eSIM technology is advancing more than ever. With this recent availability of eSIM feature in many devices and machines, it is important to know the main difference between the two main types of eSIMs: consumer and industrial (also called M2M). Before getting into how they are similar and different, we should first note what the term “M2M” stands for “Machine to machine”. Meaning, the connection between 2 devices using communication channels whether wired or wireless.
The main difference between the two eSIM technologies is embedded in the devices they connect. Where M2M eSIMs connect industrial IoT devices and machines to wireless broadband, consumer eSIMs facilitates the cellular connectivity of consumer devices.
Consumer devices powered by eSIM include the classical devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. On top, consumer eSIM also connects consumer IoT devices like wearables and voice assistants. Industrial eSIMs are generally focused on industrial M2M and IoT devices. These devices where there is no end-user, are devices such as machinery, sensors, trackers, meters, so on and so forth.
A common factor when it comes to Consumer eSIM and M2M eSIM is that they are both standardized by the GSMA (under SM-DP and SM-DP+ systems). Both are compliant with the technical specifications outlined by the GSMA, allowing for their full interoperability and integration with other GSMA-compliant systems.
In addition to their different use cases, M2M eSIMs require different infrastructure because the IoT device is usually not controlled by a user. Plus most of such industrial IoT devices will need to include eSIM chip, sometimes in non-standard ways. And when a change is to be done to the industrial eSIM profile, it must be done remotely as there is no camera or device agent present that allows for operating the device. Thus, in M2M eSIM, full remote control and over-the-air capabilities are necessary.
In the other hand, consumer eSIM by standard has many built-in features to secure and maintain consumer privacy. This allows consumer eSIM to stay compliant with consumer privacy laws such as GDPR in Europe and CCPA in the US. One example is that the consumer has to approve an eSIM activation on a consumer device such as smartphone or tablet. And this cannot be do remotely without the user consent. Another aspect is that the consumer has all the settings on the device that would allow turning on/off the eSIM or even completely deleting the eSIM profile. The following table summarizes the main differences between consumer and industrial eSIM.
GSMA StandardSGP.22SGP.01System UsedSM-DP+SM-DPSample DevicesPhones, laptops, tablets, watches, voice assistantsCars, appliances, meters, sensors, machineryApplicable RegulationsConsumer privacy lawsIndustrial regulationsRemote ActivationNAYes
All things considered, it is important to remember that although Consumer eSIMs and M2M eSIMs focus on enabling the connectivity between 2 very different ends, they both are a gateway to the future. With the further development of eSIM technology, undoubtedly, the access to the internet for consumers and M2M devices will be ensured.
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