At this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a task force consisting of a group of international mobile operators announced it will submit its plans for an embedded SIM solution to telecommunication standards body ETSI for consideration by month-end. The standard would allow for an embedded (as opposed to removable) SIM technology that could be remotely activated by operators at point of sale and afterwards.
The embedded SIM technology is not meant to replace the removable SIM cards such as those used in today's mobile phones, but it could be used in various consumer electronics devices to connect them to the Internet. It's the first step to building an "Internet of Things."
The technology standard for embedded SIMs is based on a set of requirements that would allow mobile operators to manage credentials on the card and update provisioning profiles securely in order to move the device from working with one mobile operator to another during the device's lifetime. All the communication and various changes made by the operators would be done remotely - that is, over the air.
The embedded SIM won't replace traditional SIMs in phones, the group says, but will work in alongside them. However, its creation will impact the area of development of the so-called Internet of Things.
According to the GSMA:
"In addition to driving momentum for a range of new and exciting connected devices, the embedded SIM will also encourage the development of new machine-to-machine (M2M) services by making it easier to bring mobile broadband connectivity to non-traditional devices such as cameras, music players, e-readers, in-car systems, health monitors and smart meters."
The GSMA task force, which included leading mobile operators from around the world, had formed recently to determine the market requirements for such a technology. The results of that analysis is being sent to ETSI by the end of February.
Devices using the new technology are expected to appear in 2012.