What is a SIM?
SIM technology is foundational to everyday life.
A Subscriber Identity Module, commonly known as SIM, is the hardware that enables devices to connect to cellular networks owned by mobile operators. The SIM applications contained within the hardware provide individual end users who subscribe to the mobile network (known as subscribers) with authenticated access and related value-added services.
The benefits of SIM technology have been proven over decades and on a massive scale, but the story of the SIM continues to be one of constant evolution.The SIM applications that identify a subscriber and allow secure access to a cellular network are incorporated within connected devices via highly-secure Tamper Resistant Elements (TREs). TREs are available in various different form factors, which have become smaller and more advanced over time as the industry has continued to innovate to meet emerging demands.
What are the Benefits of SIM Technology?
SIM technology offers users a reliable way to connect their device to cellular networks while simultaneously preventing unauthorized access.
The SIM has never been hacked and its advanced functionality enables the SIM to pass Common Criteria certification – indicating the highest-levels of security. 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.
The SIM is the most widely distributed secure application delivery platform in the world and its use is enabled by interoperable solutions defined across various standards organisations such as ETSI, GlobalPlatform, ISO and Java Card Forum.
The new TCALoader tool enables mobile operators and application developers to download, install and manage applications on the UICC / eUICC to test interoperability across different deployments. This supports increasing industry demand for the delivery of various services through eSIM technology. The TCALoader is an evolution of the CAT Loader tool. This was first released by SIMalliance in 2007 (which became the TCA in 2020) and has been widely used by mobile operators and application developers to test and implement new services. The TCALoader introduces enhanced features to support different SIM form factors such as eSIM and integrated SIM, meet latest industry standards, support new protocols and increase security.
TCALoader September 2023Download
This document makes it easier for mobile network operators (MNOs), service and solution providers to deploy Mobile Connect services which use an authentication application provisioned on the user’s SIM card.
The Open Mobile API (OMAPI) Specification defines how mobile applications may access different secure elements (SEs), including the UICC and embedded secure elements (eSEs) in a mobile device. Ownership of the OMAPI Specification has been transferred to GlobalPlatform.
Open Mobile API Specification: Second Errata for Version 3.2 July 2016Download
Open Mobile API Specification: Errata for Version 3.1 July 2016Download
Test Applets for OMAPI Test Specification for Transport API: v2.2 and Errata July 2016Download
Open Mobile API Test Specification for Transport API: Errata for v2.2 July 2016Download
Open Mobile API Test Specification for Transport API Version 2.2 May 2016Download
Open Mobile API Specification: Errata for Version 3.2 February 2016Download
Open Mobile API Specification Version 3.2 February 2016Download
Test Applets for OMAPI Test Specification for Transport API v2.0 January 2016Download
Open Mobile API Specification Version 3.1 May 2015Download
Open Mobile API Test Specification for Transport API Version 2.0 December 2014Download
Open Mobile API Specification Version 3.0 November 2014Download
Open Mobile API Test Specification for Transport API Version 1.1 July 2014Download
Open Mobile API – Test Application July 2014Download
Open Mobile API Test Specification Version 1.0 – Errata Note July 2014Download
Open Mobile API Test Specification for Transport API Version 1.0 March 2014Download
Open Mobile API Specification Version 2.05 February 2014Download
Open Mobile API Test Specification for Transport API Version 0.9 October 2013Download
Open Mobile API Specification Version 2.04 August 2013Download
Open Mobile API Specification Version 2.03 June 2012Download
Open Mobile API Specification Version 2.02 November 2011Download
Open Mobile API Specification – Transport API Test Plan November 2011Download
Open Mobile API Specification – An Introduction April 2011Download
This document defines recommendations for UICC configuration and feature requirements in mobile near field communication (NFC) payments. The aim of this document is to provide guidelines that support service providers, mobile network operators (MNOs), manufacturers and implementers of mobile NFC payment services, by facilitating system integration, simplifying interoperability and reducing market fragmentation.
The CAT Loader 2.0 enables network operators and service developers to manage ETSI toolkit applications compliant with the latest release using the high-speed CAT-TP protocol, and allows users to download and install applications on the SIM card, as well as analyse card content and remove applications.
Note that CATLoader 2.0 is deprecated and is replaced by TCALoader.
Related Educational Resources
Presentations & Infographics
Trusted Connectivity Alliance: Industry Insights 2022
May 19, 2023
Download this infographic for an exclusive ‘at-a-glance’ overview of TCA’s market monitoring data for 2022.
A Trusted Connected Future: How Tamper-Resistant Elements (TREs) Can Secure the IoT
April 23, 2021
This ebook explores IoT security challenges and outlines how they can be overcome by Tamper Resistant Elements (TREs).
FAQ: Protecting Subscriber Privacy in 5G
March 22, 2021
This frequently asked questions (FAQ) document addresses key considerations to ensure the consistent protection of subscriber privacy across the globe using the 5G SIM.
News and Insights
TCA reveals significant growth in the global adoption of eSIM technology in 2022.
TCA Board Member, Benoît Collier, discusses how the expansion of 5G could impact cybersecurity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Tamper Resistant Element (TRE)?
A TRE is a standalone secure element or secure enclave, consisting of hardware and low-level software providing resistance against logical and physical attacks, capable of hosting secure applications and their confidential and cryptographic data, and are available in removeable, embedded and more recently, integrated form factors.
What is the difference between the UICC and SIM?
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.
‘SIM’ is the generic term for the applications residing on the UICC that identify a subscriber and allow them to securely access a mobile network.
However, both terms are often used interchangeably.
What is a SIM card?
A SIM card is a SIM that has one of the physical plug-in form factors as defined by ETSI (plug-in, micro-SIM, nano-SIM).