Newcomers to the cellular IoT (Internet of Things) landscape are witnessing a significant transformation. The conventional SIM cards, the familiar tiny chips used in our phones, are now in the midst of a technological revolution. They are evolving into electronic SIMs (eSIMs) and integrating with computer chips as integrated SIMs (iSIMs). This transition has a primary goal of enhancing both the security and efficiency of IoT devices, going beyond mere cosmetic upgrades.
In a recent episode of the Elektor Engineering Insights podcast, experts dove deep into how eSIMs and iSIMs are revolutionizing cellular IoT and bolstering security.
Toby Grimshaw, who represents Kigen, a prominent figure in the IoT domain, clarifies that a SIM card is far more than a simple authentication chip. It functions as a miniature computer. At its essence, it houses a highly secure processor dedicated to protecting sensitive data. In addition, it operates with an embedded system responsible for overseeing all the applications and functionalities within a SIM card’s purview. These tasks encompass activities such as optimizing battery performance and storing essential details about your mobile plan. Depending on whether the SIM card is intended for use in a regular phone or an IoT device, it can run distinct software tailored to meet its specific requirements.
Stepping into the spotlight, Jimmy Jones of Zariot takes on the role of guiding us in the art of choosing the ideal SIM for IoT devices. In this matter, there are two primary choices and these are LTE-M and NB-IoT. These two represent distinct varieties of cellular IoT technology. However, the decision isn’t as straightforward as a random selection. It hinges on the intended usage location. Certain regions strongly favor one variant over the other. To illustrate, NB-IoT finds favor in South Africa, while LTE-M gains preference in Central America. In some areas like the UK, both coexist, but specific carriers may still exhibit preferences.