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  • Writer's pictureYash

eSIM in Disguise

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

The evolution of Machine to Machine (M2M) communication has brought with it new advancements in SIM card technology. eSIM has emerged as the preferred choice for many M2M communication applications due to its flexibility, scalability, and security. However, Multi IMSI UICC SIM cards (MFF2 form factor) have gained attention as an alternative that can work in disguise as eSIMs. In this blog post, we will discuss the advantages of using Multi IMSI UICC sims as an alternative to eSIMs for M2M communication applications and some tradeoffs.


eSIM for M2M communication


eSIM technology has become increasingly popular for M2M communication applications due to its flexibility and scalability. With eSIMs, M2M devices can be connected to any cellular network globally without the need to swap physical SIM cards. eSIMs can also be remotely provisioned, which makes managing M2M devices easier and more cost-effective. In addition, eSIMs are more secure than traditional SIM cards as they have built-in encryption.

This means that the data stored on the eSIM, such as network access credentials and other sensitive information, is protected by encryption algorithms that make it much more difficult for unauthorized parties to access or tamper with.


Multi IMSI UICC SIM as an Alternative


A Multi IMSI UICC SIM card (Universal Integrated Circuit Card) is a type of SIM card that can store multiple International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) numbers. IMSI is a unique identifier assigned to a mobile network subscriber and is used to establish connectivity between the subscriber's device and the network.


With a Multi IMSI card, a device can connect to multiple mobile networks using different IMSI numbers without physically swapping SIM cards. This can be useful when traveling internationally or to an area with a patchy network, as the device can automatically connect to the local network with better strength using the appropriate IMSI number stored on the SIM card.


Multi IMSI UICC SIM cards can be programmed over the air to switch between IMSI numbers, providing flexibility and convenience for the user.

Multi IMSI UICC SIM cards in the MFF2 form factor offer an alternative to eSIMs for M2M communication applications. Multi IMSI SIMs allow a device to connect to multiple networks using a single SIM card, which can be particularly useful in situations where network coverage is patchy or where a backup network is required. Multi IMSI cards are also less expensive than eSIMs and can offer more reliable connectivity.


Tradeoffs


Multi IMSI SIM cards and eSIMs both provide scalability for cellular connectivity in devices, but there are differences in the way they offer this scalability. Multi IMSI UICC SIM cards allow multiple IMSIs to be burned/stored on a single card, while eSIMs eliminate the need for burning profiles altogether. eSIMs offer greater convenience and instant switching between network profiles.


If a device with a Multi IMSI UICC SIM card needs to connect to a cellular network that is not stored on the card, then the device may not be able to establish connectivity. This is because Multi IMSI cards have a limited number of IMSIs slots that can be stored on them, and if the desired operator is not stored on the SIM card and there is not enough empty slots, the device may not be able to connect to that network.

In such cases, the device may need to be manually reconfigured or have a new SIM card installed that supports the desired operator. This can be time-consuming and costly, especially if the device is located in a remote location or if the operator has a limited coverage area.


In contrast, eSIMs offer greater flexibility as they can store multiple network profiles, and devices can be provisioned with new profiles remotely over the air. This means that if a device needs to connect to a new operator, the eSIM can be reprogrammed remotely, a new network operator's profile can be installed remotely and the device can establish connectivity without the need for physical intervention. This allows for greater agility and scalability in the management of devices.


But in the Indian context where network operators are limited and all the network operator’s profile can be stored in the Multi IMSI card, it can be a great replacement for eSIM cards.



Best Practices for Using Multi IMSI UICC SIM


When using Multi IMSI SIM cards, it is essential to ensure compatibility with the device's M2M communication infrastructure. This includes selecting a Multi IMSI UICC SIM card that is compatible with the device's network frequencies and ensuring that the device's firmware supports the use of a Multi IMSI card. It is also important to ensure that the Multi IMSI UICC SIM card is properly configured to work with the device's M2M communication infrastructure.



AIS-140 Compliance in India: The Role of Multi IMSI UICC SIM Cards


In India, the use of Multi IMSI UICC SIM cards has become prevalent in the deployment of AIS-140 compliant vehicle tracking devices. The AIS-140 regulation mandates the use of GPS-enabled vehicle tracking systems for commercial vehicles in India, and Multi IMSI cards have been widely adopted as a cost-effective and reliable solution for enabling cellular connectivity in these devices.


These SIM cards allow for multiple IMSIs to be stored on a single card, which can then be switched dynamically to connect to different networks. This ensures that the vehicle tracking device remains connected to the strongest available network at all times, providing uninterrupted service.


The smaller form factor of Multi IMSI UICC SIM cards in the MFF2 form factor allows for more compact and efficient vehicle tracking devices, which is particularly important in the Indian market where cost is a significant factor. In addition, the ability to connect to multiple networks using a single SIM card ensures that these devices can maintain connectivity even in areas where network coverage is patchy or where a backup network is required.


As per AIS-140 regulation, the cellular communication module must support at least two network service providers which can then be switched dynamically. Thus the use of Multi MISI cards is a practical solution for meeting the technical requirements apart from using eSIM.


Overall, the use of Multi IMSI UICC SIM cards in the MFF2 form factor in AIS-140 compliant vehicle tracking devices in India demonstrates the practical benefits of this technology for M2M communication applications, particularly in cost-sensitive markets.




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