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Bridging global and local connectivity: Are eSIM and multi-IMSI future-proof solutions for IoT? 

In an increasingly digital world, the growing relevance of Internet of Things (IoT) technology is prompting connectivity providers to adapt and innovate. Transatel’s Head of Research & Innovation Romain Durand weighs in on the future of this industry, citing eSIM and multi-IMSI as key assets that will keep providers ahead in the evolving IoT market.

Multi-local service is the new norm

A new trend has been shaping the IoT landscape these past years: the shift towards a ‘multi-local’ service, that is, the need for a global service with a local user experience. This trend is driven by two divergent developments: global expansion and localized performance optimization.

Being able to offer an IoT service across borders, at no extra complexity or cost, is key to scale geographically… and profits! It’s been years that moving devices such as cars have required this capability. And we are seeing this more and more with new devices and services. This is astoundingly fast today in the healthcare and agricultural businesses.

Conversely, as the IoT grows more crucial, connectivity providers face the need to ensure high reliability. This entails offering real-time services with low latency and high throughput, a challenge met by deploying regional infrastructures. Why would you care about 4G and 5G if the bandwidth and latency are ruined because your carrier, as most IoT connectivity providers still offer today, is serving all the traffic from a single region, worldwide? 

Another key asset is offering IP addresses that change according to the country of connection… if the project needs it. And conversely, be able to do the opposite and keep using the same country IP, no matter where the SIM cards are. Being able to offer both is key. However, being locally relevant is not without its hurdles. Mobile carriers and country regulators often impose stringent rules that prevent foreign providers from offering connectivity services in their domestic market.

Multi-IMSI and eSIM: the dynamic duo 

To stay relevant in the face of these multi-local IoT connectivity challenges, providers must leverage the powers of both multi-IMSI and eSIM technologies.

Multi-IMSI, or multiple International Mobile Subscriber Identity, refers to having multiple SIM card identifications loaded onto a single SIM card. An IMSI is like a passport. Depending on various factors – usually the location – proprietary smart software embedded into the SIM can switch between the different IMSIs, providing a local experience while offering a seamless service to the end user.

Certain carriers, known for their technical agility, manage to seamlessly integrate local and global services, ensuring a streamlined experience for the end client, who interacts only with a single carrier, web portal, support, etc. In regions with more stringent regulations, like Brazil, the provision of local services necessitates partnering with a local carrier. A few international carriers have responded to this challenge by establishing their own mobile carrier in Brazil. This allows them to provide an uninterrupted global connectivity service, inclusive of Brazil. In such scenarios, the SIM card deftly toggles between the local (Brazil) and global IMSIs, akin to switching between passports.

Reprogrammable SIM cards, eSIM, eUICC
In certain countries, local carriers or regulations mandate the use of a traditional, local carrier, inhibiting new entrants to the market. Under such regulations, clients are compelled to use the local carrier’s SIM card. This necessitates SIM card swapping which can be inconvenient.

However, a solution has emerged using eSIM technology. eSIM technology opens up a host of possibilities, particularly for the use case we’re exploring: the dynamic switching of SIM identification and also effectively switch the carrier that hosts that SIM cards. With eSIM, a user can “download” and activate a SIM profile that corresponds entirely to the local carriers. When the SIM moves outside the country, it can transition to another SIM profile that suits its new location.

One could think this means the client is now saddled with the responsibility of managing a new contract, integration, and support with the required mobile carrier, right? Interestingly, a few technologically agile carriers have devised a solution to this predicament. These carriers have managed to consolidate all the SIM cards onto a single platform, ensuring connectivity from any country, even if the SIM card belongs to another carrier. This arrangement creates a seamless, uncluttered, and cost-effective experience for the client, allowing them to manage all their SIM cards from one portal.

How does Transatel manage these global and local cellular connectivity challenges?

Globalization of cellular connectivity has been a focus for Transatel since its inception in 2000, with a cross-border multi-IMSI connectivity service. Transatel has been deploying carrier-grade integration with mobile carriers all around the world and is even launching its own mobile carrier in Brazil.

It has pioneered (and patented) the use of multi-IMSI technology and reprogrammable SIM cards (eUICC), often referred to as eSIMs, creating a truly versatile connectivity solution. It preloads the necessary IMSIs and eSIM profiles onto their SIMs for global service and can remotely add and activate additional profiles as necessary, for example in case of unanticipated new regulatory rules.

It has deployed regional infrastructures across all continents and keeps densifying these points of presence as its clients grow, effectively multiplying by 5 its constellation of regional infrastructures in the next few years.

Since 2019, Transatel has been proactively setting the pace in the private 4G/5G networks sector. A notable innovation is their development of SIM cards that can connect to both private and public networks, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity. Transatel continues to be an active participant in the research and development in this space, constantly pushing boundaries and introducing new services that further cement its position as a leading innovator in private network solutions.

Transatel is now pioneering satellite-cellular connectivity to offer a truly global service, aiming at leaving the beta stage of this service for a full launch in early 2024. This innovation allows devices to maintain connectivity regardless of location—be it in the heart of a bustling city, atop remote mountains, or amidst the vastness of the oceans.

As the IoT market evolves, so too must connectivity providers. Transatel, with its forward-thinking approach and technical flexibility, is well-positioned to maintain relevance in this rapidly changing landscape. By combining the strengths of eSIM and multi-IMSI technology, providers can offer a seamless, globally inclusive, yet locally optimized service, ensuring they stay ahead in the IoT race, and Transatel may just have the right ingredients to keep leading that race. 

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