Aeris Blog

iSIM: A Secure, Versatile Way to Provision IoT Devices

May 08, 2019

Cellular technology is one of the most common methods for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices to a network. According to a study by Ericsson, 70% of wide-area IoT devices will use cellular technology by 2022. Devices connect to a cellular network via Subscriber Identity Modules (SIM) and Universal Integrated Circuit Cards (UICC), which provide a good balance of power, security, and versatility at a reasonable cost.

In recent years, however, traditional SIM cards have become cumbersome to new IoT designs.

While their form factors have steadily decreased in size, traditional SIMs are still unable to switch owners and must be physically changed when provisioning devices on new networks. According to a report from IoT Analytics, the number of IoT-enabled devices is expected to reach 22 billion by 2025. These larger, more robust IoT deployments will be impossible to manage effectively if powered by traditional SIM technology that requires routine physical maintenance.

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The Cost and Space Benefits of iSIM Technology

As a result of the physical drawbacks of traditional SIMs in IoT deployments, developers have turned to embedded SIM cards (eSIM) for future device designs. eSIM cards use the smaller MFF2 form factor and are soldered directly onto the UICC. They can be provisioned, updated, or switched to a different network remotely at any time with the added bonus of increased durability when compared to traditional SIMs. But eSIMs are only the beginning of the connectivity innovations occurring in the modern IoT environment.

Building on the eSIM specification, Arm Technologies has developed the integrated SIM (iSIM) to secure the next wave of cellular IoT devices. iSIM technology integrates a microcontroller unit, cellular modem, and SIM identity into one system-on-chip (SoC) design. This SoC construction is ideal for smaller, low-power IoT devices that have neither the space nor the battery life to support a separate SIM card, microprocessor, and wireless radio. iSIM’s all in one solution also has benefits in terms of cost; without the need for plastic cards, trays, or other internal infrastructures that would support separate chips, an IoT device that uses iSIM is less expensive to assemble, and they eliminate any chance of mishandling prior to, during, and after deployment.

How iSIM Increases Security and Interoperability

Connected devices using iSIM can go anywhere in the world and securely join an IoT network with little cost or hassle. iSIM achieves this level of versatility by enabling a number of operating principles already in use by mobile network operators, including device identity, trusted boot sequence, subscription management, and orchestration. Most importantly, iSIMs allow remote provisioning and over-the-air (OTA) programming, significantly lightening the infrastructure load on an IoT deployment. Where before a company would have to consider physical support logistics to provision devices and maintain traditional SIM card connectivity, now these tasks can be handled from a single IoT platform within minutes. iSIM’s level of versatility drives down operating costs and gives companies the space to double down on their IoT investments and grow their IoT ecosystems.

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Where iSIM really shines, however, is in the realm of IoT security. Its design creates a secure enclave using semiconductor and software IP that is inside yet fully partitioned from the rest of the SoC, with self-contained processing and encryption elements running a secure operating system. A self-contained structure makes iSIM technology secure by design, providing a device with a unique identity that is less susceptible to spoofing. iSIMs level of security is crucial to give companies the confidence to upscale their IoT deployments.

Find Your Connectivity Solution with Aeris

Once iSIM technology reaches full implementation, companies will have the flexibility to address global markets with local provisioning for billions of connected devices. But regardless of the size of your IoT deployment, Aeris has the resources to get you connected.

Aeris provides global cellular solutions across CDMA, GSM, and LTE networks. We seamlessly deliver connectivity in more than 190 countries, across more than 550 underlying carriers, all delivered on a single platform. Aeris’ cellular networks were built specifically for IoT, delivering increased performance, control, and visibility with more than 99% reliability. Customer tests prove that the reliability of the Aeris network is unmatched in IoT.

To learn more about the connectivity solution that’s right for your IoT deployment, contact Aeris today.