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Qualcomm announces major development in iSIM technology with "world-first" smartphone demonstration


Qualcomm has announced that it has collaborated with Vodafone, Inc., and Thales to exhibit a working smartphone featuring a new technology, iSIM, that allows for the functionality of a SIM card to be merged into the main processor of a device. This breakthrough will enable "commercialization of the technology, which could be rolled out in a host of new devices that will use iSIM to connect to mobile services."

A proof of concept (POC) demonstration was carried out in Europe that displays the commercial readiness and efficiency working on the current framework of the latest technology. The fully operational proof of concept device employed on Vodafone's network was based on Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G powered by a Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform, that comes with an inbuilt Qualcomm Secure Processing Unit running the Thales iSIM operating system for the demonstration.

Vodafone's Chief Commercial Officer, Alex Froment-Curtil stated:

Our aim is to create a world where every device connects seamlessly and simply to each other, and the customer has complete control. The iSIM, combined with our remote management platform, is a major step in this direction, allowing devices to be connected without a physical SIM or dedicated chip, making connectivity to many objects – the promise of the connected IoT world – a reality. It will enable our customers to enjoy the ease of multiple accounts on one device, while from an operator’s point of view, help eliminate the need for separate SIM cards and the additional plastic this consumes. We will continue working closely with Qualcomm Technologies and Thales to evolve further applications for this technology and accelerate its commercialisation.

The iSIM conforms with GSMA specifications and allows for augmented memory capacity, enhanced performance, and greater system integration. The latest technology demonstrates the transformation of SIM technology in which eSIMs are implanted into devices and need a separate chip. With the introduction of iSIM, a separate chip is no longer needed. Hence, it eliminates the need for exclusive space assigned to SIM services.

The press release from Qualcomm mentions:

iSIM technology is a significant evolution on existing eSIM solutions and delivers wholesale benefits to both consumers and telecommunications operators, further paving the way for mobile services to be integrated into devices beyond the mobile phone, taking the mobile experience to laptops, tablets virtual reality platforms, IoT devices, wearables, and more.

The iSIM is embedded in the application processor of the device and offers various benefits that include simplifying and enhancing device design and performance by freeing space formerly taken up within a device. It also integrates the SIM functionality into the main chipset of the device alongside other essential capabilities like modem, CPU, and GPU.

Senior Vice President and President, Europe/MEA, Qualcomm Europe, Inc., Enrico Salvatori stated:

iSIM solutions offer great opportunities to MNOs, free-up valuable space in devices for OEMs, and provide flexibility for device users to benefit from the full potential of 5G networks and experiences across a wide range of device categories. Some of the areas that will benefit most from iSIM technology include smartphones, mobile PCs, VR/XR headsets, and industrial IoT. By engineering the iSIM technology into the SoC, we are able to create additional support for OEMs in our Snapdragon platform.

The iSIM also allows for remote SIM provisioning by the operator leveraging the current eSIM infrastructure. Moreover, it has the ability to open mobile service connection capabilities to a number of devices that earlier on could not have SIM capabilities built-in.

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