Introduction to embedded-SIM (eSIM)
What is an eSIM ?
SIM Cards Today
Today, the traditional SIM card is owned and issued by a specific operator. This model is illustrated in the following figure
In (1), the end user sets up a contract with their chosen mobile network operator, and in return they receive a SIM card, which they can insert into their mobile device to enable it to connect to the operator’s network. This particular SIM card is marked with a red dot to indicate that the subscription credentials contained within it are issued and authenticated by that operator
Should the end user wish to change operator, they can set up a contract with the new operator (2), and in turn receives a SIM card from that operator (this time marked with a blue dot indicating different subscription credentials).
It is obvious to note that even though the end user has this new SIM card in their possession, the mobile device is still connected to the original operator’s network. To change operators, the end user must physically swap the SIMs (3)
Remote SIM Provisioning
With Remote SIM Provisioning, there are no traditional SIM cards. Instead there is an embedded SIM (called an eUICC), which may be soldered inside the mobile device, that can accommodate multiple SIM Profiles – each Profile comprising of the operator and subscriber data that would have otherwise been stored on a traditional SIM card (the red and blue dots in the previous section). An example is illustrated in the following figure
In (1), the end user sets up a contract with their chosen mobile network operator, and in the case of a Consumer solution, instead of receiving a SIM card they will receive instructions on how to connect their device to the operator’s Remote SIM Provisioning system. In this example a QR (Quick Response) code is used. The QR code contains the address of the Remote SIM Provisioning system (SM-DP+ server within the GSMA specifications), which allows the device to connect to that system (2) and securely download a SIM Profile. Once the Profile is installed and activated, the device is able to connect to that operator’s network (3)
Should the end user wish to change operator, they can set up a contract with the new operator (4), and in turn receive a QR code from that operator. The device can scan the code to locate and download the new Profile.
In (5) the end user is now able to switch between the two Profiles, to connect their device to whichever operator’s network the end user selects (6)
For further details on eSIM, kindly checkout GSMA official website.
Alternatively you can also go through the below video for quick reference