Industry Insights

October 24, 2023

Exclusive Interview: TCA's mission to "avoid technology fragmentation"

We have talked to Jean-Philippe Betoin, a board member of the Trusted Connectivity Alliance and discussed the future role of the eSIM and how to achieve seamless eSIM adoption and interoperability.


Could you briefly explain the role of the Trusted Connectivity Alliance (TCA)?

TCA is a global, non-profit industry association that brings together leading providers of secure connectivity solutions for consumer, IoT and M2M devices.

With economies across the globe digitising rapidly, the work of the TCA to enable trust in a connected future is more important than ever to address evolving security, privacy and interoperability challenges.

We do this by leveraging our members’ collective expertise to deliver technical specifications, guidelines and requirements, as well as supporting test specifications, tools and services. We also engage extensively with other technical associations and bodies to support the continued standardisation of the global secure connectivity ecosystem, as well as developing resources to educate stakeholders on the technologies and trends shaping the industry.

What do you see as the drivers for eSIM adoption? What's the status and how will it evolve?

There can be no doubt that we have now entered the eSIM era, with the latest TCA eSIM market data clearly demonstrating surging adoption.  

Increasing uptake across the consumer sector reflects the launch of major eSIM-only smartphone models, with consumer eSIM profile downloads increasing by 130% in 2022. Industrial and M2M use-cases also remain fundamental in promoting eSIM adoption, with our data showing that M2M eSIM profile downloads increased by 148%. Now, following the release of GSMA’s eSIM for IoT Technical Specification (SGP.32) – which promises to significantly ease the deployment and management of eSIM-enabled IoT devices – we anticipate growing momentum across various emerging use-cases.

Yet it is important that as the eSIM ecosystem scales, it does so in the ‘right way’ to avoid technology fragmentation.

In the past, MNOs purchased SIM cards and spent a lot of effort interoperability testing of their SIM cards with mobile devices. With eSIM, it's the OEM that integrates an eSIM into the device. What is it that MNOs still need to care about?

With an array of eSIM-enabled consumer devices now available in the market, more operators are launching eSIM services and, subsequently, driving increasing numbers of subscribers.

This presents huge opportunities for operators to grow their customer base through seamless onboarding and activation, fully digitalised experiences and increased personalisation, but also raises the risk and impact of interoperability issues.

To deliver the experience consumers expect, eSIM profiles must be comprehensively tested before being deployed to identify and address any interoperability or compatibility issues with specific devices. But as the eSIM ecosystem expands, this requires navigating more devices, components and technical requirements.

How can TCA support the MNO community as eSIM adoption scales?

TCA has a proven record over decades promoting interoperability across the SIM ecosystem and is uniquely positioned to support operators, device manufacturers and solution providers.

Initiatives like the TCA eSIM Interoperability Service reflect this expertise and experience. By enabling operators to test how their eSIM profiles interact with an extensive range of consumer eSIM devices, the service helps to identify and address individual interoperability and compatibility issues prior to deployment. This helps operators promote consumer trust, reduce costs and accelerate time-to-market, and is particularly beneficial for those with more limited resource for in-house testing.

More broadly, TCA is committed to working with industry stakeholders to drive initiatives that promote trust, simplicity and sustainability across the secure connectivity ecosystem.

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