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eSIM or iSIM – which is best?

SIM innovations in the forms of embedded SIM (eSIM) and integrated SIM (iSIM) are moving IoT connectivity away from the traditional, plastic SIM and enabling SIM functionality to be integrated into IoT devices at the point of manufacture. The advantage is that IoT deployments can remove the cost of local administration of plastic SIMs and enable global products to be shipped using an eSIM or iSIM to bootstrap a connection at the point of deployment.

The sheer volume of SIMs involved in mass-scale IoT deployments and the differing requirements each puts on the network means one-size-fits-all connectivity is not practical. The range is enormous from very basic, low power, low data devices that simply ping the network to communicate that they are functioning on a sporadic basis to always-on mobile broadband devices that form mission critical functions.

With Berg Insight now projecting there will be 4.3 billion IoT devices connected to cellular networks worldwide by 2026, it’s clear that the days of shipping plastic SIMs to factories for installation in products are ending. Alternatives to conventional plastic SIMs open up the prospect of embedding or integrating SIM functionality that can be configured for the local markets in which they are deployed remotely. This means OEMs can make a single product version, with a single stock-keeping unit (SKU) number for the global market, rather than having multiple regional versions.

eSIM or iSIM? Understanding the applications to which they’re suited

As the market matures, costs associated with eSIM and iSIM will reduce and fewer traditional SIMs will be utilized. More than 14 billion eSIM devices will be shipped between 2021 and 2030, covering all form factors such as hardware-based eSIM, iSIM, nuSIM and Soft SIM, according to Counterpoint Research’s eSIM Devices Market Outlook report. eSIM uptake is poised to grow across a wide range of connected devices over the next decade, thanks to the flexibility, cost efficiency, security and other supply chain and management-related benefits offered by the embedded technology.

A recent Quectel Masterclass explored the maturing of eSIM and iSIM to demystify the technologies for IoT device developers and designers. The Masterclass, titled ‘How eSIM and iSIM can simplify and transform the IoT’, welcomed three speakers: Dominikus Hierl, the Senior Vice President of Sales for EMEA at Quectel, Richard Hart, Quectel’s Global Connectivity Director, and Matt Hatton, the Founding Partner of Transforma Insights. Hatton has recently conducted extensive research into the relative costs and benefits of iSIM and eSIM and shares his view of likely adoption rates and uptake drivers in the Masterclass.

Quectel Masterclass

The key themes of the session include what eSIM, iSIM and remote SIM provisioning (RSP) mean for device design and operation. These explanations help clarify the difference between each technology and the value they can add for device designers and developers. The session also assesses the lifetime costs for each technology. Today, eSIM and iSIM make most sense for multi-national, large-scale global deployments and traditional SIM is still appealing for localized, low volume use cases. However, as the technology matures it is expected that plastic SIM utilization will disappear completely.

Check out the Masterclass to understand the likely pace of SIM innovation and how it could transform the prospects of your IoT deployment. View the Masterclass here: