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eSIM – What is all the excitement about?

By April 27, 2022 No Comments

Everyone has heard of SIM cards.  The SIM, short for Subscriber Identity Module, holds your digital credentials for wireless network access.  These credentials, technically called IMSIs (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), allow each SIM to securely identify itself and to connect to a wireless network.  Today 95% of the SIMs used in the US contain only one set of credentials, which typically allow the SIM to connect to its local wireless carrier.  Wireless carriers like this type of SIM because they control which networks your device can use in the US, and around the world. This control allows your carrier to direct your traffic to a specific roaming network which offers your wireless carrier the best rate!

About 15 years ago, SIM technology began to evolve to where multiple sets of credentials/IMSIs can be installed on a single SIM.  These Multi-IMSI SIMs had an application built into them that would choose the one of the available IMSIs on the SIM depending on the SIM’s location.  Now suddenly, a SIM could be connected to hundreds of networks around the world by using multiple IMSIs.  No longer were you limited to the carrier that your home SIM had the best deal with.  Globalgig introduced its first Multi-IMSI SIM in 2007, and today it provides connectivity to over 600 networks in 200+ country/regions.

However, the Multi-IMSI SIM had a few drawbacks.  First, once it left the factory with a portfolio of IMSIs, that portfolio could never change.  In other words, the carriers that are accessible via the SIM are “baked in”.  So, if a new network became available with better pricing or more coverage, your Multi-IMSI SIM would have to be swapped out with a new one that has the IMIS to access this new network.  This represents big logistical challenge, especially for customers with large volumes of deployed SIMs who need access to the new network.

The second drawback is the cost.  IMSIs are not free.  While having access to a Multi-IMSI SIM is a good fit for mobile applications where the SIM frequently moves from country to country, a Multi-IMSI SIM not optimal for stationary devices where the device remains in a single country.  If the use-case for the SIM is stationary, the majority of the IMSIs are never used, furthermore, they can’t be used by another SIM!…, wasted IMSIs.

eSIM is designed to overcome the drawbacks of the Multi-IMSI SIM by optimizing wireless connectivity through the dynamic use of IMSIs.  Imagine wherever the eSIM is deployed, it will download the most optimized credential/IMSI for that location.  If the eSIM is mobile, it will always use the best IMSI for that country.  Most importantly if the “best” IMSI changes next month, not to worry, the eSIM will download the new IMSI automatically!

Here’s how it works…Globalgig’s eSIM has a digital communication channel back to our Orchestra SIM Management platform.  The eSIM uses that channel to communicate changes in its location, serving network, and the device it is inserted in. In addition, once a day or so, the IMSI checks in with Orchestra to see if there is a new, better IMSI that it should use at its current location.  Each day, Orchestra will determine the best credential/IMSI to use AND when a new IMSI is available it will send it over-the-air to the eSIM.

With eSIM, Globalgig clients will have access to the most optimized and up-to-date networks immediately and will never again need to swap out a SIM.  Each eSIM will have dynamic access, via our Orchestra platform, to our entire library of IMSIs, currently covering 200+ countries/regions with access to 600+ carriers.  Each eSIM will not only have more choices when it comes to connectivity, Globalgig will leverage this flexibility to optimize data rate plans based on our clients specific requirements.

Globalgig eSIM functionality is not just for embedded eSIMs.  Our eSIM functionality can be used anywhere you would use a traditional SIM.  We offer our eSIM in the 2FF, 3FF, or 4FF SIM form factors as well as a soldered chip for IoT devices.  Still have questions about how our eSIM solution can work for you, feel free to email me at bob.ewald@globalgig.com

Bob Ewald
Bob Ewald
SVP Mobile Product and Business Development

Bob is responsible for Globalgig’s strategic mobile product initiatives. Bob brings in-depth experience in mobile data solutions including IoT connectivity, private LTE/5G networks, and MVNOs. Prior to Globalgig, Bob held senior leadership positions at Federated Wireless, Kajeet, Nextel, and Nextel International. Bob holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

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