A “task force” of mobile operators was established this week to explore the development of an embedded SIM that can be remotely activated. At the dawn of the Internet of Things, it is claimed such a move would help enable mobile broadband connectivity on non-traditional devices such as cameras, MP3 players, navigation devices and e-readers, as well as smart meters.
The task force is being led by industry body the GSMA and is made up of technical experts drawn from operators including AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom Orange, KT, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone.
The stated aim is to deliver a technical solution as an evolution of the current SIM provisioning mechanisms, which will include programmable SIM card capabilities to enable remote activation.
A complete analysis of market requirements is scheduled to be complete by January 2011. Devices featuring the new SIM activation capability are expected to appear in 2012.
While traditional SIM-supported devices will continue to work on existing networks and the group will work in cooperation with major SIM producers, the SIM manufacturers are none too happy about the news.
“As this would change dramatically the business model, SIMalliance would like to remind end-users and the ecosystem the key benefits of a user removable (U)SIM card,” said the SIM Alliance, an industry association made up of SIM card manufacturers responsible for nine in every ten SIM cards sold worldwide. Its members are Datang, Eastcompeace, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Incard, Inkript, KEBT, Microelectronica, Morpho, Oberthur Technologies, Prism, Watchdata and Wuhan Tianyu. Strategic Partners are Comprion, FCI and Movenda.
The alliance maintains that the removable SIM has been endorsed as a key element to facilitate an open and interoperable mobile communications market place with choice for the end users between numerous local operators, handset brands and models, which has enabled affordable mobile communications for the masses and worldwide adoption.
As a result, the SIMalliance “considers that SIM removability and accessibility by the end user is mandatory for personal mobile communications usage. In the case of non personal mobile communications, such as Machine to Machine, such requirements could be adapted.”