With the rise of machine-to-machine technology (M2M), technologies found in handsets are also advancing into other new areas, which are reshaping mobile broadband communications as we know it. So much so, in fact, that research firm Markets and Markets reports that by 2017, the global M2M market will be valued at $86 billion at an annual growth rate of 26.1 percent between now and then. What is playing a large part in these figures? SIM technology.
A new report by consultancy group CSMG and commissioned by Ofcom, an independent regulator and competition authority for UK communications industries is warning that the expected boom of M2M communications will see traditional SIMs replaced with programmable software alternatives. The report, called “Reprogrammable SIMs: Technology, Evolution and Implications,” has left Ofcom advising regulators to monitor emerging SIM technology which could potentially allow users to swap providers without accordingly swapping SIMs to guarantee that consumers are being treated fairly.
Further, Petter Pedersen, senior VP for corporate and international business at Total Access Communications (News - Alert) (DTAC), explained that “the world population exceeds seven billion, but the number of mobile SIM cards totals 15 billion, which means the number of SIM cards per capita is around 1.2. These figures represent the power of mobile communications.” But as SIM technology continues to advance and seemingly define the state of mobile communications, it can also pose significant risks, as also suggested by the report.
In its introduction, the reports mentions that reprogrammable SIMs – sometimes referred to as Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC) or Soft SIMs – can have consequences for both consumers and businesses, saying, “The consumer would be able to select an operator at a later point in time, potentially using a menu of available operators and have that operator subscription downloaded to their SIM.”
While this could help simplify the process of changing mobile operators, it can also mean network operators “may be reluctant to bring eUICCs to handsets,” according to the report’s authors.
“If [eUICC] were to be further developed as a consumer proposition, then [Ofcom] must understand and monitor how eUICC-based solutions will be implemented in handsets, and the necessary processes involved in switching and swapping,” the report concluded.
Pedersen also predicted that the number of mobile SIM cards will continue to soar as wireless devices are transformed into automated, smart online devices, as reported by ScandAsia. "It is estimated that the use of SIM cards with machines will surpass those used in mobile phones by 2020," he even said.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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