In a world first, Huawei has demonstrated a cellular IoT chip connecting to a Narrow-Band IoT (NB-IoT) network without using a SIM card.
nuSIM is an integrated alternative to existing SIM solutions, optimised for use in IoT networks. The rigorous downsizing of its SIM functionality combined with a straight forward digital provisioning process achieves significant advantages in terms of cost and overall efficiency. The low-footprint implementation allows the SIM functionality to be hosted within the communications chip, thus eliminating the need for an external SIM component.
The elimination of the physical SIM card simplifies the form factor of an IoT device as there are no additional contacts, circuit paths or SIM card holders to consider. nuSIM provides a minimum hardware and software footprint for cost-efficient implementations with minimal power consumption.
This brings simplicity as well as cost and time savings along the IoT value chain. Device vendors benefit from better design options due to smaller package size and extended battery life. SIM logistics, such as stock keeping or handling, are no longer necessary. IoT service providers can save costs through a simple digital process which puts the operator’s credentials onto the device during manufacturing time.
Customers also benefit from the lower device cost. In addition, they can start their mobile IoT project quicker and easier since a fully operational SIM is already on board.
For the demonstration, Huawei used a Quectel BC95-G IoT communication module based on Huawei’s Hi2115 highly integrated NB-IoT System on Chip (SoC). Using the dedicated nuSIM loader tool, an encrypted operator profile was downloaded to the security processor inside the chip, then decrypted and installed. The device successfully connected to a live NB-IoT network.
Chris Lowe, SIM Technology Lead at Huawei UK R&D, commented:
“Our Hi2115 NB-IoT chip, designed to minimize system costs for IoT applications, is the market leader. With the integration of nuSIM, we can connect chips to networks without SIM cards, removing another barrier to widespread IoT adoption. We are now moving towards security certification and look forward to continue working with our partners in the nuSIM community.”
An industry-leading group of companies introduced nuSIM as an open and interoperable solution at MWC Barcelona 2019. Since then, a growing number of partners have joined to create a viable ecosystem around nuSIM, including chipsets, modules, devices, conformance certification and provisioning infrastructure.