Blog from ARM: eSIM is on the rise, but what does this mean for MNOs?

Moving device designs from a plastic SIM card to an embedded SIM (eSIM) chip may seem like a small change. In practice, much more than the form factor itself changes. Switching to eSIM brings new features aimed at improved scalability for IoT deployments.

eSIM driving cellular IoT adoption

eSIM, along with remote provisioning technology, removes one of the biggest roadblocks to cellular IoT deployments: the need to hold SIM-bearing inventory for multiple SKUs and manage it over long distances. eSIM enables in-market localization and out-of-the-box connectivity, resulting in operational efficiency and improved customer experience, and ultimately, enabling scalable IoT deployments.

Consumer electronics and automotive sectors are rapidly embracing this new technology. With its highest profile launch to date in the Apple iPhone XS, the global eSIM market is estimated to grow from $253.8 million in 2018 to $978.3 million by 2023, according to Marketsandmarkets. In the automotive sector, manufacturers are already equipping cars with an eSIM to lower manufacturing costs and simplify logistics. We expect logistics and utilities industries to follow the trend by applying eSIM technology to rationalize their operations and reduce costs.

Streamlined, secure provisioning of eSIM-based devices brings many new opportunities to enterprises and OEMs. In our recent whitepaper ‘7 top eSIM use cases’, we’ve highlighted the top eSIM use cases where we see scalability driving faster and broader IoT adoption.

What about MNOs?

With so many enterprises attracted to IoT applications for these top eSIM use cases, mobile operators are poised to tap into rapid IoT growth. At the highest level, eSIM technology allows mobile operators to quickly onboard significantly more cellular connected devices into their networks.

Mobile operators migrating from traditional SIM cards to eSIM reap other operational benefits:

  • Reduced costs: For devices that use eSIMs, operators will see elimination of the distribution and inventory practices associated with traditional SIM cards. They won’t have to purchase, stock, program, or ship SIM cards. Support costs fall due to greatly simplified, consistent RSP methods. Most end-user “hand-holding” over SIM problems is eliminated, and customer satisfaction improves.


  • Increased subscribers: Remotely provisioned eSIMs enable mobile operators to quickly add IoT subscribers that would otherwise be captive to another MNO. With smartphone markets maturing, IoT devices represent a new market that promises to continue growing for quite some time into the future.


  • Enhanced security: GSMA specification compliance for eSIM technology ensures subscriber and network security remains upheld and interoperability is achieved.

For MNOs, the change to eSIM will present an opportunity to revamp their business models in this evolving ecosystem. For example, they could to add comprehensive IoT subscriptions to their services and offer complete connectivity for a host of devices or come with pay per schemes on devices.

The entire eSIM ecosystem has vast opportunities for connected device innovation. Mobile operators can also align with silicon providers, device makers, and application providers in new partnerships driving even more value with eSIM technology.

Download Arm’s guide ‘7 Top eSIM Use Cases’