The Internet of Things (IoT) together with embeded SIM (eSIM) technology are revolutionizing the way all sorts of machines get connected. The automotive industry has been at the forefront of this effort due to its global supply chain and the increasing importance of technology in modern vehicles. eSIM enhances the flexibility, manageability, convenience, and security of cellular connectivity in vehicles, making it a popular choice for modern automotive solutions. It enables cars to stay connected, secure, and up-to-date with the latest network technologies, ultimately improving the overall driving experience at home or in roaming.
eSIM-enabled connected cars can benefit from telemetry systems that monitor a wide range of parameters, such as engine performance, location, fuel consumption, as well as driver behavior in real time. This data is used for vehicle diagnostics, predictive maintenance, and improving vehicle safety. Furthermore, eSIMs are essential for fleet management applications. They allow fleet operators to track the location and performance of vehicles in real-time, optimize routes, and schedule maintenance.
In-vehicle services, including navigation, over-the-air (OTA) software updates, infotainment or in-car entertainment often rely on cloud-based platforms and require reliable, secure, and continuous connectivity for instant data transmission and reception. eSIMs that are integrated into the vehicle's hardware can be remotely provisioned with mobile network profiles, allowing drivers and passengers to customize their settings, preferences, and profiles through an always-on, built-in connection to the internet and cellular networks, regardless of the driver's or passenger's mobile device and location. In addition, eSIMs can be used to support in-vehicle safety and security services, such as automatic crash notifications, stolen vehicle tracking, and emergency assistance.
Assuring eSIMs are functional, properly provisioned and operational is undeniably crucial. In some industries and regions, there may be even regulatory requirements related to eSIM provisioning and testing, therefore ensuring compliance with these regulations can be vital. Moreover, for car manufacturers and service providers, guaranteeing customers a seamless onboarding experience leads lead to higher satisfaction and loyalty. While budget-friendly or economy cars may have fewer advanced features, luxury models offer high-end, bespoke in-vehicle technology. In any case, in-vehicle services are often seen as a selling point that contribute to a premium price for which buyers are often willing to pay and always eager to demand.
The GSMA has defined the specifications for eSIMs, whether for consumer or machine-to-machine (M2M) use cases. Those specifications include critical transactions such as eSIM bootstrapping, activation/deactivation of operational profiles, download of new eSIM profiles as things/vehicles move to a new geographical area, etc. All these procedures are mission-critical and can positively or negatively impact the end-user experience and the cost incurred by the enterprise, in this case, car manufacturers. It is, therefore, critically important to assure the reliability and performance of these transactions at a global scale.
What to consider when testing eSIMs:
- Verification that the eSIM has been correctly activated and provisioned by the mobile carrier or service provider. This step is essential to ensure that the eSIM is ready for use.
- Service availability to certify that voice, text messaging, and data services are available and functioning as expected.
- Roaming capability to safeguard the eSIM's ability to roam on foreign networks.
- Emergency services to confirm that the eSIM can connect to a safety net when needed.
- Troubleshooting to identify the root cause of problems and allow for more effective detection and resolution.
- Security to mitigate the risk of unauthorized use of the device, which can occur if the eSIM is not securely managed.
Overall, eSIM technology enables connected cars to become not only smart, but also data-driven vehicles with improved safety, convenience, and efficiency. It has opened the door to a wide range of new services and applications that continue to evolve and shape the future of the automotive industry. Testing is a fundamental aspect of the overall quality assurance and service delivery, ensuring eSIM-equipped devices work as intended, offer reliable services, and meet the expectations of users.
Finally, enriching eSIM capabilities with V2X (vehicle-to-everything) cellular connectivity built around 5G technology as standard communications for the automotive industry will define the next-generation ecosystem, whose careful and close testing and monitoring will ensure all critical functions work as expected. The roadmap is just starting and will require undisputable commitment from manufacturers, CSPs, and suppliers to make this an efficient, prudent, and profitable journey.