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#Connectivity & IoT

A new specification for remote SIM provisioning

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In an increasingly interconnected world, existing specifications are no longer sufficient to support the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT). The new GSMA SGP.32 remote provisioning specification is set to change that.

The IoT era is here, with billions of interconnected IoT devices already in use around the globe. And that number is set to grow – an estimated 34 billion connected devices will be in circulation by 2028.1 Despite this huge figure, the IoT landscape is a fragmented space. 

From a lack of interoperability between devices and networks to operational complexities in managing and scaling large fleets, the IoT industry faces several challenges that prohibit seamless connectivity and hinder the full realization of IoT’s potential. 

A person using the multimedia system of a car

Cellular connectivity driving IoT adoption

Developments in cellular connectivity, driven by the emergence of eSIM and iSIM technology, have sought to alleviate many of those challenges. 

Cellular connectivity can be a catalyst for growth in IoT, enabling a wide range of benefits compared with alternative connectivity solutions, such as unlicensed LoRaWAN or Sigfox solutions, or short-range options such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. These benefits include: 

  • Broader coverage: Cellular networks provide wider coverage, particularly in urban areas, enabling more reliable transmission of data for IoT applications. 
  • Better security: Cellular connections enhance IoT security with more robust protocols and reliable device identification, which protects data and prevents unauthorized access.
  • Greater flexibility: With cellular connectivity, it’s easier to add new devices anywhere within a network’s reach, without the need for local internet infrastructure. 
  • Simplified deployment: Deploying IoT devices with cellular connectivity avoids the complexities of setting up and maintaining local networks. 
  • Remote SIM provisioning: eSIM and iSIM technology enable the remote provisioning and management of devices, reducing logistical challenges and improving interoperability.
  • Simplified inventory: eSIM and iSIM technology enable standardized device models across regions, significantly reducing the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) and simplifying inventory management.

While the benefits of eSIM- and iSIM-based connectivity are clear, and eSIM adoption has been particularly successful in consumer markets – such as connected vehicles, wearables, and smartphones – they have yet to have the desired impact at the massive IoT level. 

Why is this the case?

One of the main reasons is the limitations of existing GSMA SGP.02 and SGP.22 specifications when it comes to addressing the expansive needs of massive IoT deployments. 

Until now, the two specifications have catered to two distinctly different segments of the IoT market. SGP.22 is aimed at consumer devices such as smartphones and wearables. These devices typically have a user interface and rely on a “pull” mechanism for eSIM management. This model allows end-users to initiate and control eSIM profile downloads and swaps, usually via a user-friendly interface.

Meanwhile, SGP.02 is designed for machine-to-machine (M2M)/IoT applications and devices that often lack a traditional user interface – often referred to as “headless” devices. These devices, such as industrial sensors or smart meters, operate autonomously and require a “push” mechanism, where configuration and profile updates are triggered by a central management system. However, due to its reliance on SMS-based communication, SGP.02 is unable to support all the high-speed, high-efficiency demands of an increasingly connected IoT ecosystem. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to – thanks to the new SGP.32 specification.

Infographic discussing SGP.32 specifications

SGP.32: the next evolution in IoT

SGP.32 is a new remote provisioning specification that was released by the GSMA in May 2023. Technologically, it is not too different from the SGP.22 consumer specification; however, from a deployment perspective it is designed for headless M2M/IoT applications. 

The new specification facilitates the remote loading, activation, and management of eSIM subscriptions for IoT devices in the field. Moving away from the SMS-based communication of its predecessor, SGP.32 employs a faster, more reliable IP-based protocol. This shift enhances the efficiency of managing IoT devices and provides a more flexible approach to cellular connectivity management across the device’s life cycle. The new specification also has the potential to drastically reduce operational costs and enable rapid scaling across different regions, bolstered by the integration of globally pre-connected stock-keeping units (SKUs), which streamline the deployment process for a vast range of IoT devices. 

All of this is managed on a central management platform, such as G+D’s AirOn360® IoT Suite, an all-in-one solution that streamlines the RSP of SIM profiles, regardless of device type, region, and network. This increased interoperability between devices and networks will eliminate many of the logistical challenges associated with managing large IoT fleets; it can also be a significant catalyst for growth in the future.

But what does the emergence of SGP.32 mean for older devices compliant with previous specifications? In short: nothing. 

The AirOn360® IoT Suite supports all GSMA specifications – not just the new SGP.32 – meaning that both consumer and M2M/IoT devices can be managed within the same suite. This is especially valuable for companies who already have existing device fleets operating on the SGP.02 specification – for example, a smart meter company. Rather than having to replace all their existing devices with newer ones operating on SGP.32 – a costly and resource-heavy undertaking – they can manage both simultaneously on a single platform. That way they can upgrade their fleet and transition to SGP.32-compatible devices over time, based on operational needs, rather than on regulatory or technological necessity.

And as more and more compatible devices are released, organizations will have more flexibility of choice for their IoT deployments, in terms of both compatible devices and eSIM profiles. This puts organizations in a better position to find the most suitable connectivity solutions for their needs, further driving the advancement and applicability of IoT across industries.

How to get ready for SGP.32?

The introduction of SGP.32 is more than just an incremental update – it can be the missing piece that finally drives growth in the massive IoT landscape. Remote SIM provisioning will empower organizations, particularly those with global fleets, to scale and diversify their IoT deployments without being hindered by the logistical complexities and limitations of previous M2M/IoT specifications. 

However, patience and planning is required. Although SGP.32 is now ready for implementation, full adoption may take time as organizations adapt their existing systems and inventories to the new specification. Those hoping to maximize the potential of SGP.32 should not hesitate to partner with an experienced IoT connectivity provider. 

With our fully integrated suite of services that includes eSIM and iSIM connectivity solutions and the all-in-one IoT connectivity management platform – AirOn360® IoT Suite – G+D is uniquely positioned to support organizations with a seamless, end-to-end solution for managing and scaling IoT deployments. 

Together with Sony SI, G+D is also the first provider to launch a commercial iSIM solution that supports remote SIM provisioning. The iSIM, which is fully compatible with SGP.32, has a smaller footprint and greater power efficiency compared with traditional SIM technologies, without compromising on security. Together with eSIM, it will drive IoT adoption in the coming years, bringing the vision of a fully connected globe closer to reality.

“The new SGP.32 specification will help the IoT industry take a big leap forward. It simplifies large-scale IoT deployments, making remote device management more seamless than ever.“
Bernd Müller
Head of Connectivity and IoT Portfolio Strategy at G+D

Key takeaways

  1. The new SGP.32 remote provisioning specification, designed for headless M2M/IoT devices, enables greater flexibility and scalability than previous specifications.
  2. Central management platforms such as G+D’s AirOn360® IoT Suite makes it easier for MNOs and OEMs to manage SIM profiles in large IoT fleets. 
  3. SGP.32 will operate alongside SGP.22 and SGP.02, rather than replacing them.
  1. IoT Forecast, GSMA, 2023

Published: 23/02/2024

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