There were numerous innovations demoed and discussed at this year’s MWC Americas. However, AT&T’s announcement with G+D and Altair of the development of the first MNO-grade integrated SIM, for deployment across cellular LPWA networks, generated particular excitement among OEMs and ODMs.
Avishay Shraga, Head of Security Technologies for Altair, provides five reasons why IoT device manufacturers are eagerly anticipating the introduction of an integrated SIM:
- Simplifies the supply chain – device manufacturers today have to shop around multiple module and SIM vendors understanding who their potential suppliers are. They then need to design both the module and the physical SIM onto the motherboard. Working with more suppliers requires more integration, complicates and delays the manufacturing process. An integrated SIM allows device manufacturers to source both products from a single vendor, simplifying the development process and thus reducing time-to-market.
- Enables smaller devices – small form factors have always been a key aspect for IoT, especially for applications such as wearable devices and GPS trackers. Until now, physical SIMs were designed onto the board, requiring additional components and circuitry and taking up more space. The integrated SIM means that developers do not have to add another component on the device, enabling tighter integration and smaller devices.
- Improves power consumption – the close integration of the modem and SIM can improve power consumption of the whole application, as it enables power optimization within the device. The unified power management of the modem and SIM enables developers to tightly synchronize when they are both active and minimize the times that they are consuming power inefficiently.
- Reduces costs – integrating the SIM significantly reduces the cost of materials, as IoT OEMs no longer need the additional components, sockets and circuitry which the traditional SIM and modem setup require.
- Maintains high security levels – the rise in cybercrime has been a key concern for IoT developers and providers. The integrated SIM implants SIM functionality into the various module components with a secured hardware element, providing the same carrier-grade security of a physical SIM.
This announcement is doubly exciting because it emphasizes AT&T’s market leadership with a real product which supports its IoT strategy, while other ecosystem players are still in the declarative and planning stages.
Overall, the introduction of an integrated SIM simplifies the development process while reducing costs and optimizing device performance. This will open up the cellular IoT market to more device makers, particularly those smaller OEMs who may not have the cellular expertise previously required to develop a cellular IoT offering, enabling them to simplify the product SKU and easily scale their offerings globally.