Innovating to Drive Massive Cellular IoT Adoption: Where Relationships Matter

By Jean-Louis Carrara

Kigen Americas


January 12, 2023


Innovating to Drive Massive Cellular IoT Adoption: Where Relationships Matter

For cellular IoT to scale faster across all verticals, more needs to be done in relationships across both the semiconductor and cellular ecosystems to simplify the cellular device supply chain while maintaining high-security requirements. With this shared objective, we at Kigen are working with AT&T to bring down barriers, enabling the integrated SIM (iSIM) form factor and much more.

Kigen entered the US market as part of Arm in 2019 as a fabless SIM OS licensor and eSIM service provider. An independent company since 2020, Kigen has contributed to driving the vision of the integrated SIM, driven by a vision that all SIMs would eventually be integrated into the cellular SoCs, starting with Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). This offers a few benefits to start with: there would not be any discrete SIMs anymore, soldered or removable; no more SIM connectors; and savings in space, energy consumption, and a simplified supply chain. That would mean that all SIMs would become integrated (aka iSIMs) and eSIMs that can change the cellular service provider over the life of the device.

IoT on energy efficient networks such as those with LPWAN technology require a focus on ease of manufacturing and differentiated cost dynamics. AT&T had already announced working on the integrated SIM a year earlier, so it was a natural step for us to approach them for collaboration. 

To scale, LTE-M and NB-IoT solutions would need to eliminate discrete SIMs altogether, which would enable new device shapes like the smart label. After all, it didn’t make sense to add a SIM that took the same amount of space as the LPWAN modules and a significant portion of the combined costs. 

We were welcomed at AT&T and started working together. It is always a major undertaking to be onboarded as a security service provider and AT&T was helpful in guiding us through their process. Credit to teams on both sides, Kigen met all the stringent security requirements so we could become a fully validated provider in a few months. 

As a result, AT&T has enabled Kigen to generate AT&T’s UICC-H connectivity profiles for their PLMN 310-170 IoT Network that works with the Control Center. These profiles are rather compact and low-power devices friendly. They support eDRX and PSM power savings mode for LPWAN and suspend/resume of the SIM so that it stops consuming power when idle. 

Standard SIMs only use up to 200 microA when idling, so power saving may not be essential for all devices. However, such a saving may mean an extra year of operation for a battery-powered tracker when we optimize idling power consumption. The same profiles are also compatible with higher data consumption and are used in roaming across the globe.

These profiles can take multiple forms:

  • Removable 2FF/3FF/4FF, aka mini, micro, or nano plastic cards which are triple cut on a credit card-sized plastic body to allow selection of the appropriate form factor.
  • Soldered MFF2 and USON6 (3x2.3mm) or 8 (2x2mm).
  • Integrated into a cellular SoC such as Sony Alt1250 or Sequans Monarch2. These iSIMs are available within the cellular SoCs of Sony and Sequans in modules from Murata, Quectel, Sequans, Sercomm. These modules are already certified by AT&T, which means IoT devices can be self-certified using AT&T’s Trendi process.
  • Encrypted eSIM profiles, which can be downloaded from Remote Subscription Provisioning (RSP) servers like SM-DP or SM-DP+.
  • The SM-DPs are used for IoT and more suitable for fleet management, with a push process to download the profiles. SM-DPs are part of the GSMA M2M RSP specifications.
  • The SM-DP+ was designed for devices that have a User Interface (UI) that requires a user to scan a QR code that prompts a pulled download of the profile. SM-DP+ are part of the GSMA Consumer RSP specifications.

AT&T’s agreement enables companies purchasing AT&T connectivity profiles to source from providers like Kigen in any of the SIM form factors listed above. Through this relationship, customers can take advantage of the guidance on the process and solution, easing the step for validation and acceptance by AT&T teams. 

Until now, customers needed their own account on the AT&T Control Center to purchase AT&T SIMs. Control Center is where they can activate, deactivate, suspend data lines, and look at the data consumption of each data line associated with a SIM profile. Now, thanks to the AT&T SIM Transfer, companies can purchase AT&T SIMs from Kigen without a Control Center account. Kigen can still generate the AT&T profiles and transfer them later to the Control Center account of the company.  

That feature is particularly helpful when a company wants to build devices bundled with the AT&T network for multiple customers. Traditionally, that meant having a stock of AT&T SIMs associated with their customers’ Control Center accounts. With AT&T’s SIM Transfer, they can place their orders for all the profiles and have them transferred later by batch to their customers’ accounts. 

Our collaboration with AT&T is an example of how we innovate to reduce complexity for our joint customers while maintaining stringent security requirements. 

Kigen is also looking at associating the devices to connectivity service providers as a final stage of device provisioning prior to shipping. That is currently done on consumer eSIM devices that support WiFi with a UI to download the profiles from a SM-DP+. Still, it is not always possible on IoT devices that require cellular connectivity out of the box. The device will be associated with the connectivity profile at the last stage of provisioning, rather than at an earlier stage of assembly as the SIM is inserted or affixed.

The IoT device design constraints and supply chains are evolving—our goal is to simplify the cellular service association for your IoT solution. 

Jean-Louis Carrara manages the Americas region for Kigen, a SIM enabler, with the mission to place the (integrated) eUICC at the cornerstone of IoT security. His role is to promote the migration to iSIM (integrated form factor) and to eSIM (subscription management).

He was recently VP Europe for SK C&C CorFire, a mobile commerce solutions provider to Vodafone, DTAG, and Shell.

He previously held senior roles at Gemalto in North America, helping US MNOs integrate UICCs and associated remote management services. His team also helped SoftCard, a JV between ATT, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile, deploy secure payment services.

He has served on the board of 4G Americas (now 5G Americas).

Jean-Louis holds a Master of Sciences in Engineering from ECL, France, and an MBA from NYIT, USA.

Jean-Louis Carrara manages the Americas region for Kigen, a SIM enabler, with the mission to place the (integrated) eUICC at the cornerstone of IoT security. His role is to promote the migration to iSIM (integrated form factor) and to eSIM (subscription management).

More from Jean-Louis