Ericsson and Gemalto work to simplify M2M with embedded SIMs

Users of Ericsson's M2M platform will get simpler management using the remotely controlled cards

In an effort to make it easier to connect vehicles, Ericsson and Gemalto have joined forces on embedded SIMs.

Just like in mobile phones, SIM cards secure devices used for connecting machines. To simplify management, the telecom industry is working on embedded SIMs for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications that can be remotely controlled. The standardization work has been a struggle and is now expected to be ready by the middle or the end of the year, according to the GSM Association.

But Ericsson didn't want to wait any longer, and even though the underlying standards are still being worked on they have become so mature it doesn't have to, according to Miguel Blockstrand, head of the company's Device Connection product line.

The use of embedded SIMs has several advantages, according to Blockstrand. So-called late binding allows the SIM card to be activated later in the production process of a car, for example, he said. The embedded SIM card can be remotely activated when it arrives in the country where it will be sold, instead of someone locally having to put a card in every car.

The embedded SIM also allows for the operator to be changed over-the-air and the SIM card to be copied from one device to another. The latter allows people who switch cars to take the SIM along with services from the old car to the new one.

The ability to easily change operator over-the-air is the most controversial of the features made possible by embedded SIMs. Operators have been concerned that the use of embedded SIMs would spill over to smartphones, but M2M customers have become much more vocal about the need for them and that has helped sway operators, according to Blockstrand.

"Operators with M2M business units understand the advantages without any problems," he said.

Ericsson working with Gemalto on embedded SIMs is a good thing, according to Hans Dahlberg, head of M2M Global Services at TeliaSonera, which uses Ericsson's Device Connection Platform. Regarding the ability to switch operators, Dahlberg thinks there is more demand for getting a local SIM and local tariffs when roaming abroad. But that can only be offered by operator groupings that use the same underlying platform, he said via email.

In addition to vehicles, embedded SIMs can also be used in things such as street furniture and shipping containers.

The integration between Ericsson will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress by Ericsson in its booth and Telenor Connexion in the GSMA Connected City.

At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson will also talk about the monetization of M2M services, according to Blockstrand, who also expects there will be a lot of talk about different kinds of partnerships.

The conference takes place in Barcelona and starts on Feb. 25.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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