The iSIM, also known as the iUICC, is an isolated hardware component or tamper-resistant element (TRE) that is physically incorporated onto a system-on-a-chip. This is a single module that incorporates CPUs, memory, and in some cases even wireless transceivers. It is the heart of many connected devices. As a result, security-critical code and data are still processed in an independent secure hardware unit, but at a much smaller size than an eSIM. It is therefore possible to retain the security advantages of an eSIM while saving space on the device’s circuit board. The iUICC has the potential to completely revolutionize the connected device and technology market as it offers substantial efficiencies and improvements over previous generations of SIMs. It has been designed specifically for power optimization as it is needed for long lasting Cat-M or Narrowband-IoT devices. As the iUICC combines the SIM and the baseband module in a single module, it enables production and supply chain processes to be simplified. It is also much more sustainable, as it requires fewer materials, including plastic. All this means it reduces overall costs.
Integrated SIM – from hype to realization
The integrated SIM (iSIM) or integrated Universal Integrated Circuit Card (iUICC) is the next stage in SIM technology. Traditional SIM cards are removable chips set into plastic surrounds, and eSIMs are dedicated embedded chips on your device’s circuit board. However, the iUICC takes this technology to an entirely new level.
The iUICC is now commercially available and is already triggering significant change in the field of NB-IoT. However, it’s important to remember that the technology is still in its infancy. The industry is working towards creating a standard definition for the solution, and must still develop the ecosystem and standards required to enable the standardized, interoperable iUICC ecosystem of the future. This requires collaboration between many stakeholders, ranging from certification bodies, such as the GSMA, to manufacturers and network operators. Here are some of the fundamental challenges that iUICC technology must overcome to continue on its path of unlocking immense opportunity for the industry.
Overcoming the barriers to integrated SIM technology
Close cooperation between all sectors of the market will be crucial to develop a secure, embedded operating system and to ensure secure data preparation and provisioning. Integrated SIM technology must have security that is comparable to the level of trust and reliability of traditional SIM cards in order to keep customer trust and avoid external penetration.
Life cycle management solutions, such as those offered by G+D, will be key in order to allow remote provision of devices with SIM profiles. This will allow swift adaptation to local network requirements and customers’ choice of mobile network operator (MNO). However, this capability should be expanded to include secure OS updates, either from an in-factory personalization perspective or remotely updated in the field over the air (OTA).
The iUICC is a very exciting technology with massive potential. G+D is proud to be at the forefront of building its path towards a commercial reality. With millions of eSIMs connected worldwide through G+D’s solutions, our expertise and market position ideally place us to help various stakeholders prepare for the future of connectivity. There is still, however, much room for growth and development. Greater collaboration between members of the ecosystem and more holistic approaches that look at the solution’s entire life cycle will be vital to unlock the full potential of the iUICC.
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