OTA, revolutionizing the way SIM cards connect globally. 

But there’s still one major consideration you need to keep in mind when initiating an eUICC deployment: your plan for switching MNOs.

An eUICC makes it possible to change MNOs remotely. But it’s really only convenient for consumers. For M2M manufacturers, it’s both expensive and difficult to reintegrate your service profile and associated rules and controls into a new MNOs infrastructure. 

Your connectivity management, billing, and provisioning systems all depend on your service profile and these established rules and controls. It’s these dependencies and the potential interruption to them in the event of changing your MNO that you need to plan for when initiating an eUICC deployment.

When selecting a SIM provider and connectivity platform, you need to understand how they will aid the potential switching process and affect your systems. 

The following questions can help you preempt any issues with the controls your connectivity system depends on:

  • Will your connectivity provider enable you to connect globally, or will you require multiple service contracts with MNOs?
  • If you need to switch the MNO for a specific SIM/device, what other aspects of your connectivity system will change? What is the process of integrating your service profile into the new MNO’s infrastructure?
  • What external connections may be interrupted as a result of switching? For example, will there be changes to your addressing settings (IP address, phone number), and how will this affect the services that connect to your devices?

Prepare your IoT business for success

As a business connecting M2M devices globally via a cellular solution, it’s important to understand the eUICC. You need to enable devices to connect instantly and adapt connectivity on the go.

However, as we have also discussed, you need to understand how your connectivity platform will cope with changing your MNO. To get the most out of your connected devices, you need to know what systems could be hindered, for how long, and what process you can take initially to prevent interruptions to these dependencies.

At EMnify we enable manufacturers to build truly global IoT devices. If you have any questions relating to eUICCs and the best platform for enabling this technology, our team is always happy to help and offer advice.

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