The Evolution of the SIM Card
A SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card is an integrated circuit that contains unique subscriber information, which is used by cellular carriers to identify and authenticate subscribers and enable access to their networks. Over the last 25+ years, we have seen an enormous evolution in SIM card technologies:
SIM versus eSIM
Although there have been significant advancements in SIM card technologies, traditional SIMs essentially lock users into a single carrier network and technology, making it highly inefficient and expensive to change carriers or upgrade to new cellular technologies. As a result, an increasing number of IoT providers are seeking eSIM technologies.
An eSIM is a hardware-based SIM that alleviates the aforementioned challenges by essentially acting as a single SIM card that is universally compatible with any cellular carrier or technology (2G, 3G, LTE, NB-IoT, etc.), and can support multiple carrier profiles at one time. Standardized via GSMA specifications, eSIM technologies enable users to remotely switch from one carrier profile to another via a series of Over- the-Air (OTA) commands sent to the device, as opposed to physically removing and swapping the SIM card. With all provisioning processes managed remotely, the eSIM enables future-proofed IoT deployments.