Q&A interview with Suresh Kumar, senior chief engineer, Samsung Electronics
Suresh Kumar, senior chief engineer at Samsung, is responsible for the design and architecture of Telephony frameworks, which also involves the eSIM and UICC based solutions – which means, all the mobile and wearable devices we use in our day-to-day life.
In his 10-year career at Samsung, Suresh has been involved in the design and development of many projects, mainly for mobile platforms.
MVNOs Series: How is eSIM and IoT working hand in hand?
Suresh Kumar: These are two different verticals of technology; e-SIM generally defines the Identity (authorization, subscription or service provisioning), which means that, overall, the eSIM aims to provide you with an identity to be part of a network, whilst IoT defines communications; IoT comes with connectivity, the services that can be leveraged or the security aspect of the communication.
The horizontal deployment of these two technologies combined will have a huge impact on the whole telecom industry as well as the end consumer; the integration of communications and identity plays a major role in providing any successful service.
MVNOs Series: What are the top benefits and challenges that the eSIM and IoT penetration will have in the telco space?
Suresh Kumar: IoT is the future, and the eSIM is the entity which would drive for the success of IoT.
The eSIM is an integral part of telecom industry, it has an edge over any other technologies to drive IoT’s major deployment. The major reason being is that because eSIM enables identity aspects required for all services; which can also be identity or subscription based. Overall, this would ensure that wide variety of services are leveraged across the IoT space with full control.
The eSIM also enables innovation in the telecom space, which will ensure that services are better, and the revenues generated are higher, compared to the normal legacy networks. In addition, the subscriber base increases and the contract terms will generate more revenues for telcos. This can only happen if the eSIM is integrated as part of IoT deployment.
The major challenges will be leveraging the eSIM in the mobile space. Mobiles are an integral part of the IoT domain. At the present moment, M2M is flourishing and will help in the development of IoT. However, if the mobile industry does not consider inclusion of eSIM to their portfolio, the integration between the eSIM and IoT will be far-fetched. So, it is important that eSIM and IoT work together on all fronts.
At the moment, there are smart cities being planned and we need to monitor remote places wherein SIM/subscription changes would be really difficult. The eSIM will enable flexible and easy deployment and management of such use cases; as an example, we can see that power metres (IoT devices) are deployed with an eSIM embedded to ease future management of services and subscription.
IoT devices will ensure freedom to end users to switch contracts (with a click) and, based on the service provider, the eSIM can be provisioned at real time to a new service provider. This enables better user experience and better service leveraging.
MVNOs Series: As multiple standards are developed across the world, how will this impact interoperability between devices?
Suresh Kumar: If we look at the numerous standards across the world, IoT will be the one mostly impacted, compared to the eSIM, because of the number of groups, consortiums and forums that drive IoT. On the other hand, the eSIM is basically driven by the GSMA which defines the complete set of standards, making the eSIM much simpler to deploy.
When we consider the interoperability issues, the IoT framework actually poses a major challenge, again because of the various bodies involved in driving this solution, so we need to be cautious during IoT’s initial phases, which also considers integration between the IoT solutions (frameworks) and eSIM (identification within connectivity). Once we move forward from this phase and have figured out the breaking points in these technologies, the interoperability between these will be smoother.
When it comes to the eSIM, it is constantly evolving and proprietary solutions may take a back stage role once the standards get completely evolved. This would ensure minimal interoperability concerns within the ecosystem.
MVNOs Series: Is there a reality where OEMs will no longer work directly with MNOs but rather with their own MVNOs?
Suresh Kumar: At first, it may seem like working with your own MVNOs is the best method, as it gives you better gains and control than working with any operators out there, but we need to understand that we are responsible for creating the ecosystem, and this requires collaboration and coexistence amongst all the entities of the system – a system that consists of OEMs, MNOs, MVNOs, and eSIM vendors. (really great statement)
To reap better rewards in the long run, we all need to bring those innovative solutions to end users. Innovative solutions can only be created when we try to collaborate across various entities. So, what we can see here is that although the initial push is to work directly with respective MVNOs, in the long run most players in the ecosystem will try to collaborate with telcos, who are the major bearers of services.
As an example, previous proprietary SIM solutions developed before eSIM standardization seemed very promising, but they never came out to the market as we expected it to, and the main reason for that was because the device provider constrained within its own MVNO. This case proves time and again that going out of MVNOs and collaborating with other MNOs will always reap rewards.
MVNOs Series: What does the future of the telco market look like?
Suresh Kumar: Innovation is key - anyone failing to catch up with innovation will fall behind.
Everyone including telcos have a major role in this revolutionary or, future defining, integration of identity and communications. In other words – eSIM and IoT. All it takes for the telcos is to define their innovative solutions to leverage their services for end users directly or indirectly through other entities of the ecosystem.
The success of IoT depends mainly on the integration of the eSIM and IoT technologies. The eSIM’s penetration into the IoT market would improve security and integrity aspects of communications, which consequently would make telecommunications more successful.
MVNOs Series: What is Samsung’s involvement in the e-SIM and IoT development, and the integration between these?
Suresh Kumar: At the moment, Samsung has its presence in the wearable market wherein eSIM solutions are integrated and made commercially available across certain markets. For example; Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S3 and its variants.
Singtel is the latest inclusion to list of supported networks for eSIM based Gear S3 which was officially launched sometime back. It allows downloading and provisioning of Singtel operator profile.
Regarding the IoT space, the research is ongoing; we are finding partners with whom we can venture out and provide solutions to.
To conclude this I would like to add that the evolution cycle has been reduced from twenty years to ten years, and from ten years to five years. This means that once it reaches its peak, it moves on to the next technology, and at the present day, the technologies that stand for the next decade are eSIM and IoT.
IoT and the eSIM, independently, are already available but when they are integrated the span of these two technologies will increase hence the importance of making them work hand in hand. It is important that we make use of them and develop them to create solutions that will benefit the end consumer.
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