what is esim

What is eSIM and how it works?

ESIM stands for embedded sim. It is also called eUICC (embedded Universal Circuit Card).The new Iphone models  includes eSIM support as a substitute for a second SIM. The regular SIM, is a small external electronic chip which stores the subscription profile for a mobile subscriber.  Profile includes IMSI, ICCID, authentication information  etc. eSIM is similar to SIM functionally, but a embedded chip inside the device, which is re-writable by the mobile operator. When a mobile user changes service provider, there is no need to buy a new sim card, the subscription will be written , by the new mobile operator over the air. To support eSIM functionality , the mobile operator should also support for provisioning over the air. 

Advantages of eSIM:

  1. No need to change the sim card , for a new mobile operator.
  2. MVNO can provide low cost roaming in all countries.
  3. No need to cut the sim card for fix the sim size as per slots in handset.
  4. Subscriber do not worry about the damage of sim card. The phones are mostly water proof. So if sim is inside phone , no need to worry from external damage.
  5. A mobile operator do not need to manufacture so many sim cards.  This reduces the cost of manufacturing and distribution. 
  6. No need to wait for the new sim card to switch the mobile operator.

Above we have talked about the many advantages of new technology. But there is a disadvantage too.  Only few supports eSIM. Because of this device manufactures needs to support both the sim types.

M2M and IoT advantages with eSIM:

M2M and IoT are two new concepts for connected devices.  You might know that new gadgets are coming with IoT features. What are these features do for you ? A car with vehicle  tracking system is an example of IoT. For tracking, devices reads the data for positioning. This could be from GPS or from the cell of a mobile network. Devices pushes the data to the server. On server , an application can get the tracking information.  For data device should have a sim card.

If the device have normal sim card, then a device should be updated manually , if tracing service provider , want to change the mobile operator. Change may be because of costly or poor services or have no coverage in some area.  If device have eSIM, service provider can change sim information over the air. This encourages  iot and m2m devices to use eSIM.

MVNOs and eSIM:

MVNO or Mobile Virtual Network Operator is similar to a regular mobile network operator. But do not have spectrum license , so will not have mobile towers.  With the advantage of multi imsi sim cards, mvnos take advantage of low cost roaming across the glob.  When a subscriber moves to a new location/country, the local imsi of that country/location gets activate.  Which makes subscriber local, so no high roaming cost.  For an example if an UK based MVNO is providing low cost roaming for India. Then sim card will have IMSI from an Indian mobile operator along with uk IMSI and other IMSIs.  When subscriber moves to India , the Indian IMSI will get active and sim will be local to India. Results in low cost calls and other services.

The problem with SIM for MVNO is the number of IMSIs a sim can have. Limits the low cost roaming to fewer countries only. With the eSIM, IMSIs are configured over the air (no limitation on number of IMSIs).  Enables roaming in all countries.

How subscriber activates new sim details?

After eSIM switching to new mobile operator is different than regular SIM. First a subscriber needs to check for esim support in a mobile network. If operator have support, then subscriber can install an app or can buy a card from store with bar code. New profile in eSIM can be activated from mobile app or via scanning bar code.


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