Paving the way for iSIM

17th December 2018
Alex Lynn

5G technology will be a springboard for cellular IoT development, and as embedded SIM (eSIM) continues to gain traction in mainstream markets, it is likely to pave the way for the introduction of iSIM as early as the first half of 2019. 

Author: Vincent Korstanje, Vice President and General Manager, Secure Identity Business, Arm.

Following the same standards and based on the same technology as eSIM, iSIM offers the benefit of having multiple subscriptions on one device and the ability to update profiles over the air (without the need for a physical SIM card change). It stands to free up area on silicon, reduce power usage, and thus further reduce costs and increase battery life. As Arm looks to accelerate iSIM, an important step in its adoption will be the broader deployment of eSIM across the supply chain.

Less than a year ago, Arm launched its portfolio of SIM solutions, the Arm Kigen family, at Mobile World Congress. Arm joined partners and the wider mobile industry at e-SIM Connect and European Utility Week to discuss the evolution of these critical technologies and some new partnerships that show the continued adoption of Kigen across the ecosystem. Arm is also celebrating a milestone, with the GSMA security accreditation for Subscription Management (SAS-SM) for Kigen remote server solutions.

At e-SIM Connect, mobile and IoT solutions provider Workz announced it is joining forces with Arm to deliver new M2M eSIM services through the Kigen product family. The collaboration will see Workz utilise both Arm eSIM and iSIM operating systems, as well as a flexible remote SIM provisioning platform that can be used by original equipment manufacturers, mobile network operators and IoT platform providers. This will allow Workz to offer customers complete control over the lifecycle of eSIM-enabled devices.

The Kigen solutions integrate seamlessly with a broad range of leading connectivity management platforms including the Arm Pelion IoT Platform, which is seeing continued traction in the enterprise market. For developers looking to integrate cellular connectivity into new products and bring these to market quickly, Hologram is now integrating Arm's Kigen product family to offer localised and future-proof network coverage on its global platform.

Hologram IoT SIMs already enable instantaneous access to global coverage; with Arm's eSIM and iSIM technology, developers using Hologram will have extended flexibility and reliability through multiple network operator profiles. It’s clear that from budding startups to established enterprise players, integrating Kigen technology is delivering secure cellular IoT connectivity at scale, and at a cost point that is sustainable for widespread adoption.

Meanwhile, in Austria at European Utility Week, Arm teamed up with the smart meter vendor Iskraemeco and Elatec CSS Group, who supply Kigen OS-based eSIM and iSIM products, to utilise eSIM to benefit smart meter applications. According to forecasts published by Machina Research, Europe’s connected energy market will be worth $26bn alone by 2026 with a potential 158 million new smart meters set to be installed across the continent.

Smart metering represents a huge opportunity for utility providers to add new revenue streams through new value add services such as real-time billing. It also opens up opportunities for MNOs to provide ‘connectivity only’ or end-to-end solutions, where they can facilitate integration of or provide back-end management, billing and remote cloud management systems.

Cellular technology provides the security, flexibility and reliability required for smart metering and eSIM technology has provided a fresh connectivity approach for these applications. With the Arm Kigen remote SIM provisioning (RSP) servers, operators can securely onboard (provision SIM profiles on) multiple smart meters over the air. Energy companies or smart meter operators can seamlessly download and swap the current cellular subscription with a new one allowing savings and long-term connectivity availability. 

Security continues to be a major pain point when it comes to the development of IoT and eSIM has provided the opportunity to combat concerns through cellular-grade identity which delivers higher security at lower cost. Arm is committed to continuing to evolve secure solutions across the ecosystem, as it recently laid out in the latest version of the Arm Security Manifesto, launched by CEO Simon Segars at Arm TechCon 2018.

Arm also announced that it has been awarded a security accreditation for Subscription Management (SAS-SM) for Kigen remote server solutions. The accreditation by the GSMA recognises the server solutions’ open source frameworks and technologies, designed to address demanding requirements. This accreditation follows a stringent audit process and demonstrates Arm’s security credentials in this area, as well as illustrating compliance with the relevant GSMA interoperability standards.

As Arm heads towards its vision of a trillion connected devices by 2035 and the advantages of eSIM and iSIM technology begin to be fully realised, robust implementations of these technologies such as Kigen will become fundamental in enabling, scaling and securing these devices. The news of partnerships with Workz, Hologram and Iskraemeco, and its GSMA accreditation, forms an important milestone in the journey to more widespread adoption of eSIM and iSIM across the ecosystem.

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