Kigen: When it all began
Mobile, automotive, and IoT applications are rapidly embracing embedded SIM (eSIM) and remote SIM provisioning (RSP) technology. With its highest-profile launch to date in the Apple iPhone XS, eSIM adoption is projected to grow at a 40% CAGR through 2028 according to Research and Markets.
At MWC Barcelona 2018, we launched the Arm Kigen family including Kigen SIM OS for both eSIM and iSIM, and remote server solutions. Now, with Kigen one year on, iSIM technology is poised to extend the innovation further and support the expected explosive growth in IoT.
Both eSIM and iSIM succeed the familiar removable plastic SIM card, eliminating concerns over physical damage or loss and greatly reducing the risk of service theft. Both use remote SIM provisioning technology, which allows storage and remote, over the air management of multiple subscriptions for different carriers. Both offer the same SIM grade level of security for network authentication.
However, the difference between iSIM and eSIM is quite significant. Instead of a separate eSIM chip, iSIM is integrated in to the same system on chip (SoC) as the device or modem microprocessor. The secure SIM OS is housed within a secure enclave, so the network authentication operations are protected and partitioned from the other operations of the SoC.
iSIM expands on eSIM benefits through silicon integration significantly reducing space on the device and offering lower power consumption and reduced costs. To a large extent, iSIM technology leverages the existing eSIM ecosystem and back-end infrastructure, while simplifying SIM logistics.
With all the enthusiasm over eSIM technology, iSIM technology is even more exciting as it goes further for secure at-scale deployment. iSIM is a key piece of our vision for one trillion connected devices by 2035.
Let’s look at the progress so far around iSIM innovation, security certification, and a growing ecosystem for Arm Kigen solutions, along with a preview of Arm’s presence at MWC19.
Innovation with eSIM and iSIM
If eSIM technology does the job, why is iSIM technology needed? Chipset and device makers are facing a pressing need to step up their innovation game. Many innovators who hadn’t considered designing SoCs previously are discovering the benefits of optimization as a competitive advantage.
The seven top eSIM use cases are even more compelling with iSIM technology enabling smaller, less expensive, lower power, more reliable devices.
- Mobile markets are saturating rapidly, and the replacement cycle for mobile devices is now averaging 2.8 years according to HYLA Mobile. Many smartphone chipset makers are now looking at iSIM as part of diversifying from the smartphone market and capitalizing on the forthcoming cellular IoT growth.
- Automotive makers are looking at all types of services on top of basic connectivity with the rise of the cellular vehicle to everything (CV2X) concept. Services from emergency calling to finding available parking spaces and electric vehicle charging stations can be enabled with iSIM technology.
- With edge devices aggressively constrained in size and power, the Internet of Things (IoT) offers the largest potential space for innovation. iSIM technology plus cellular connectivity is unlocking the cellular IoT potential for chipset and device makers.
iSIM technology gives chipset makers and OEMs more control over optimization, differentiation, and security compared with eSIM technology.
Interoperability and security assurance with GSMA certification
The GSMA has created eSIM specifications and overseen the associated processes certification since the technology debuted. It’s critical that both eSIM and iSIM technology is fully secure and completely interoperable. Certification of device IP and subscription management software is required for obtaining the digital certificates needed for RSP.
The GSMA maintains a public list of suppliers accredited for SAS-UP (UICC production) and/or SAS-SM (Subscription Management). Many of the SAS-UP accredited suppliers use Arm’s hardware intellectual property for processing and security cores. In July 2018, Arm’s UK-based data center obtained certification as a SAS-SM accredited site, in preparation for Arm Kigen’s production SM-DP and SM-SR servers service operation. This demonstrates Arm’s commitment to provide more options to the ecosystem and enable access to world-class security technologies from chip to cloud.
The eSIM and iSIM ecosystems are expanding rapidly
This combination of innovative, certifiable IP is powering the adoption of iSIM technology across the industry, with the full end-to-end solution enabled by Arm Kigen solutions.
First, let’s consider mobile carriers. At the time of writing, eSIM/iSIM technology is supported by carriers in 24 countries across the globe. In the US, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all currently support eSIM/iSIM activation, and Sprint has committed their support as well. In Europe, Vodafone is also working with Arm on support for iSIM technology.
IoT service providers are also rapidly embracing iSIM and the Arm Kigen family:
- Sprint, in collaboration with Arm’s parent company SoftBank, has created the Curiosity IoT platform using the Arm Kigen server solutions for RSP.
- Workz is collaborating with Arm for a complete M2M solution including Arm Kigen OS for IoT SoC designs and Arm Kigen server solutions for RSP.
- Pod Group has revealed plans to use Arm Kigen server solutions across their eSIM families for M2M and IoT solutions.
- Hologram also plans to use Arm Kigen server solutions on networks including LTE-M for cellular IoT connectivity.
Finally, module and device makers are also coming online with eSIM/iSIM:
- Iskraemeco has successfully completed customer trials for its smart meters using eSIMs running on Arm Kigen OS.
- Cavli Wireless (also a connectivity provider) has just announced they are deploying Arm Kigen server solutions for RSP to support OEMs of their LTE Cat 1, Cat M1, and NB-IoT modules.
Kigen at MWC19
At this year’s MWC Barcelona, Arm will showcase the growing momentum behind Arm Kigen for both eSIM and iSIM technology. We are pleased to be sponsoring and leading a panel discussion at the GSMA eSIM workshop, with representatives from Google, Microsoft, Altair, Infineon Technologies, Sierra Wireless, G+D, Gemalto and Idemia. Topics will naturally cover everything eSIM, but also explore iSIM technology and what possibilities it holds. We’ll provide the video after the panel – watch for our blog and social media updates.
Those attending MWC19 in person will be able to see Arm Kigen solutions firsthand. Visitors can experience a demo showcasing Arm Kigen RSP in an asset tracking application as well as how it integrates with leading connectivity platforms such as Arm Pelion. Come and visit us at MWC19 at booth E30 to meet our team and learn about our end-to-end solution for SIM, security, provisioning and connectivity.