What is an eSIM?

An eSIM is a ‘digital SIM’ that can store multiple operator profiles (the combination of subscriber data and applications that provide secure connectivity to cellular networks) and be remotely managed in accordance with GSMA’s Remote SIM Provisioning Specifications.

Trusted Connectivity Alliance has been tracking the development of the eSIM market since its nascent phase. In 2023, TCA estimates that the total available market for eSIM was 390 million units. The latest figures collectively reported by TCA members showed that consumer eSIM adoption doubled in 2023, with consumer eSIM profile downloads increasing 109% year-on-year, and deployment of consumer eSIM SM platforms rising by 25%.

The data also demonstrates a strong foundation for growing eSIM adoption across automotive and IoT verticals. M2M eSIM adoption – predominantly focused across automotive use-cases – was supported by a 12% increase in the deployment of M2M eSIM SM platforms.

Looking ahead, global standardisation efforts such as GSMA’s eSIM for IoT Specifications (SGP.31 and SGP.32) will play an important role in promoting increased eSIM adoption across IoT verticals.

What are the Benefits of eSIM Technology?

Globally reliable, flexible connectivity

Enabled by GSMA’s Remote SIM Provisioning specifications, eSIM technology brings additional flexibility to consumer, enterprise, IoT and M2M devices by removing the need to physically change out a SIM card when switching to a different mobile operator. This instantly solves the prohibitive costs and logistical challenges associated with deploying and managing devices globally, delivering the flexibility and scalability required to unlock emerging cellular use-cases spanning the connected ecosystem, anywhere in the world.

Advanced, dynamic security

An eSIM shares the cryptographic features of the SIM, including a securely designed central processing unit and dedicated secure memory to store operating system programmes, keys, and certificate data, protect devices from various hacking scenarios, such as cloning, physical attacks to a single device, and remote attacks. eSIM functionality also enables remote upgrades to sensitive data, apps and subscriptions according to GSMA and GlobalPlatform specifications so that a device can immediately respond to emerging threats and attacks once it is live in the field.

End-to-end digitalisation

eSIM technology enables full end-to-end digitalisation, which delivers various advantages. For operators, customer acquisition and onboarding is streamlined, and a direct channel is established to enable the delivery of new value-added services to enhance the overall user experience. Digitalisation also enables operators and device manufacturers to simplify supply chains and production flows, significantly reducing manufacturing, distribution and transportation costs.

Directly Influence the Evolution of eSIM Technology

By becoming an eSIM Member, your organisation can support the evolution of TCA’s recently launched eSIM Interoperability Service, alongside access to discounted fees and relevant test data. You can also participate in TCA’s eUICC and IoT Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) Working Groups.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the eUICC and eSIM?

A UICC is the platform, specified by ETSI, that can be used to run multiple security applications. These applications include the SIM for 2G networks, USIM for 3G, 4G and 5G networks, CSIM for CDMA, and ISIM (not to be confused with integrated SIM) for IP multimedia services.

An eUICC (which originates from the term embedded UICC) is a UICC which enables the remote and/or local management of profiles in a secure way that meets GSMA requirements for Remote SIM Provisioning and is certified in accordance with the GSMA compliance programme.

eSIM is the generic term applied to eUICCs that support Remote SIM Provisioning as defined by GSMA.

What is Remote SIM Provisioning?

Remote SIM Provisioning refers to the process of downloading, installing, enabling, disabling,and deleting a profile on an eSIM. Remote SIM Provisioning is enabled by specialised secure servers called eSIM Subscription Manager (SM) platforms.

Over recent years, the industry has invested heavily in establishing a global infrastructure of eSIM SM platforms. This infrastructure allows users to connect to more than one operator and offers the freedom to seamlessly switch mobile operators without changing the SIM card on the device.

Is an eSIM always embedded into devices?

eSIM originates from the term ‘embedded SIM’ and it can be soldered directly onto the device to realise various benefits. However, eSIM also includes removable form factors that can store multiple operator profiles. The eSIM can also be integrated within a secure enclave on a System-on-Chip (SoC) – known as an integrated eUICC or integrated SIM.