New embedded SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) technology could play a major role in accelerating the development and adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) applications in the energy sector such as smart metering, demand response, energy data management and distributed resource management, says analyst firm Beecham Research. This follows the recent publication of a new report on the Embedded SIM specification by the GSMA the telecoms industry body that represents nearly 800 mobile operators.
“The traditional removable SIM card found in mobile handsets is not suited for the IoT market and particularly not for applications like smart metering,” said Robin Duke-Woolley, CEO at Beecham Research. “Instead, the cellular IoT industry has moved towards a new approach with the eUICC (embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card), which is integrated as an electronic component on the devices circuit board as part of the manufacturing process. This improves reliability, flexibility, security and trust, while reducing cost and complexity and reducing commercial risk.”
The report, ‘Benefits of GSMA Embedded SIM Specification for the Utilities Sector’ published by the GSMA in association with ESMIG and SIMAlliance and written by Beecham Research, highlights the benefits of the GSMA Embedded SIM Specification and potential impact on the utilities sector. Five important utility use cases were investigated, identifying 14 significant benefits for utilities. These are explored under four key headings improving reliability and reducing site visits, improving security and trust, reducing cost and complexity, and reducing commercial risk and increasing commercial flexibility. For the first time, some of these benefits have also been quantified. The specification has already been introduced into the automotive and other sectors and over 20 mobile operators worldwide have launched commercial solutions.
“Our study of the utility use cases included smart metering, demand response, energy data management and distributed energy resource management. These are all of great interest to utilities who face increasing pressures to balance electricity supply and demand,” said Duke-Woolley. “As well as increased reliability to reduce site visits, the embedded SIM approach allows over-the-air management of operator subscription profiles without the need for a physical change of SIM, for example, solving the problem of operator lock-in. With the protection of critical infrastructure and data another major issue for energy companies, the GSMA eUICC spec also has proven security features and is tamper resistant.”
The IoT market in the utilities sector is set to grow at a fast pace over the next decade, with an ever-growing number and diversity of devices and applications requiring communications capability. Furthermore, as national governments take a closer look at communications networks to support critical infrastructure it is likely that there will be new regulatory issues that require network updates. With remote access and management, the GSMA Embedded SIM Specification provides a system that caters for these new requirements at lowest cost.
“The energy market is undergoing a period of disruption, with significant transformations in the way electricity is generated, distributed, stored and marketed, combined with mounting pressures to monitor and automate more elements of the networks to reduce fault times and balance rapidly changing demand and supply,” said Duke-Woolley.
While the IoT will play a major role in addressing these issues we found that awareness of mobile IoT technologies and their benefits was still generally low among utilities. This latest report provides a detailed insight into the benefits of embedded SIMs, which will increasingly play a major part in future development of the IoT.