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eSIMs will prove to be the biggest enabler for mass IoT

Yehia El Amine

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eSIMs

Years from now, 2020 will be remembered as the year that challenged the norm set forth by humanity for decades. Reality was altered, people were pushed indoors in attempts to shield themselves from the tidal spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But while people took refuge indoors and economies were tested, the technology field prospered and accelerated. From that, a myriad of advancements in the tech innovations skyrocketed, among them was the Internet of Things (IoT) and eSIMs.

According to a report by Strategy Analytics, a US-based tech strategy firm, sales of eSIMs for IoT applications will grow to 326 million by 2025.

“eSIM (Embedded Subscriber Identity Module) has been heralded as the next evolution of the SIM card, because it offers the ability to change service provider profiles using Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP), without needing to physically change the SIM card itself,” the report said.

This is vital in enabling devices where it is either difficult or inefficient to access a physical SIM, for example hermetically sealed medical devices, vehicles, consumer electronic devices or a whole range of other IoT devices.

Many experts forecast that eSIM developments are ramping up following a year of non-interoperable eUICCs (Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card), the industry is now aligned with clear standards and a broad ecosystem of partners, with over 200 carriers supporting eSIM.

“This growth has been pushed forward by the consumer market, where eSIM adoption is being driven by smartphones, as OEMs offer an ever-growing portfolio of devices, although eSIM is also a familiar feature of tablets and laptops, eReaders, smartwatches and other wearables,” the report added.

Even though there is still significant uncertainty around Covid-19 and its impact on the IoT industry, there is enough evidence to suggest that the ongoing pandemic will only accelerate the rate of change.

In fact, a recent report by market research company IDC, worldwide IoT spending was valued at $52.76 billion in 2019 and is forecasted to pass the $1 trillion mark in 2022, reaching $1.1 trillion by 2023.

Thus, both sectors seem to be on the up-and-up as time passes by.

“The growing number of SIM-enabled devices in IoT projects presents a maintenance and management headache from an enterprise perspective; the need to change SIM cards in millions of IoT devices, is impractical and unrealistic,” Andrew Brown, Executive Director of Enterprise and IoT Research at Strategy Analytics said.

Brown highlighted that eSIMs offer a robust, scalable solution to the SIM card challenge especially for enterprises and is based on the open, vendor-neutral standard developed by the GSMA.

But while connectivity is often an afterthought for many businesses when building IoT solutions, cellular technology has proven to be a major player in delivering smooth and protected user experiences.

“Over the last few years, we have also seen growth in integrated SIM (iSIM), which builds on eSIM functionality. While an eSIM is a dedicated chip soldered on to a board and attached to a device’s processor, iSIM integrates the processor core and encryption in a system-on-chip (SoC),” Brown said.

He stated, however, that this is important for use cases which look for low cost, low power, and high levels of security in very small form factors. The growth in eSIM and iSIM is vital to driving seamless connectivity into as many devices as possible over the coming years.

The state of now

With IoT growing at such a sophisticated rate, SIM cards are limiting opportunities brought forth by IoT in terms of connectivity and flexibility, especially for large scale deployments.

Thus, with businesses locked into one mobile network on a standard SIM card, the only way to change networks is to change the SIM itself.

This is already an impossible hill to climb; but allows for the concept of eSIM/eUICC to take center stage. Commonly, UICCs are small plastic cards that house the SIM, plus other data, and ensures users can access the mobile network.

However, eSIM is simply an embedded SIM card and can store and accept multiple network profiles and change from one to another remotely based on a set of defined rules.

While it might sound simple, the tech is still in its infancy with many challenges spotted on the horizon.

“Profile swapping is not as simple as flipping a switch, with agreements necessary across the chain and complex API integration required. There are also additional costs, such as the SIM itself and fees for management and network swapping to factor in, which could make adoption uneconomic for small deployments,” the report by Strategy Analytics said.

This emphasizes the need for expert providers that provide the right expertise and platforms.

