Are you ready for the future of mobile communications? Here’s how mobile operators can get started with eSIM

According to Counterpoint Research, shipments of eSIM-based devices are expected to reach almost two-billion units by 2025. Major smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, Huawei, and Apple aren’t the only ones leading the eSIM technology revolution, however.

Thanks to smaller form factors and remote-provisioning capabilities, eSIM is transforming the telecoms sector and opening up new lines of revenue for mobile network operators. It’s not just smartphones either – eSIM is also a driving force behind the adoption of wearable tech, connected vehicles, IoT, and LTE-connected laptop computers. It’s a global phenomenon that network operators and device manufacturers need to get on board with quickly if they’re to maintain and grow their competitive advantages.

Supporting eSIM devices is now a must for mobile operators. Fortunately, accommodating the new technology doesn’t have to take months of rolling out new infrastructure. Now, everything can be done online through remote SIM provisioning using your existing subscriber registration systems and processes.

You too can get started with eSIM in three simple steps:

#1. Profile generation

Much like calling cards and coupons, the SIM card is going through an era of dematerialisation in which it’s being replaced by software-based systems. A key benefit of this approach is that it allows network operators to provision eSIM subscriptions remotely, rather than having to physically distribute SIM cards. In response to this need, the GSMA released a specification in February 2016 to govern the process.

eSIM architecture consists of an eSIM profile stored on the eUICC software in the chip embedded in the user’s device and on the network operator’s subscription management server. As such, the easiest way to activate a consumer’s eSIM-ready device is by distributing a QR code that tells the device where to obtain its new eSIM profile.

To set up remote provisioning, mobile operators only need to provide their input files, network authentication keys, and electrical profiles. Then, they can begin the profile testing and development phase with the output files for network provisioning and QR codes for testing.

#2. Testing and user acceptance

Before going live, it’s essential that operators ensure everything is working as intended by using test profiles and QR codes. As far as end users are concerned, the process should be as simple as possible. Once your eSIM support goes live, you’ll need to provide subscribers with a QR code, which they’ll scan using their consumer portal app installed on their device.

Your SM DP+ platform will generate the matching IDs encoded into the QR code either in real-time via eSIM profile ordering or in a batch job on your fulfilment back end. For example, operators might provide a printed QR code at the point of sale. Subscribers should be able to scan these to immediately download their eSIM profiles to the eUICC SIM on their device.

It helps if you have an eSIM deployment and management solution that provides complete end-to-end testing across all device categories you intend to support. For example, an eSIM might work fine on an Apple smartphone, but could run into trouble on some older IoT devices.

Although the differences might seem minimal, some eSIM-enabled devices might not support protocols and features often found in modern handsets. For example, for remote provisioning, a device must support the Bearer Independent Protocol (BIP). While BIP is widely supported among smartphones, there are a few  IoT devices which don’t support it.

The GSMA has a list of all requirements for remote provisioning architecture where you can find out more. However, it’s important to note that an eSIM-enabled device should be able to connect to any mobile network.

#3. Going live

Once testing and quality assurance has been carried out, operators will be ready to release the live eSIM profiles for all their subscribers and their supporting QR codes for activation. This will allow subscribers to connect their eSIM devices to your network.

Thanks to remote provisioning and QR-code-based activation, it should be possible to go live with your eSIM project within a few weeks. . By working with a vendor that supports all the current GSMA specifications and is compliant with all leading SIM standards, you should also be able to use your existing systems without any additional capital expenses. This approach offers the best ARPU by maximising your subscription sales and market share ahead of your competitors. By choosing the right remote eSIM provisioning provider, you can go live in minimal time.