What is an eSIM and how will it change connected devices for the better?

eSIM was one of the hottest topics in the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona 2017. But what is this new trend and is it time to embrace it? eSIM stands for “embedded SIM” also known as eUICC. The term relates to a new standard introduced in 2013 and GSMA promoted it since then.

Today mobile phones use a plastic SIM card for identification and connect to operators’ networks. SIM is an acronym for “Subscriber Identity Module”. It contains a unique reference number for your account so that your mobile service provider knows whom to charge and level of access you can give. But, this number is preset and can’t be changed (at least easily).

What is eSIM?

As mentioned earlier, eSIM isn’t a brand-new technology. In fact, its roots return to GSMA (GSM Alliance) efforts in exploring the possibilities for software-based SIM cards as early as 2010. eSIM works just like the plastic SIM card but in the form of an integrated SIM chip. This chip is smaller than a nanoSIM, so can be used in a broad variety of devices that have size limitations. That’s why consumer electronics manufacturers are also keen to adopt it as a proper solution for connected devices across your house as part of the IoT. Those Benefits aren’t disregarded by automotive manufacturers too.

The main advantage of eSIM is its flexibility. If you for any reason decide to change your operator or travel to another country, there will be no need to physically replace your SIM card to use new operator’s services. All the switching works will be done by a simple phone call and remotely through a process called “Remote SIM Provisioning” (RSP) on your device’s eSIM.

Future of eSIM

Many believe that eSIM will eventually be integrated into all smartphones. That said, its prospect is far beyond just including smartphones.

Effects of using eSIM can be scrutinized from two aspects. First, its influence on existing connected devices. The most apparent benefit of eSIM is that eliminates the hassles of using a SIM card and replacing it when traveling, switching operators or buying a new smartphone. At the same time, its smaller size let manufacturers design smaller products or use freed up space for other purposes (for example, you won’t have to choose between installing a second SIM card or a memory card anymore).

But the second aspect of eSIM’s benefits is the outlook that it creates for new breeds of future products. Small size and remote manageability are two feature that let a lot of more manufacturers to integrate mobile connection in their products, without worrying about product size or finding some way to implement a slot for SIM card.

In the end, there’s no doubt that eSIM is a valuable and viable upgrade for today’s plastic SIM cards. But the key point is that you can take advantage of these benefits just if your operator supports eSIM.