eSIM-Based Wireless Connectivity: a Game-Changer for (Almost Any) Business
Jan 04, 2021
Ensuring secure and reliable wireless connectivity poses a longstanding challenge for businesses operating in remote environments. Consider, for example, energy companies with sea-based oil rigs. Or construction companies breaking ground in isolated rural areas. Maintaining on-the-move connectivity across different coverage areas is particularly vexing – think cruise ships in international waters that must keep guests connected, as well as process high-volume transactions from onboard casinos. And if you’ve ever tried to catch up on email on a crowded interstate passenger train, you’ve learned to keep your expectations modest.
Options for remote and mobile connectivity have traditionally been limited to expensive and complex solutions that delivered limited coverage and poor quality. Today, however, the evolution of eSIM (embedded Subscriber Identity Module) technology is creating a new world of possibilities for a wide range of businesses.
eSIMs are programmable chips that can be built into most any device, and enable communication between that device and multiple wireless networks. Unlike traditional SIM cards, eSIMs can be configured remotely, without physical intervention.
While most commonly deployed in consumer electronics products such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, eSIMs are increasingly being used in new ways to enhance mobile connectivity as well as point-to-point communication in environments where traditional networking solutions aren’t viable. For example, eSIMs can support machine-to-machine communication for a variety of Internet of Things applications. These include smart home devices, monitors on jet engine components that gauge temperature and wear and tear, and autonomous vehicles that continually collect and analyze data in real time to deliver services such as navigation, entertainment and diagnostics. Disruptive thinkers are also exploring the potential of deploying eSIMs in drones to create portable connectivity hotspots that can be deployed where needed – to, say, support mobile COVID-19 testing stations.
eSIMs are also a key enabler of asset tracking solutions, which are expected to be used by 90 million businesses within five years. By enabling enhanced mobile connectivity and transmitting data from smart sensors, eSIM technology can help transportation and logistics companies monitor the location valuable cargo – from precision manufacturing components to works of art – along every step of their journey. Containers transporting frozen foods or medicines, meanwhile, can be tracked to gauge temperature and humidity levels.
In addition to supporting innovative IoT and industrial initiatives and groundbreaking new applications, eSIMs can be applied to more mundane operations. Retailers can use eSIMs to support digital signage quickly and easily establish connectivity to establish a POS to process transactions from a mall kiosk or pop-up location. Businesses of any size, moreover, can benefit – an independent food truck operator can create an eSIM-enabled hotspot to efficiently process credit transactions and provide al fresco diners with free WiFi service.
While potential applications range far and wide, a few basic criteria and success factors characterize most any eSIM-based connectivity initiative. These include:
- Interoperability: Mobile connectivity solutions that involve vehicles or assets traveling across multiple coverage regions must be able to aggregate resources and operate at a high level of quality across multiple carriers. Many eSIM solutions, however, are confined to specific carrier networks, which significantly limits the solution’s reach and utility.
- Flexibility: eSIM solutions should integrate into existing environments with minimal customization. For example, if assets such as cargo containers, industrial equipment or vehicles already have hardware endpoint devices in place, the eSIM component should be able to accommodate those. Alternatively, if new or additional hardware devices are needed, seamless implementation of devices with appropriate capabilities should be expected from the eSIM provider.
- Ease of Deployment and Operation: Simplicity is a virtue when it comes to eSIM-based connectivity. Equipment staging, ease of operations and quality technical support/customer care are essential. Dashboard-based management tools can facilitate contract and vendor management and simplify procurement and enhance transparency.