SGP.32: the new standard for remote SIM provisioning

28th February 2024
Kristian McCann

The new GSMA technical specification for remote SIM provisioning, SGP.32, shifts control of network profile downloads from networks to devices. It gives companies deploying Internet of Things (IoT) devices, particularly outside their domestic market, more control and simplifies interconnectivity arrangements that connectivity providers manage with mobile network operators. 

This article originally appeared in the Jan'24 magazine issue of Electronic Specifier Design – see ES's Magazine Archives for more featured publications.

The new standard is good for the IoT, because it is good for remote SIM provisioning, and that enables multi-region deployments.

What does remote SIM provisioning bring to the IoT?

When an IoT device connects to a cellular network through a traditional SIM card, its connectivity is locked into the mobile network operator (MNO) prescribed by the SIM, even when roaming is allowed. To change network provider, the operator would have to physically swap out the SIM card.

Remote SIM provisioning (RSP), through eSIM, iSIM, and the more autonomous multi-IMSI SIM, changes that. It creates a digital experience by enabling a SIM to be programmed over the air (OTA) to switch profile and, in the case of multi-region deployments, pick up local networks at local rates.

This means MNO profiles can be deployed as required – during device manufacture, when products go-live, or even years later. A non-traditional SIM, such as an eSIM, with RSP, supports single stock keeping units (SKUs) for IoT devices, which makes for streamlined manufacturing processes and cost control. 

Such are the compelling benefits of eSIM/ iSIM that IoT Analytics reports the market was poised to surpass 500 million units in 2023, and Kaleido Intelligence has forecast eSIM and iSIM connections will reach close to 4.5 billion in 2028, representing a 63% CAGR growth between 2023 and 2028.

What is SGP.32?

Earlier this year, the GSMA released the new technical standard for RSP. This converges the previously different consumer and machine-to-machine (M2M) approaches, for a single industry approach.

The specification, called SGP.32, is set to shake up RSP because it shifts control of network profile downloads away from networks into devices. Up until SGP.32, RSP involved a bootstrap profile that connects to a home network so the network can identify which profile to download. That has meant that MNOs and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) have had to maintain extensive interconnections for RSP, with the inherent costs and complexity those entail. 

SGP.32 still uses a bootstrap profile but puts more of the intelligence around operational profile selection into the SIM, with an IoT Profile Assistant (IPA) in the SIM, or on the device, which contacts a remote connectivity manager to kick off the chain of command to download the relevant profile.

What does SGP.32 mean for the IoT?

Device manufacturers, IoT solutions designers, and companies planning IoT deployments, particularly those designed to be multi-region, can prepare to reap the benefits of SGP.32, supported by their cellular connectivity provider.

RSP is good for the IoT because it enables multi-region deployments, and SGP.32 is good for RSP. The new standard gives companies deploying IoT devices more control. It simplifies the interconnection arrangements that connectivity providers must manage with MNOs and the way profile switching is achieved. That removes cost and should also help reduce time-to-market.

What are the benefits of remote SIM provisioning for global IoT?

For multi-region IoT deployments, RSP helps with total cost of ownership because devices can be reprogrammed to pick up local networks at local rates. That could be when devices are deployed in each market, or years later if new commercial options, or new operators, enter the market. 

RSP enables single SIMs for global deployments. That is particularly significant for manufacturing because it takes away the cost and complexity that an SKU per market adds to production, distribution, and logistics.

IoT installations are more flexible when connectivity isn’t tied into an MNO at the time the SIM is inserted into the device. RSP supports scalability and growth, as the same device stock can be used to move rapidly to take advantage of growth opportunities in a single market, or new market entry for international expansion.

With RSP and a single SIM, companies can also work with a single IoT connectivity provider, instead of managing arrangements themselves with multiple MNOs around the world.

SGP.32, together with RSP which enables OTA SIM programming, removes complexity to help the feasibility and scalability of international IoT programmes, and future-proof deployments over time. Device manufacturers, IoT companies and solutions designers planning IoT deployments, particularly those designed to be multi-region, should look to take advantage of RSP and should ask their connectivity provider how they are preparing for SGP.32.

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