Until now, the most popular way to connect a phone to a network was through a SIM card. It meant that phones had to support slots for SIM cards, and to support two connections, you needed two slots, which comes with a significant hardware real estate challenge. In some cases, the hardware required by those SIM slots was representing up to 25% of the device hardware real estate design.
eSIM changed that. eSIM is a SIM soldered in the device that significantly improves the device's real estate, reducing the necessary space by 99%. The first eSIM devices were supporting GSMA's initial specification, allowing only one active profile/subscription at the time, even though the SIM chip was allowed to store multiple profiles and to switch between them. It means that most, if not all, smartphones have kept a SIM card slot to allow the end user to have two subscriptions active at the same time.
GSMA has since published version three of the consumer eSIM specification, introducing MEP, Multiple Enable Profile, allowing the possibility to support two active operator profiles in a single SIM. The capability to store multiple non-active subscriptions and to switch between them remained.
Such capability opened the door to eSIM-only devices as the component soldered into the device was allowing the OEM to distribute dual SIM devices without the need to implement a physical SIM reader.
For many years now, Apple has been a strong player pushing for eSIM adoption. The expectation being that future devices would no longer support SIM trays and by optimizing device real estate they would be able to implement the benefits of other features such as battery life.
Google started to support MEP from Android 13 and Apple from iOS 14.5.
MEP has been a key enabler for Apple to launch eSIM-only iPhones in the United States, and it will be an essential feature to deploy eSIM globally, especially on more entry-level devices as most emerging markets require having two subscriptions available at the same time.
At Oasis, we believe that the arrival of MEP feature is an important milestone for the adoption of the eSIM beyond consumer devices such as smartphones. We believe that for high-end IoT products, such as those in the Automotive industry, it will also bring a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility will be key as we see an increasing demand for dedicated connectivity for entertainment or telematics.
However, MEP is not a feature that can be applied to all products. This is the case with very simple battery-powered IoT devices, where supporting two active profiles at the same time could be costly and impact in terms of power consumption.
In conclusion, MEP represents more than just an opportunity; it is the essential pathway to achieving mass-market adoption of eSIM technology across a wide range of market segments, including consumer devices, IoT, and M2M applications. The evolution of eSIM and the introduction of MEP have and will continue to pave the way for a more versatile and efficient connectivity solution in an increasingly interconnected world.
To find out more about MEP and eSIM adaptation, speak to a member of the Oasis team now.
About Oasis Smart SIM
Established in 2011, Oasis Smart SIM is a France and Singapore-based company simplifying Telcos, Service Providers and OEMs’ adoption of eSIM by providing a range of GSMA-certified eSIM infrastructures, platforms and services designed to simplify technology. Oasis Smart SIM is now a member of the GSMA and TCA (Trusted Connectivity Alliance), ranked by Counterpoint Research as the 6th Global eSIM Management Solution Provider in 2022.
Oasis Smart SIM is a subsidiary of Tata Communications Limited, a digital ecosystem enabler powering today’s fast-growing digital economy.