Remote SIM provisioning
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Remote SIM provisioning is a specification realized by GSMA that allows consumers to remotely activate the subscriber identity module (SIM) embedded in a portable device such as a smart phone, smart watch, fitness band or tablet computer. The specification was originally part of the GSMA's work on eSIM and it is important to note that Remote SIM provisioning is just one of the aspects that this eSIM specification includes. The other aspects being that the SIM is now structured into "domains" that separate the operator profile, from the security and application "domains". Another important aspect is that the eSIM is owned by the enterprise, and this means that the enterprise now has full control of the security and applications in the eSIM, and which operators profiles are to be used.
Background to the specification
In the background of the technology looked to address the following issues:
- The development of non-removable SIM technology - a new generation of SIM-cards like MFF which are soldered into the device.
- The appearance and support by mobile operators of the concept of ABC (always best connected) – the opportunity get quality connections from any mobile operator at any point in time.
- The explosive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) - according to Gartner about 8.4 billion connections in 2017 (up 31% from 2016).
- The cost and effort required to swap a SIM in a device that has been deployed in the field.
The GSM Association (GSMA) which brings together about 800 operators and 250 mobile ecosystem companies became the first to come up with the Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning initiative. The beginning of creation the technology was announced in the summer 2014. The complete version of the specification was realized in February, 2016. Initially, the specification was supposed to be used just by m2m devices, but since December, 2015 it has begun being spread over various custom wearable devices, and into enterprise applications like authentication and identity management.
"This new specification gives consumers the freedom to remotely connect devices, such as wearables, to a mobile network of their choice and continues to evolve the process of connecting new and innovative devices," Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA.
Besides, the right of independent service providers to transmit commands of loading profiles to SIM-cards in the device has been amended and the possibility to store arrays of profiles in independent certified data centers (Subscriptions manager) has appeared.
Functions and benefits
The specification that covers the carrier selection aspects aims to allow consumers to choose a mobile network operator from a wide range to activate the SIM embedded in a device via a subscription. It aims to simplify the users’ life by connecting their multiple devices through the same subscription. It should also motivate mobile device manufacturers to develop the next generation of the mobile-connected devices that will suit better the wearable technology applications. The specification that covers the carrier selection for M2M devices is simpler since typically there is no subscriber involved (e.g. changing the operator in an electricity meter).
The language that is used to describe these specification is little confusing since eSIM is not a physical format (or "form factor" - the phrase that is used to describe the various SIM sizes). The eSIM describes the functionality in the SIM, not the physical size of the SIM - and there are eSIMs in many formats (2FF, 3FF, 4FF, MFF).
GSMA have also developed a compliance framework for eSIM devices, eUICCs, and subscription management products - to help with interoperability and security for products supporting eSIM. This is published by the GSMA as SGP.24, the eSIM compliance process describes common compliance requirements for:
- Functional interoperability
- eUICC security
- eUICC production site security
- Subscription Management site security
- GSMA releases remote provisioning specification to help consumers connect mobile devices http://www.gsma.com/rsp/
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- "BTG E-SIM project enters next phase - BTG". BTG (in Dutch). 2016-06-14. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
- "GSMA Remote Provisioning Release".
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- "GSMA SGP 24".