Maximising Efficiency in the SIM Lifecycle Featured

Maximising Efficiency in the SIM Lifecycle Image Credit: VladNikon/

Among the many questions digitisation raises, evolution of the SIM has pushed to the fore the question of how to address the blurring of traditional OSS and BSS lines of demarcation. Indeed, to run effectively it’s a question communication service providers increasingly need to address.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have to find more efficient and less costly ways of managing growth. As well as needing to reduce the spiralling costs of managing the SIM lifecycle end-to-end, there is an increasing need to provide ‘subscriber intimacy’. Doing both of these tasks effectively requires a foot on each side of the boundary between the two traditionally different sets of operational management systems.

My experience in crossing this divide suggests that what’s required is a new digitalised, cost-effective approach to complete SIM Lifecycle Management, a term that I suspect we’ll be hearing more about in the immediate future. From Ordering through to Activation, Provisioning, Sales and beyond, if a holistic approach can be realised, it will not only help mobile operators control and reduce the costs associated with MSISDN management but will also streamline network optimisation and SIM logistics processes while driving Net New Sales through digitalised opportunities and subscriber interactions.

eSIM: opportunities and challenges

At present, related to the emergence of eSIM in particular, a new layer of complexity is being added to the MNO’s process management requirements. These are already extensive, including the dynamic planning and maintaining of resources such as: MSISDN, IMSI, ICCID, IP Addresses, SIM Profiles and IMEIs. Global eSIM is already making an impact in consumer IoT and M2M markets as the new generation of SIMs enable multiple mobile operators’ profiles to be generated, securely downloaded and provisioned over the air based upon GSMA’s Remote SIM Provisioning specifications. As a result, more and more operators are deploying eSIM remote subscription management platforms.

Deployment of such platforms is driving an immediate need to align the network resources with eSIM profiles i.e. the phone will attach and download the profile and the network will need updating. This then raises questions such as where the eSIM will attach on first use (a nominated single network or an MNO per country?)  Volume is also a critical issue as each SIM will need an MSISDN and IMSI/network resource assuming it will possible to perform the activation using the network.

With the introduction of eSIM we can also expect the number of SIM connections on networks to increase dramatically as operators bring low cost data plans to market. Consumers must be able to maintain their numbers on one network while data may be purchased on another, with support for multiple SIM profiles needed to maximise coverage. This being the case, technologies that support Digital Subscriber Activation and Total Number Management  (to manage resources for all the on-off connections as people switch to the cheapest data connection) will become increasingly important. 

The traditional SIM: here to stay? For now, anyway

At the same time as eSIMs are proliferating, the challenge of managing and leveraging traditional SIM resources isn’t going away.  Driving sales of these resources remains important and, potentially, expensive because MNOs need to increase SIM supply while reducing costs and growing revenues at the same time. This can be done by deploying new upgrade tactics like self-service SIM swap, activating new services in real-time by assigning MSISDNs and other resources at the time of first use, designing new initiatives to encourage SIM reactivation, and more. The Internet of Things (IoT) and eSIM paradigms also add new challenges.

If those are some of the challenges, what’s the answer? We believe it’s an approach that can enable MNOs to take their customers all the way through the subscriber journey from one vantage point, enabling them to:

Mobilise their Salesforce

Address the complexities of number management

Handle network Provisioning, Activation and Verification

Manage the SIM/eSIM Activation Process

And that can be run either as a SaaS cloud offering or as an on-premise solution. As they attempt to win (or at least maintain) market share in the rapidly changing SIM landscape, MNOs would do well to consider a holistic approach to these challenges now. There is no benefit in relying on siloed legacy solutions when a more comprehensive approach is required.

Eric Hatton is the Senior Vice President of the Customer Activation & Network Services Business for Evolving Systems. Evolving Systems is a provider of real-time digital engagement solutions and services to more than 100 customers in over 65 countries worldwide. The Company’s portfolio includes market-leading solutions and services for real-time analytics, customer acquisition, customer value management and loyalty for telecom, retail and financial services companies.


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