The Internet of Things (IoT) has experienced rapid growth, presenting opportunities for innovation across various industries, applications, and markets. GSMA forecasts cellular IoT connections to reach 3.1 billion by 2025, a nearly 5-fold increase since 2018.
To fulfil this opportunity, the newly introduced GSMA SGP.32 eSIM IoT Technical Specification published in July 2023, specifically developed to enable over-the air RSP (Remote SIM provisioning) for network- and UI-constrained devices, aims to reduce the complexity of the provisioning and management of MNO profiles for IoT applications using eSIM technology, and to further accelerate the growth of massive IoT.
Physical SIM cards require manual installation and physical swapping to change or update MNO profiles, which is impractical for IoT devices that may be deployed at scale in multiple locations or in challenging to reach environments. These together with other unique requirements of IoT devices led the GSMA, with input from players across the IoT ecosystem, to publish the SGP.31 eSIM IoT Architecture and Requirements and the SGP.32 eSIM IoT Technical Specifications.
While GSMA M2M RSP and Consumer RSP standards are already well established and proven in the market, they cater to different use cases. M2M RSP has mainly served automotive and industrial sectors; typically, large-scale deployments requiring significant investment and with integration complexity. M2M RSP is based on a ‘push’ model, applicable to non-end-user interactive environments. Conversely, Consumer RSP is based on a ‘pull’ model, with connectivity profile switching enabled by user-friendly interfaces such as QR codes, and targeted at consumer devices such as smartphones, tablets and wearables, and with the aim of making it easier for end-users to manage selection of connectivity providers and tariffs.
Although based on the Consumer RSP standard, and with several common architectural elements, IoT RSP allows remote switching of connectivity profiles without physical intervention, reducing operational costs and enabling flexible business models for low-cost, power-constrained devices on cellular IoT networks.
By simplifying the integration complexity compared to M2M RSP, and by leveraging Consumer RSP architecture and already deployed MNO infrastructure, IoT RSP should encourage more MNOs to participate in the RSP ecosystem. Also, standardization by the GSMA ensures interoperability between devices, eSIM Manufacturers, RSP vendor solutions, and MNOs. This will foster a more open market, and is likely to drive enterprise adoption of eSIM and iSIM with RSP technology due to a growing pool of available MNO profiles.
The downstream benefits will deliver end customers with more options, flexibility and choice to provision and manage IoT connectivity for their applications according to their business needs, supporting, amongst others, various use cases such as smart cities, asset tracking, healthcare, smart energy and industrial IoT.