IoT and eSIM team up

According to Wireless Logic Telecom Group, a UK-based telecoms provider, there will be three key reasons why IoT businesses will be evaluating eSIM technology today:

  • A commercial and operational safety net – The ability to switch network operators at the end of a contracted period if costs or services are not satisfactory.
  • To deploy a product globally – Connect to the best network profile wherever in the world the device ‘wakes-up’. A seamless end-user experience that can even create new ongoing revenue streams for OEMs and solution providers.
  • Globally mobile IoT products – Automatically switching to local networks, leveraging cheaper connectivity rates, and avoiding expensive or unexpected roaming charges.

The British telecoms provider believes that the rise of eSIMs represent a shift in the way the IoT ecosystem will operate.

“Accompanied by the right eSIM managed service, IoT businesses can unlock value with a streamlined user experience for managing connectivity, enabling devices to be deployed easily and flexibly,” a report by Wireless Logic said.

It also added that these types of managed service platforms are the future of IoT as they help to manage multiple networks and navigate additional complexities.

The path to 7 billion

According to a study by UK-based telecoms provider Truphone, they forecast that by 2024 seven billion eSIMs will have been activated in consumer and IoT devices around the world.

The study laid out six steps that would lead to the seven billion eSIM activations by 2024:

  • The SIM slot will disappear:

Inside devices, space is at a premium and needed for new features and better batteries, driving the development of eSIM-only devices.

  • It all goes digital:

We have seen DVDs give way to Netflix, CDs to Spotify, game disks to Steam, cash to contactless, newspapers went online, and software moved to app stores.

Similarly, consumers will engage with network service providers predominantly through digital channels, leveraging the ability for eSIM to be activated instantly, while the 30,000 tons of plastic used every year in SIM cards will be reduced.

  • The IoT supply chain is global:

It’s not scalable, cost-efficient or practical to pre-agree and select SIM cards for devices when you have no knowledge of where they will be used or will travel to.

With four billion cellular IoT connections forecast for 2024, integrated eSIMs will allow the decision on which connectivity service to use to be deferred to when the device is deployed.

  • Data security is non-negotiable:

A trusted mechanism to securely send and receive data for more and more connected devices is critical and will be a regulatory requirement in many scenarios.

The 25 billion IoT connections (cellular and non-cellular) predicted by 2025 will all need security built in and many of these will be able to leverage the security measures pre-integrated into eSIM to ensure data can be kept protected whilst minimizing any additional costs for IoT devices.

  • The best connectivity possible:

Although only 20 percent of the cost of an IoT device might directly relate to the connectivity, 80 percent of the problems experienced by IoT devices are linked to the network connectivity.

eSIM provides further flexibility to explore as many different connectivity options as possible.

  • The great 5G SIM swap:

5G is on track to account for 15 percent of global mobile connections by 2025 (1.4 billion connections), according to GSMA Intelligence.

Many of these 5G-capable devices will require new SIM cards to fully realize the benefits of 5G technology. Many of the 5G activations will simply jump straight to eSIM with 5G support built-in and ready to use.

While the dream of IoT demands higher levels of connectivity and the integration of flexible technologies such as eSIMs, these demands will have to be met by operators, OEMs and the like equally and in a secure way, paving the way for mass IoT to edge closer to reality.

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Yehia is an investigative journalist and editor with extensive experience in the news industry as well as digital content creation across the board. He strives to bring the human element to his writing.

IoT

Telenor unifies its IoT services portfolio

Inside Telecom Staff

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Telenor IoT services

Norwegian telecoms provider Telenor Group announced late last week that it will be unifying its Internet of Things (IoT) services across the Nordic region and internationally, placing them under one large portfolio.

“Effective immediately, Telenor IoT will be offered from all Telenor business channels in the Nordics, and internationally by Telenor Connexion and through selected partners,” the provider said in a statement.

As a part of introducing Telenor IoT, a new operating model is being launched to leverage on Telenor’s global competency, synchronize product development, accelerate the customer facing business and improve technical support.

