June 18, 2024

The Future is Embedded: Understanding the Rise of eSIM Technology

What is an embedded SIM?

An embedded SIM is an eSIM —or embedded subscriber identity module. Unlike a physical SIM card, an embedded SIM is embedded directly into the circuit board of a device like a smartphone or tablet. With an embedded SIM, the cellular connectivity and carrier information is stored digitally rather than on a physical SIM chip.

How Does an embedded SIM Work?

An embedded eSIM contains an integrated chip that securely stores your cellular profile and connects your device to your selected cellular network. When setting up an embedded SIM-enabled device, you can download your carrier profile directly from your network provider via an app or webpage. This transfers your phone number and plan details directly to the embedded SIM, activating service on your device. After activation, your embedded SIM works just like a regular SIM to maintain your network connection. embedded SIMs can be upgraded remotely over the air as well, allowing you to easily change carriers or plans without needing a physical SIM swap.

Benefits of embedded SIM Technology

There are several key benefits that embedded SIM technology provides over traditional SIM cards:

Remote Activation and Management

As embedded SIM profiles are downloaded digitally, it allows for remote device activation without needing to visit a carrier store. Users can easily switch providers or plans from home. Carriers can also remotely manage embedded SIM profiles for things like updating plans or troubleshooting connectivity issues.

Dual SIM and Multi-IMSI Capabilities

With embedded SIMs, devices can have multiple integrated profiles allowing dual SIM functionality without the need for a physical SIM slot. This enables features like personal and business lines on the same device. embedded SIMs also enable global roaming by easily switching to local plans when traveling abroad.

Internet of Things Connectivity

embedded SIMs are particularly useful for connecting the growing number of IoT devices to cellular networks. Built-in embedded SIMs allow for remote provisioning and remote enablement of connected devices like smartwatches, trackers and utility meters without physically accessing each device.

Streamlined Device Design

Not requiring a physical SIM card slot frees up internal space in devices. Manufacturers can build slimmer and more water/dust resistant gadgets. Devices can have all-screen, edge-to-edge displays without the interruption of a SIM tray.

Security and Anti-fraud Measures

eSIM profiles are encrypted for extra security compared to physical SIM cards which can sometimes be cloned or have their Info accessed. Embedded SIM provisioning also enables two-factor authentication for activation to help prevent fraudulent use of lost or stolen devices.

Widespread embedded SIM Adoption

Recognizing these benefits, most major smartphone manufactures have added embedded SIM capabilities to recent flagship models. Apple was one of the first mainstream companies to incorporate embedded SIM tech with the Apple Watch in 2015. More recent examples include the iPhone XS/XR, Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy S10/Note 10 series. As more carriers support embedded SIM profiles as well, virtual SIM adoption continues trending up across industries.

Challenges Facing embedded SIM Growth

While embedded SIMs provide clear benefits, their adoption faces some hurdles:

Carrier Support – embedded SIM requires carrier support networks to enable remote profile activation and management. Currently, support is limited among some regional prepaid carriers. As networks upgrade, support should expand.

Backwards Compatibility – Legacy devices without embedded SIM hardware must still use physical SIM cards. A transition period is needed as users replace older gadgets.

Lack of Standardization – Currently two competing embedded SIM standards exist between GSMA and IEC. Global standardization could make embedded SIM adoption smoother long-term.

Profile Management – Many users find managing embedded SIM profiles across multiple devices more complex than SIM swaps. Carriers need easy-to-use profile transfer tools.

The Future is embedded SIM

As carriers continue building out embedded SIM support networks and more gadgets adopt embedded SIM technology, use of virtual SIM profiles will only accelerate in the coming years. eSIM streamlines device design and connectivity management while enhancing features like dual-SIM use and IoT integration. While adoption hurdles remain short-term, the convenience and security advantages ensure embedded SIM is the future of cellular connectivity. As standards solidify and carriers optimize embedded SIM tools, activated virtual profiles will ultimately surpass physical SIM cards worldwide. The embedded SIM future is coming fast, promising network flexibility and innovation across a vast range of connected products.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public Source, Desk Research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.