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By Rubén Martínez, Global R&D Manager for Mobile Solutions at Valid
How to make your engineers’ life easier when facing eSIM deployments?
The eSIM implementation is a vital part of MNOs efforts to digitalize their business. For consumers, eSIM-enabled connected devices give them a handful of possibilities to select the best data plans available and embark on their own digital journey experience, without the need to physically visit their preferred mobile provider store every time they want to update, change or adapt their mobile services.
No wonder the largest smartphones companies such as Google, Apple and Samsung are investing hard and leading the market for eSIM consumer devices. According to ABI Research, eSIM smartphones shipments will more than double in 2021 to 781 million units from 255 in 2020.
To provide the connectivity, access to upcoming remote updates, complete digital onboard experience and basically take care of the entire lifecycle of these connected devices, Connectivity Service Providers need to grant their end users via the mobile channel, access to a SM-DP+ platform – a subscription management service. This solution is helping MNOs, OEMs, technology providers and third parties to provision a subscription into an eSIM device and to manage customers’ profiles throughout their entire lifecycle, while protecting the operator credentials and customers sensitive data.
However, the eSIM technology adds complexity to the manufacturing process, as an embedded secure element, and poses prototype validation challenges to device makers, and device qualification issues to MNO engineers who need to guarantee a smooth service to their end-users.
- Challenges for the Prototype tester at OEM side:
- Identifying all the MNOs in the target market.
- Struggling to have access to a mobile line for each selected MNO in foreign markets.
- Awareness that even with your device is compliant with a test tool, doesn’t guarantee the device can work with any MNO profile.
- Suffering from delays in the time-to-market because they have identified serious interoperability issues with one important MNO profile.
- Challenges for the Engineer at MNO side:
- Keeping a drawer with devices that costs more than 5,000 USD in order to test their MNO profile at the SM-DP+ platform
- Monitoring every eSIM-enabled device launch in order to test it with their profile
- Making a deep technical qualification of the devices that they distribute themselves in their outlets or via their website, whether MNO-branded or not.
- Struggling to receive support and/or clarification from device makers sideIf the device acquired by the customer does fail to download the mobile operator’s profile, it may lead to an increase in calls to customer care centers, add costs to their operation, and increase customer dissatisfaction.
These challenges delay the time-to-market of eSIM devices and hold back the industry to the adoption of improved services and advanced devices for consumers. To answer those main concerns, eSIM and SM-DP+ providers have been working on interoperability programs.
At some stage in 2019, GSMA organized test fest sessions among a reduced number of OEMs, eUICC and Subscription Management platform providers and MNOs, with a level of achieved interoperability reaching slightly above 80% at that time. Considering the expected level of user experience that the mobile industry needs to reach, and the growing number of players providing elements of the eSIM ecosystem, this achieved result was far from being satisfactory.
One of latest and broadest programs available today is eSIM Interoperability as a Service (eSIM IaaS), launched by Valid in partnership with 2 major technical labs, FIME & UL. eSIM IaaS provides a free-of-charge SM-DP+ online service for validating prototypes during their initial stage of deployment. In this platform, device makers have access to a service web interface where they retrieve one Activation Code per MNO so their eSIM prototypes can be validated.
The MNOs only need to provide Valid with their commercial profiles without real credentials, for protection.
This simple action helps them to ensure a better service for their end-users during the commercialization of new OEM devices. MNOs from around the world have already join this initiative, in order to create a hub for prototype tests and solve the interoperability issues and daily hassles their engineering team are facing in order to offer better services and user experience to their customers.
Obviously eSIM IaaS might not release MNOs from thoroughly test the behavior of those new devices on their network, but to some extent, it releases them from a first set of verifications with regards to the downloading on their eSIM profile onto the OEM devices.
The benefits of joining eSIM IaaS services includes:
- Reduced effort from your technical validation staff and customer care centers.
- Reduced costs to their operation.
- Increased satisfaction for their customers.
- Further cooperation between OEMs and MNOs.
- Feedback on any issues encounter with their profile.
- Early detection of interoperability issues at initial prototype stages.
- Reduced time-to-market.
- Increased product robustness.
- Favorable end-user perception of the brand.
The eSIM is the near future of the mobile world and in order to access its full potential, and to bring convenience and decision power to the consumers, as well as digital journeys, technological devices and better roaming services, the industry needs to work better together and solve these interoperability issues encountered by their device makers and validation teams. Let’s make this possible, join Valid’s eSIM Interoperability as a Service Program and be a part of the move towards greater eSIM experience.