An embedded universal integrated circuit card (eUICC) allows devices to swap SIM subscriber profiles over the air. With a single physical SIM, either triple-cut or embedded, a device can load one carrier profile and then swap to another carrier profile at a later date.
If you’re used to removing and inserting physical SIM cards every time your devices need new profiles, adding this technology to your IoT devices could simplify your operations in mind-blowing ways. While embedded SIM (eSIM) gets a lot of attention, it’s worth noting that eUICC software can live on a physical SIM, too. If you have an existing fleet of IoT devices with slots for physical SIMs, switching to eUICC-enabled cards can offer similar benefits without a complete product overhaul.
But if you’re still in the design stage, building with eUICC-enabled eSIMs — tiny SIM hardware soldered directly to the device’s motherboard — might be the best option, depending on your use case.
Either way, incorporating eUICC yields many benefits for your IoT deployment. Here are five:
A single SIM works for multiple deployments anywhere in the world
With a traditional SIM model, IoT project managers need to anticipate where the devices will end up so they can purchase and install SIM cards with carrier profiles needed to operate in those regions. This can cause delays and complications in your supply chain as different SIM cards add more moving parts to your manufacturing and device assembly process. With eUICC, you only need one card (or one eSIM soldered into the device at manufacture) for every global deployment. Once the devices are dispersed in the field, you can use OTA provisioning to set them up with the best carrier profiles to serve their connectivity needs.
Update your SIM profiles as needed, even after they’re deployed
With centralized profile management, you can also store multiple profiles on a single eUICC-enabled card or eSIM. Some IoT use cases, such as asset tracking and shipping monitors, move from region to region after they're deployed. If that's the case for your devices, you can preload them with the profiles they will need as they move from one continent to another. It's like having a passport filled with visas to enter all the countries you'll visit on an international trip.
But what happens when a device is recalled from the field and redeployed in another region? Or when IoT sensors on shipping containers are rerouted through an unanticipated region? In situations like these, or in cases where you've switched service providers, eUICC enables you to add, delete, and manage profiles remotely. Device firmware also downloads OTA, meaning eUICC-equipped devices are self-improving and prepared for network sunsets and other changes.
Spend less and get more tailored coverage on your data connectivity plan
Data connectivity can be a significant expense for IoT projects, especially those that scale to thousands or tens of thousands of devices. Since every deployment and use case is a little different, there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all data plan that’s cost-effective for everyone. Because eUICC allows individual devices to receive customized SIM profiles based on their regional needs, providers can tailor pricing and coverage to meet your business goals. The ability to get customized pricing, along with the ease of having a single SKU for all your SIM cards or eSIM hardware, can result in significant cost savings over time.
Let your provider handle carrier negotiations while you focus on deployment
Negotiating with carriers about coverage, data costs, and profile flexibility can be time-consuming—and integrating your hardware with theirs is another potential hurdle. But there’s an easier way: partner with a carrier-agnostic provider and let them handle the haggling. You’ll benefit from their efforts to expand direct carrier relationships around the world. At Hologram, we’re constantly onboarding new carriers and networks to optimize connectivity options for our customers’ devices.
All this flexibility allows you to scale quickly
You’ve prototyped and tested an IoT device for the container shipping industry, and you're ready for rollout. You have significant buy-in from customers and are ready to scale to 10,000 devices that will be deployed around the world—and you need to do it quickly. If you use a traditional SIM model, you'll need to find out where each device is headed so you can order the right SIM card for it. After the devices are manufactured, you'll have to ensure the correct cards are installed and shipped to the corresponding customers. These steps add several links to your supply chain and can significantly slow down time to market.
But if you choose eUICC, you won’t need to juggle physical SIM cards in your supply chain or pre-ordain which devices are shipped to certain areas. Removing the additional steps allows for faster scalability and fewer opportunities for error. (If everyone is getting the same eUICC-enabled SIM, the possibility of shipping the wrong card to the wrong customer is eliminated.)
Considering a migration to eUICC? Here are some next steps
First, talk to your sales team and brainstorm how your new or existing product might make the transition. While eUICC is a great opportunity for many IoT deployments and will continue to gain ground in the future, there are plenty of use cases where a traditional SIM remains the best and most practical choice. To find out where your project falls on the spectrum, start with self-evaluation. Here are some important questions to ask:
- Would the ability to provision devices over the air (OTA) make a significant impact on efficiency and costs?
- Does your existing hardware (cellular module) support eUICC?
- Does cellular coverage in your target deployment areas support eUICC?
- What are the regulations for hosting a subscription management platform or data center in the countries where your devices are deployed? (Some countries require data to be hosted within their borders, creating additional expense for international deployments.)
If you’re ready to proceed but not sure if your existing devices have eUICC-capable hardware, we’ll send you a Hologram eUICC SIM so our team can test your hardware’s compatibility with our platform.