GSMA embedded SIM specification set to boost M2M market

Mobile industry association, the GSMA, has unveiled a specification for embedded SIMs that already has the support of several major stakeholders and which the GSMA is hoping will boost the M2M market by at least 34% in the next five years.

The key feature of the specification is to enable OTA (over-the-air) switching of communication service provider on an embedded SIM or chip. This reduces the risks associated with having to commit to a given CSP too early in an smart device product cycle and enables switching of CSPs even when the products containing the embedded connectivity are in the field.

A bunch of industry stakeholders have publicly come out in favour of the specification, including AT&T, Telefónica, Vodafone, Gemalto, and Giesecke & Devrient. The GSMA commissioned some research from Beecham Group that forecast this move would boost the M2M market by 34% over the next five years, although that could turn out to be somewhat conservative, given its current size and future potential. spoke to Gary Waite, Executive Director of Embedded SIM at the GSMA, and asked why the GSMA has championed this specification. “What we were seeing was a number of proprietary solutions all going out to market, which is great, because it gets the market going and it fulfils the needs of the market,” he said. “But the trouble is when none of them are compatible with each other, it doesn’t really scale well and locks people in. That’s where standards come in.”

The industry most likely to immediately benefit from this move is automotive, which has product development cycles of several years and is thus reluctant to commit to embedded technologies too early in that cycle. “It probably starts with the auto-makers, but then will move into utilities quite quickly and other areas after that,” said Waite.

“Gemalto sees tremendous benefit in the growth of the M2M market from the implementation of the GSMA Embedded SIM specification,” said Benoit Jouffrey, Vice President On-Demand Connectivity Solutions at Gemalto. “Our M2M solutions are compliant with the GSMA specifications and we are excited about the easier roadmap this will bring to commercial projects leveraging these interoperable standards to meet the growing demand of the M2M industry.”

Embedded systems are by definition inaccessible, so any specification or standard that enables those systems to be updated remotely is most likely to increase their uptake. This seems like a good example of just that, so hopefully it will give the M2M market a boost.

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