“In doing so, Telenor is bringing together 200 full time IoT specialists, the largest team for any Nordic IoT service provider,” the telco said. It also highlighted that the company would act as one united global IoT team with a uniform product portfolio and go-to-market strategy – bringing the best capabilities and competence to every customer.

“The new operating model reinforces our competitive edge and makes our product portfolio easier to buy for any customer searching for world class IoT operation and platform capabilities. We are also getting scale benefits on new technology investments,” Commenting on the announcement, Mats Lundquist, CEO of Telenor Connexion and manager of Telenor IoT said in the statement.

The Telenor IoT offering will be supplied by Telenor IoT specialists located in 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe.

“The launch of Telenor IoT and unifying our IoT capabilities and competencies will make us better positioned to accelerate the digital future that will benefit customers, businesses, and society. The steps we are taking now is the culmination of several months of intense collaboration between colleagues in Telenor’s Nordic telco businesses, Telenor Connexion, and Telenor’s Nordic Hub,” Jukka Leinonen, Nordic EVP and Chairman of the Telenor Connexion Board said.

Telenor is considered as a big player within the IoT services space with over 17 million connected devices active in more than 190 countries. In 2019, the provider was positioned as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Managed IoT Connectivity Services, Worldwide.

Today, Telenor ranks among the top 10 IoT operators globally, and in the top 3 in Europe by volume, and is the clear market leader in the Nordics.

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IoT

E-scooters to benefit from Ericsson-Arkessa partnership

Karim Hussami

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E-scooters Ericsson Arkessa

After using the internet to keep people connected for quite some time, many devices nowadays have the capability to be connected to each other by the internet of things technology (IoT) which can work directly through a smartphone.

From small devices to cars and houses, IoT is the main driver to create a new ecosystem by having objects engineered to seamlessly communicate with each other, and especially with the user, to support all day connectivity across the ecosystem.

According to Ericsson, the number of cellular IoT connections will grow from 1.7 billion in 2020 to 5.9 billion in 2026, while the manufacturing IoT managed services segment is estimated to hold approximately 27.5% of the market share in 2026, according to Persistentmarketresearch.

New partnership for IoT connectivity

As such, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Arkessa reached a deal to provide a secure, managed global connectivity solution that supports the rapid and efficient deployment of Voi e-scooter fleets around the world.

According to Ericsson, that partnership will help increase micro-mobility in cities by having global SIMs supplied by Arkessa, allowing Voi to easily provision, activate scooters and manage its fleet of connected scooters worldwide, regardless of their location.

Arkessa’s global connectivity offers Sweedish Voi the flexibility to deploy its growing fleet of e-scooters in various countries while minimizing costs and optimizing coverage.

One SIM can connect to different service providers without the need for physical replacements, offering significant cost savings in fleet management. Voi gains full global connectivity management benefits powered by Ericsson IoT Accelerator.

These IoT-enabled devices contain sensors that constantly collect and react to data, and this vast level of data can be used to unlock new levels of intelligence.

Fredrik Hjelm, CEO and co-founder of Voi, says, “We are excited to work with Arkessa to provide superior IoT connectivity in our scooters and ensure an even higher level of service for our riders and partner cities. By leveraging Arkessa’s secure and resilient global network connectivity, Voi can continue to deliver fast, reliable e-scooter services as we expand into new markets and roll out our next-generation vehicles and IoT hardware.”

Benefits of IoT scooters

In parallel, these scooters which are activated by the smartphone now ubiquitous in every country in Europe and the United States, giving citizens, tourists and locals an alternative and convenient option to move around the city.

On the other hand, the data is collected from the scooter directly  via integrated sensors which are transmitted via cellular connectivity to the systems of the companies that own them.

Information – which includes the location of each connected  bicycles and scooter, how long each ride takes, which docks need to be restocked, and which ones are full – is always available in real time.

