Report: Significant global eSIM growth in 2020

Regulation such as the European eCall initiative also supported increasing eSIM deployment across automotive use-cases

Data published by the Trusted Connectivity Alliance (TCA) showed 2020 had an 83% increase in eSIM shipments year-on-year, reaching 309 million units. TCA is the only organisation to provide a quantitative global view of eSIM shipments, reflecting the high representation of eSIM providers in its membership.

Increases in eSIM shipments were predominantly driven by the continued launch of new eSIM-enabled handset models, IoT devices and smartwatches across the world. Regulation such as the European eCall initiative also supported increasing eSIM deployment across automotive use-cases.

In addition to a rise in eSIM shipments, TCA data shows growing consumer and industry uptake for eSIM functionality where available. This is demonstrated by eSIM profile transactions – which refers to the number of times a mobile network operator (MNO) profile was downloaded to a device – increasing by over 300% last year.This growth was supported by an advancing eSIM infrastructure.

The number of eSIM Subscription Manager (SM) platforms deployed globally, which enable the remote provisioning and lifecycle management of eSIMs, increased from 270 in 2019 to 687 in 2020.

TCA esim 2020
Data Breakdown

“The latest TCA market data reflects the ability of eSIM technology to deliver the flexible connectivity and dynamic security needed to meet the demands of our connected society, both now and in the future,”comments Claus Dietze, Chair of the TCA Board.

“With the number of eSIM-enabled consumer, IoT and M2M devices continuing to rise, along with increasing uptake of eSIM functionality, the foundations are laid for significant and sustained growth. And continued expansion of the supporting infrastructure means we can also anticipate new business opportunities for industry stakeholders through the delivery of eSIM personalisation, lifecycle management and security services.”

In parallel, there was strong demand for traditional SIM form factors in 2020. Despite the impact of Covid-19 and the resulting decline in worldwide smartphone sales, TCA estimates that global SIM shipments remained comparatively resilient and stable at 4.8 billion units (Includes removable SIM and soldered SIM for M2M form factors. Excludes eSIM.).

TCA member data also shows that 2020 marked the first year of widespread 5G SIM deployments. The 5G SIM recommended by TCA promotes the highest levels of security, privacy and functionality in 5G networks to maximise MNO investments and support key use-cases, including connected vehicles, enhanced mobile broadband, massive IoT applications and critical communication infrastructures.

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