February 02, 2017

Universal SIMs: The IoT is a Global Evolution, and Requires Global Solutions

I have made no secret of my belief in the transformative potential of the IoT, nor of those factors that I believe will hold it back from reaching that potential and the markets through which it is most likely to achieve that IoT evolution.

As smart IoT systems become more commonplace, all over the globe, and especially for connected transportation and supply chain, the universal SIM is going to become evermore important. Several companies are working on it already.

For instance, Orange Business Services is set to provide near-universal SIM cards and worldwide mobile connectivity over the next three years for Chinese smart home and security company Chuango Security Technology Corp. Chuango has said it will use the Orange multi-roaming SIM cards in its IoT-enabled security devices in Europe, the U.S., and Canada. The new deal will significantly improve the user experience and security for Chuango customers.

This deal is only one of many use cases for Orange’s Datavenue product, which is designed to provide a simple, seamless management platform for businesses looking to launch IoT services, and bring them across borders.

The Orange SIM cards are installed in Chuango’s smart security systems and cameras at the production stage and tested before shipping. Once purchased, the user simply activates the device on a web portal for installation. The worldwide connectivity provided by Orange means that the security device works out of the box every time, no matter where the customer opens it. In addition, the Orange multi-roaming SIM means that it can work on different networks, further increasing resilience. Users pay a monthly subscription for the connectivity after an introductory period. Chuango manages the SIMs and connectivity using the Orange Datavenue management platform.

“We needed a partner who could provide worldwide connectivity for our new range of connected security devices,” said Ken Li, founder and CEO of Chuango. “We worked with Orange Business Services closely to develop our IoT concept and test it in multiple markets. The improved user experience provided by the integrated network will help us reach our ambitious growth targets worldwide.”

Of course, Orange isn’t the only company deploying universal SIMs. One quite interesting execution is from Irish connectivity firm Cubic Telecom, which specializes in supplying connectivity across mobile operators, and, based on one recent announcement, the company’s reach is only growing longer.

Audi, the German luxury auto brand, has begun equipping its new vehicle models with Audi connect SIM cards from Cubic. This will allow customers to immediately use Audi connect services all over Europe, with the accompanying flat data rate. The SIM card brings Audi connect services on board via an LTE/UMTS module with a download speed of up to 100mbps. In most European countries, the Audi connect SIM automatically accesses the provider for each specific country, as needed. This eliminates high, country-specific roaming charges and inconvenient roaming confirmations for the customer. These are all add-on, optional services that come with an additional flat monthly fee for customers.

The Audi connect SIM is used in all new models that include the second generation of the modular infotainment platform. These are currently the Audi A3, the A4, the new A5, the Audi Q2, and the Q7. Other model series will follow.

This partnership represents one of the biggest rollouts of Cubic’s continental connectivity network platform, which I’ve written about several times, starting from when it was first announced. This kind of cross-border, cross-carrier connectivity is only achieved through strategic partnerships across all related verticals and represents real positive movement in the IoT and connected transportation industries.

These multi-carrier, cross-border, universal SIMs are becoming ever more commonplace. In the consumer mobile sector, Google Fi is providing SIM cards that jump between T-Mobile, Sprint, and Wi-Fi networks seamlessly to keep customers connected as fast and reliably as possible. Meanwhile, many enterprises are growing internationally, and many others have customers that are doing business all over the planet (and soon off of it, if Elon Musk has his way).

I look forward to finding out what will come next on these platforms and others like it, and not just for consumer transportation uses, either. The possibilities for supply chain cellular connectivity and even for multi-national infrastructure projects designed to improve power delivery or other services are nearly endless, if facilitated through similar technological synchronicity.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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