According to Counterpoint Research, more than 14 billion devices with an embedded subscriber identity module or eSIM will be shipped between 2021 and 2030, a 24% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
This figure spans all available eSIM form factors, including the hardware-based eSIM (the embedded universal integrated circuit card or the eUICC in a physical chip that can be soldered onto a device) and the integrated SIM (iSIM) or eSIM that’s integrated into a device’s processor.
In short, mobile network operators (MNOs) must now seek the services of an eSIM provider, particularly an eSIM device and subscription management and remote provisioning provider.
Regardless of the form factor — Counterpoint Research says while the hardware-based, solderable eSIM is dominant now, the iSIM will become the preferred form factor after 2027 — so the eSIM is here to stay.
The Lay of the Land: Telcos Must Support eSIM
In recent years, eSIMs have become an increasingly popular way to connect mobile devices to cellular networks. They offer greater flexibility and convenience, enabling users to switch between networks and plans more easily than traditional SIM cards. Telecom companies must provide eSIM support to take advantage of increasing eSIM customer demands.
Apple’s release of the eSIM-only iPhone 14 in the United States in 2022 is a definite push in the eSIM direction. Apple has had eSIM-enabled devices since 2018; however, the eSIM-only iPhone was an industry first and a clear signal to everyone that eSIM smartphones, wearables and other consumer devices are the clear way forward.
The internet of things (IoT) is another reason telecoms must provide eSIM support, and soon. According to IoT Analytics, the global enterprise IoT market will grow by 19% in 2023. While this may be slower than initially forecasted (23%), it still indicates continuous and steady growth.
IoT Analytics says the IoT market size will grow to $483 billion at a CAGR of 19.4% from 2022 to 2027. Growth is expected to be brisk in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, with a CAGR of 22%, and North America, with a CAGR of 20%. The slowest growth will be in Europe, with a CAGR of 16%.
That’s just the enterprise IoT market; the global consumer IoT market is another factor. According to Grand View Research, the USD 220.5 billion global consumer IoT market will expand at a CAGR of 12.7% between 2023 and 2030 and be worth $555.92 billion at the end of the forecast period.
When it comes to anything IoT, eSIM is obviously better than the traditional physical SIM. eSIM is easy to install in devices, and eSIM IoT devices are definitely easy to deploy. Flexibility, future-proofing and cost-efficiency are some other eSIM advantages.
Indeed, these things indicate the clamour for eSIM support will rise, both from the consumer and the enterprise markets. The demand can only grow as more device manufacturers embrace eSIM technology.
eSIMs also offer a range of benefits for telecom companies. Telcos can reduce the costs associated with traditional SIM card management, particularly on the logistics and supply chain management side. eSIMs also make managing device activations and deactivations easier, reducing the risk of errors and associated support costs.
The ability to switch between plans easily, without needing a physical SIM card, means improved user experiences. This can drive customer loyalty and increase revenues, as customers are likely to stay with a provider that offers them the flexibility they want and need.
In truth, MNOs that refuse or fail to provide eSIM support risk losing customers and falling behind the curve. It’s a choice: Support eSIM and survive or do nothing and perish.
eSIM Best Practices for MNOs
Implementing eSIMs can be a daunting prospect for many MNOs.
What to do, where to start, own infrastructure or third-party provider, onsite or cloud eSIM management — just answering these initial questions can stall many an MNO’s push for eSIM support progress.
In truth, the simplest way to get started is to procure the services of an eSIM connectivity management solutions provider.
With a multi-tenant eSIM hub, for instance, MNOs can get up and running quickly since they can manage all types of eSIM devices across all sectors, covering consumer, machine-to-machine (M2M) and IoT devices using only one eSIM management platform.
Whatever MNOs decide, they must remember to check off the following points to provide superior eSIM support to their individual and enterprise customers.
Provisioning is the process of providing SIM profiles over the air to connected and authorised devices, and it’s a critical component of eSIM management. Telcos must ensure that the provisioning process is smooth and efficient, regardless of the type of device or operating system used.
Thus, it’s essential to have a robust provisioning solution that can handle the complexities of eSIM management. Cloud-based eSIM management solutions can offer great flexibility and scalability, enabling telecom companies to provision eSIMs remotely and quickly.
Security is a significant concern, and MNOs must ensure customer data and privacy are protected at all times and that eSIMs are secure against hacking and other security threats.
To this end, telcos must adopt robust security protocols, including encryption, secure provisioning, and ongoing monitoring to detect and address security breaches. It’s also vital for eSIM management platforms to remain up-to-date on the latest security standards and best practices.
- Inventory Management
Managing eSIM inventory can be complex, especially for large MNOs with many customers requiring support and connectivity across different devices (e.g., consumer, M2M, and IoT). Telecoms need real-time eSIM inventory tracking to ensure they can meet customer demand.
- Customer Support
MNOs must also train their staff, particularly their customer support department, to ensure everyone can provide precise information and technical support to eSIM customers. They must also invest in the right tools and systems, including support software and workflows designed to handle eSIM-related queries and issues.
- Industry Standards
The eSIM market is evolving rapidly, and new industry standards are emerging to ensure interoperability and compatibility across different devices and networks.
For instance, everybody in the telecommunications industry is anticipating the introduction of the new IoT device standards by the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA).
Telcos must stay current with these standards and ensure they follow eSIM management best practices. They must also work closely with device manufacturers and other key industry players to ensure they’re following the industry’s best practices on eSIM devices’ connectivity, provisioning and management.
MNOs: eSIM Support Needed Now
eSIMs offer many benefits to both customers and MNOs, and telcos must provide eSIM support to keep up with changing customer demands.
However, managing eSIMs can be a complex and challenging process. For instance, managing eSIM consumer devices differs from M2M and IoT device management.
MNOs need a system or platform that will seamlessly, effortlessly and readily marry these segments. It’s a good thing there are eSIM providers that provide multi-hub eSIM orchestration services that can enable MNOs to start offering eSIM connectivity support across all devices and markets in no time.