On Demand Connectivity: Simplifying the Industrial Internet of Things

Juan Carlos Lazcano, Vice President of M2M
Gemalto, North American

The industrial sector is exploding with new connected technologies that are improving the way business is done. Advanced fleet management solutions, connected vehicles and equipment, smart building management systems and wearable lone worker tracking devices are being deployed across a wide variety of vertical markets. A report from Business Insider estimates that the Internet of Things (IoT) will soon be the largest device market in the world -more than double the size of the smartphone, PC, tablet, connected car and the wearable markets combined1.

The rise of smart industrial solutions is helping enterprises gain a competitive edge in today’s demanding business environment.Its also an important growth sector for Mobile Network Operators who like Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions for their economical use of bandwidth and extremely low churn rates. On Demand Connectivity (ODC) solutions and services hold an important key to simplifying the complexities of Machine-to-Machine (M2M) design and development, and overcoming a major hurdle to IIoT deployment.

Examining the Unique Challenges of M2M Connectivity, the Engine Behind the IoT
Examining the unique challenges of M2M uncovers that there are different design and connectivity requirements compared to consumer devices, especially when it comes to durability, longevity and global reach. For instance, M2M devices require ruggedized components that are engineered to withstand extreme temperatures, vibration and harsh environmental conditions. They also need to operate reliably for more than 10 years, six to eight years longer than your typical consumer wireless product. And for global enterprises, they need to have certified devices that operate reliably on multiple wireless networks.

Pod_m2mEvery device or machine that connects to a wireless mobile network requires a UICC card, also known as a SIM or MIM card (Machine Identification Module), to authenticate and identify the IoT device to a specific carrier network. These components also encrypt communications and provision or turn on wireless service. Traditionally, SIM and MIM cards were specific to one mobile network and in order to activate or update service plans, a new card would be installed in the device. Plugging in a SIM card to activate service is a widely understood concept for most people who use a cell phone or wireless device. However, this poses a huge challenge for the majority of M2M and IoT devices where updates are not easy.

For example, fleet management devices need to operate for the life of the vehicle and they are typically installed under the dash or in hard to reach areas. When vehicles and equipment are sold or moved to a new area, more often than not, wireless service plans need to be updated by a trained technician, which requires a costly and time-consuming service visit.

In some cases, M2M technology needs to be encapsulated and sealed to remain water- and dust-resistant as well as protected from excessive temperature, vibration and shock. Opening a sealed device like a smart meter under glass in order to update a UICC card diminishes the integrity of the device and leads to warranty issues.

Things get even more complicated when M2M components need to be soldered into place during mass manufacturing. This practice increases the durability of the device, but until recently, it also irrevocably links the device to one specific carrier before it leaves the factory. This is difficult for global enterprises that need to deploy solutions across many different mobile networks because it requires a specific product variant for each carrier the inventory and distribution logistics are enormously costly and complicated. The same is true for solutions that offer connectivity as a bundled part of the solution.

New Industry Standard Paves the Way for On Demand Connectivity
Until recently, the lack of flexibility in M2M and IoT cellular connectivity has been a longtime bottleneck to deploying IoT solutions.To address this challenge, the GSMA collaborated with industry leaders to define specifications for a new remote provisioning standard that leverages a single universal UICC (SIM card) as a stock unit. Keeping security paramount, the UICC starts out as an MNO-independent component that is securely configured Over-The-Air (OTA) for any MNO subscription profile at the time of deployment. The new standard defines an advanced subscription management system with siloed security domains within the UICC to ensure a secure OTA process. The fully automated process identifies the embedded UICC and the enterprise operating it before the MNO profile can be downloaded and activated.

How On-Demand Connectivity Works
On-Demand Connectivity (ODC) solutions vary depending on MNO needs and solution provider. Many start by leveraging secure bootstrap connectivity to facilitate the initial MNO profile download to a carrier agnostic SIM card. Referred to as On Demand Provisioning Service (OPS), this step allows the initial carrier download to occur anytime and anywhere in the world. After the preferred MNO subscription profile and security credentials have been downloaded, the solution follows the GSMA protocol for seamlessly handing off services to the MNO. From that moment on, the device operates the same as any other MNO-specific device. In addition to first time service provisioning, On-Demand Subscription Manager (OSM) solutions provide MNOs and service providers with secure subscription updates and management throughout the long life span of M2M devices, even if the solution moves across country borders and needs to operate on a different network. For M2M solutions that need to operate for a decade or more, OTA service updates are essential. ODC solutions provide the opportunity for the entire M2M value chain to overcome traditional challenges, create new revenue streams and greatly speed and simplify deployment.

The Benefits of ODC
In an increasingly connected world, it is vital to remove barriers for growth and new On-Demand Connectivity solutions accomplish this for participants across the IoT ecosystem. MNOs are better able to satisfy growing demands for network connectivity while reducing direct and indirect costs associated with SIM card inventory and distribution. It also allows them to focus more attention on their core competency expanding great service offerings to customers. For developers and service providers, distribution logistics are greatly simplified eliminating the need to ship MNO or regional-specific variants to end users. Manufacturing is streamlined and more cost effective with one solution produced for all customers and MNOs, which also provides improved reliability, quality and durability from embedded or soldered components. Finally, end users receive faster service and support and increased flexibility to add new devices and IoT solutions to existing service contracts.

On-Demand Connectivity is revolutionizing the IoT landscape during a period of rapid growth. By simplifying and streamlining design, development, manufacturing and service provisioning on one embedded UICC, the M2M marketplace can reach its full potential free from long term connectivity roadblocks.


For more information visit www.gemalto.com

Comments are closed.