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eUICC vs eSIM: What is the difference between eSIM and eUICC?

You would be forgiven for thinking that eUICC and eSIM are the same thing, given that they are being used interchangeably by a lot of media sites and blogs. The reality is, however, that they are two different technologies.

In this article, we will define precisely what eSIM and eUICC actually are, and talk a little bit about the different benefits that they offer.

So, what exactly does eSIM mean?

SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module and is often used to refer to the small card-shaped chip that is inserted into smartphones and other mobile-connected devices. The SIM enables a device to be recognised on the carrier network and identified by the number associated with it.

Traditional SIM cards have been through a few iterations throughout the lifecycle of the technology. It’s perhaps hard to imagine now, but the first SIM actually resembled a credit card in size and weight! This is the first form factor of SIM, or 1FF as it is referred to in the industry.

Subsequent forms of SIM have been the mini-SIM (second form factor, or 2FF), micro-SIM (3FF) and the nano-SIM (4FF).

There is now also another form factor, the MFF2, which are embedded SIMs, soldered onto the device circuit board. This is the preferred form factor for connected devices that move a lot of work in very harsh conditions.

Confusion arises when people assume that an embedded SIM (MFF2) has remote provisioning capabilities (eUICC) because both MFF2 and eUICC are referred to as eSIM. So which one is eSIM? 

To avoid any confusion, we suggest the following way of looking at the definition:

"eSIM is the whole service - SIM + eUICC + platform;
eUICC is the software that allows provisioning."

In fact, eSIM is a technology that can be present regardless of form factor. Take the relatively new iPhone XR for example, it accommodates a removable SIM but also has an eSIM service built-in, allowing users to purchase a plan from another carrier and use it alongside their contracted calls, messaging and data plan.

To sum it up, eUICC is the software that allows a SIM to provision mobile network operators remotely, while eSIM is the whole service ecosystem. Neither is connected to the MFF2 form factor.

What does eUICC do that a UICC can’t?

It might be helpful to draw a comparison between old and new when looking at eUICC - a matter of eUICC vs eSIM if you will.

The Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) does a lot more than just the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM). In fact, it runs the SIM application whilst also storing various pieces of information such as the user’s contacts list, enabling the use of mobile data and managing data roaming across multiple carriers.

So, what is the difference between UICC and eUICC? 

eUICC stands for Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card. This is why many businesses confuse the embedded SIM MFF2 with an eUICC. However, eUICC is a SIM component that can be present in any SIM form factor to enable the eSIM service, including embedded. 

The most notable benefit of having an eUICC-enabled SIM card is the ability to run over-the-air (OTA) provisioning of multiple network operator profiles from a central management point. Once provisioned, the SIM profiles that exist on the card can be remotely managed and, if necessary, deleted.

OTA provisioning and management offers a level of flexibility that was simply not possible before eUICC was invented. User devices with an eSIM service can also be migrated in their hundreds in a matter of moments, and we are still only in the early stages of the technology’s lifecycle.

Velos IoT offers a wide range of solutions designed to maximise the potential benefits of eSIM solutions for your business. Get in touch to find out how our solutions can help you grow your business, increase your operational efficiency and enhance your end-user experience.

IoT SIM Guide Cover

To learn more about IoT SIMs, check out our quick guide to everything you need to know about IoT SIMs.

Interested in learning more about Velos IoT eSIM solution? Contact one of our experts by filling n the form below. 


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