For example, New York’s Citi Bike makes its system data publicly available and invites developers, engineers, and statisticians to use it for analysis, development, and visualization. These measures are taken for the purpose of making better decisions related to transportation and municipal infrastructures.

The idea is that the continuously streamed data collected from connected bikes and scooters will become a crucial components of a fully functional and responsive interconnected grid that can process big data      .

Enterprises are increasingly taking advantage of cellular IoT to deliver new services, derive new revenue streams and improve operational cost-efficiency.

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IoT

Tips to increase and maintain IoT smart home security

Karim Hussami

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IoT smart home security

From the thermostat and television to lights, curtains, and security systems, the Internet of things (IoT) turns any home into one connected cell controlled by the single touch of its owner.

Once a home is transformed into a smart one, all connected devices can be controlled remotely through the Internet. However, as with every technology, it is subject to various cybersecurity risks.

According to a report by Statista, the global market revenue in Smart Home technology is forecasted to reach a value of US$77,386 million in 2020, and more than 141 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.

“A global comparison reveals that most revenue is generated in the United States (US$23,328m in 2020),” the report highlighted.

Ways to improve IoT security

Before purchasing any IoT device, users should primarily research the different devices available as well as their related security level to select the safer option in terms of security and privacy.

Thus, to benefit from the efficiency of these smart devices whilst shielding them from attacks, there are several measures that should be taken by the smart homeowners:

 1- Update the software:

According to U.S.-based cybersecurity software developer Norton, software updates related to IoT devices should not be neglected and updated frequently when notified on their smartphones.

In parallel, users should manually follow up for software updates by regularly checking online for update availability and launch dates.

Taking a step backwards, homeowners should ensure the availability of security on IoT devices to begin with, since security isn’t on the manufacturers’ top priority list, as some devices are not designed with a mechanism for updating software, leading to vulnerabilities putting it under potential risk.

2- Use strong passwords:

The second most important security measure for IoT devices after software updates, according to an article published by Forbes Technology Council, is the use of the strongest authentication possible.

In other words, passwords are to be long, complex, and hard to guess.         

“To gain control of a device, the hacker needs certain information from you. Many of these instances come when default passwords or simple phrases are used,” Richard Davis, Katalyst Data Management said.

Davis recommends using a password manager and a second-factor authentication app (rather than mobile phone SMS) to control access. These will deter the drive-by hacker by increasing the amount of work they have to put into hacking you.

3- Set up the router securely:

First off, changing the routers’ default name after purchase to a unique name that cannot be traced to the user’s home address is key to preventing unauthenticated access by cybercriminals.

Likewise, using complex and long passwords, including upper and lowercase letters as well as numbers, and special characters will help secure it even further. In addition, strong encryption protocols are highly recommended to protect Wi-fi access and network security.

The highest level of encryption is currently WPA2, which will be soon succeeded by WPA3.

“Home routers are primary IoT targets for hackers. Thus, a secure router translates to a substantially more secure smart home,” Travis Goodreau, a home Security & Safety Expert at SafeHome, was quoted as saying.

Each IoT device is to have a separate login credential so that if one device is hacked, the others remain unaffected. A password manager tool can be used to store the passwords for all the devices since there can be many passwords, one for each device, and easily forgotten users.

In parallel to that, a separate network is to be set up for IoT devices, granting sole access to the homeowner, to add an extra layer of security, whilst giving access to other networks for family, friends, and visitor use.

4- Install a next generation firewall:

The traditional firewall system may not be sufficient to secure IoT devices from cyberattacks, thus, the introduction of next generation firewall – which is an integrated platform that combines the traditional firewall with other functionalities such as virtual private network (VPN), malware protection and intrusion prevention system (IPS). 

Although next generation firewalls are quite expensive, having the right security measures in place is worth their weight in gold.

The threat of cyberattacks on digital homes is on the rise, and the importance of safeguarding smart home security is increasing as consumers acquire more developed IoT devices, and become even more connected.

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