The GSMA SGP.32 standard, published in May 2023, is a groundbreaking technical specification for eSIM remote provisioning, tailored for IoT devices that are network-constrained or user interface constrained.
This standard, which is based on the Consumer specification, introduces key changes such as the division of the LPA component into two modules – the IoT Profile Assistant (IPA) and the eSIM IoT Remote Manager (eIM). By simplifying the eSIM architecture, SGP.32 facilitates seamless provider switching, accelerates time to market, and is poised to significantly influence the IoT market.
What are SGP standards?
SGP standards, published by the GSM Association (GSMA), are technical specifications and frameworks used for the design and implementation of eSIM (eUICC) and Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) architecture. The GSMA is a non-profit industry organization that facilitates consensus building and harmonization across the mobile industry.
The SGP standards are crucial for the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, as they provide the technical basis for eSIM's "programmability" over the air, which is particularly beneficial for IoT devices. For instance, the SGP.32 standard, published in May 2023, simplifies the eSIM architecture for IoT devices that are network-constrained or user interface constrained.
Common standards, such as the SGP standards, offer numerous benefits. They help reduce costs by minimizing errors and redundancies and increase productivity and efficiency. Standards also mitigate risks, ensure consistency, and boost customer confidence.
They promote uniformity, eliminate trade borders, and set universal vendor requirements, making trade across international borders easier and promoting global competition. Standards also provide clarity about the properties of a product, increase legal certainty, and serve as a catalyst for innovations. They can affect an organization's quality, lead time, supply chain management, and costs, and have a positive impact on economies.
How SGP.32 evolved
The GSMA, a non-profit industry organization that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, has been at the forefront of developing technical specifications and frameworks for eSIM and Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) architecture. These efforts have been driven by the need to address the unique requirements of IoT devices, many of which are network-constrained or user-interface-constrained.
The journey toward SGP.32 began with the recognition that existing M2M (Machine to Machine) and Consumer RSP standards were not fully suited to the burgeoning IoT market. These standards were either too complex or did not cater to the specific needs of IoT devices, such as smart sensors, monitors, and trackers, which make up a large portion of large-scale deployments. As a result, many M2M providers relied on legacy technology and workarounds like multi-IMSI, which were not ideal solutions.
SGP.32, therefore, was developed to simplify the eSIM architecture for IoT devices, drawing on the Consumer specification but introducing critical changes. One of the key differences is the division of the Local Profile Assistant (LPA) component into two modules: the IoT Profile Assistant (IPA) and the eSIM IoT Remote Manager (eIM). This separation was designed to better accommodate the needs of IoT devices and to enable more straightforward management of eSIM profiles.
The new standard also aims to facilitate a more extensive range of services and players in the IoT ecosystem, allowing enterprises to buy services from a broader array of providers and enabling OEMs to manage their own devices more effectively. With the release of SGP.32 in May 2023, the GSMA set the stage for a more interoperable and scalable eSIM environment, although full compliance and widespread adoption of the standard are expected to take place later in 2024.
New features included in SGP.32
One of the key features of SGP.32 is the division of the Local Profile Assistant (LPA) into two separate modules: the IoT Profile Assistant (IPA) and the eSIM IoT Remote Manager (eIM). The IPA resides on the device and acts as an intermediary between the eSIM and the eIM. The eIM is responsible for managing profile state operations on the eSIM, enabling remote profile enabling, disabling, deletion, and triggering profile downloads.
The SGP.32 standard aims to simplify the eSIM architecture, allowing for seamless switching between providers and supporting a broader range of services and players within the IoT ecosystem. This simplification is expected to accelerate time to market for IoT devices and services. The standard also addresses issues such as vendor lock-in that were prevalent with M2M solutions, by enabling OEMs to switch connectivity providers or use multiple providers, and manage profile operations more efficiently.
Furthermore, SGP.32 allows businesses to shop around for services from different providers, enabling them to obtain global subscriptions and fostering a competitive environment that benefits consumers. The standard is designed to be scalable and has been tested in real-world settings, ensuring that it can support the growing number of IoT devices and services
In summary, the evolution of the SGP.32 standard reflects a collaborative effort within the mobile industry to create a more flexible and efficient eSIM solution for IoT devices. It addresses the limitations of previous standards and promises to unlock new potential for IoT deployments, with the GSMA providing the necessary guidance and specifications to ensure interoperability and security across the ecosystem.