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eSIM standards gain support in connected car sector

The GSMA’s Embedded SIM (eSIM) standards proposal was in the spotlight in Barcelona, as operators increasingly acknowledge that millions of connected things will need to be automatically and remotely provisioned and managed, ending the long reign of the carrier-specific replaceable SIM card. Indeed, AT&T was among the MNOs which said the eSIM might well come to the smartphone itself in time, if users demanded it.

Another important target for the eSIM is the connected car, where a universal standard would help streamline the manufacturing process globally, and allow MNOs to connect the vehicles more easily to their networks. The eSIM standard has won an influential number of new supporters from this sector, including General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Renault-Nissan, Scania, and Volvo.

In theory, an embedded SIM card would allow auto makers to install a single universal unit inside their cars and be able to connect them to cellular networks across the world. This should be a boon to in-market and lifecycle management, which are important for products that can be used for as long as cars are, as it allows the operators and manufacturer to potentially sell services to the new owners throughout the lifetime of the car – raising the revenue generated by a single vehicle substantially.

As the SIM can be remotely managed and provisioned, it can be added or removed from regional cellular networks. This means that cars used in the US could safely take a trip across the border to Canada or Mexico and remain connected – provided the MNOs enable all the background cloud processes that manage roaming to function freely.

AT&T’s Single SIM system was the first global eSIM-compliant solution, launched in the MNO’s domestic US market. As of today, some 22 MNOs have announced an eSIM offering – including AIS, America Movil, KPN, MTN, Rogers, Swisscom, Taiwan Mobile, Telenor, and TIM. A large proportion of the Bridge Alliance and Global M2M Association, which have separately joined to launch a Multi Domestic Service (MDS) offering in some 77 markets, have products available.

“The GSMA Embedded SIM Specification allows Jaguar Land Rover to reduce manufacturing complexity, adapt to changing regulatory frameworks and work with the best mobile operators, on a country-specific or regional basis, improving the customer offering to deliver the next generation of connected services over the lifetime of our vehicles,” said Mike Bell, Jaguar Land Rover’s Global Connected Car Director.
Renault-Nissan had similar things to say, noting that the spec would allow it to provide more flexible and agile solutions, and offer its customers ease of use and a high quality service. “Supporting the GSMA eSIM specification will help sustain our innovations by enforcing a reliable and stabilized solution. We will be able to offer our customers ease of use and a high quality of service – our main objectives.”

Volvo and Ericsson also have a partnership to add new high-bandwidth networking technology to Volvo vehicles, aimed at providing the infotainment content that passengers in autonomous vehicles will want to consume – likely streamed video.

Ericsson already supports Volvo’s Connected Vehicle Cloud, which powers the infotainment, apps, and communication services inside Volvo’s vehicles built since 2013.

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