Tech Tips #12: Local Profile Assistant for IoT devices
8 February 2024

Tech Tips #12: Local Profile Assistant for IoT devices

8 February 2024

One of the great things about eSIMs is the ease with which mobile users can manage the profiles they have available on their device. So, a mobile subscriber can easily download multiple eSIM profiles and then simply choose the one they prefer for a specific use case. In practice, few users will have more than a couple of profiles – but the possibility is there to have more. A typical scenario is to use a provider from the user’s home country when resident, but then to switch to a different eSIM provider when travelling.

Of course, all this requires some management. Since an eSIM profile is encrypted, it needs to be unpackaged and made available for use – and it needs to be visible among any others that are available. To achieve this, the GSMA came up with something called a “local profile assistant” or LPA.

As the GSMA notes, “the LPA (Local Profile Assistant) is a set of functions in the device responsible for providing the capability to download encrypted Profiles to the eUICC.” The eUICC is contained within the device and holds one or more profiles – and, as such, it does not need to be removed when changing profile (unlike classical SIM modules).

So, most mobile handsets have an LPA, whether built to Android’s specifications, or for iOS. However, one of the main target markets for eSIM adoption is the IoT. Unfortunately, many IoT devices – such as routers – do not currently have an equivalent LPA solution, which means that they cannot readily be used with eSIMs.

eSIMs are essential for IoT applications

eSIM has certainly started to make a mark in mobile – many business and consumer users have adopted multiple profiles, allowing them to switch with ease between carriers. However, while eSIMs are also expected to have an impact in the IoT domain, things have proven a little trickier here.

That’s because the LPA is really targeted at mobile devices (or, as the GSMA puts it, “consumer eSIM”). Where does that leave IoT devices? For many, out in the cold, because many (most) do not have an equivalent LPA capability – which means they are stuck with a physical SIM.

Yes, GSMA has recognised this and has delivered an “M2M eSIM” specification, which solves the LPA problem – but this hasn’t been widely adopted, because it’s complex and can be costly to implement. This has held back the market, which is a shame.

As a result, we have a market for which eSIM is perfect. The question is, how can we facilitate adoption of eSIM in the fast-growing IoT market – expected to surge in the coming years? After all, device manufacturers want to be able to ship their solutions globally – and they don’t want to continue with the costly process of inserting SIMs locally, or being stuck with a mobile service provider that doesn’t meet their needs.

How have we solved this problem?

Telecom26 has developed a Local Profile Assistant on Device solution (LPAd) to enable remote eSIM management on IoT devices. In simple terms, this enables Consumer eSIM to be adopted on routers, delivering the same degree of flexibility and freedom to switch providers to IoT devices.

The solution takes advantage of the OpenWrt project[1], a Linux-based, easily extensible distribution for devices. Telecom26 developed the LPAd solution, which, works in conjunction with the existing eUICC SIM on the device. This allows new eSIM profiles to be downloaded and managed from the router console remotely – so, owners and users of these devices can select the profile they need to match their requirements.

The solution will also include a secure eSIM management portal, so that customers can change profiles and track their consumption, charges, and activities, across the different networks to which they connect. URL or QR code-based activation is supported, so that new devices can be equipped with eSIMs using the LPAd solution.

Using the enhanced portal, new profiles can be added, or switched, providing the same convenience offered by Consumer eSIM solutions. All eSIMs will be visible, so the entire fleet can easily be managed.

What’s a typical use case?

Two scenarios illustrate the value of Telecom26’s innovation. First, dealing with permanent roaming. In this case, a device with an eSIM from Telecom26 is active in a country where permanent roaming can be a problem. So, the operators of the device – based in France – need to switch to a different eSIM profile.

They can do this via the Telecom26 portal. This is being enhanced, so that users can add another – local – eSIM profile to the account and, remotely install this on the device. Both profiles will now be visible, so the users can simply switch the Telecom26 profile for the new local one. Should the operators find that service from the local provider is unsatisfactory, they can easily add yet another profile from a different operator and switch to that.

A second scenario is the reverse of this. If the owner of a device fleet wishes to move from a provider that they commonly use when deploying in their home country because Telecom26 offers better data rates in other countries, then they can easily change to the Telecom26 profile for each device, on a case-by-case basis. So, they remain in control and can choose the best profile for their IoT devices, regardless of their location.

Telecom26 – standards-based, flexible eSIM for IoT devices

Telecom26’s LPAd solution provides an elegant fix to the shortcomings of the current approaches, bringing consumer ease to the IoT market. It is fully compliant with all GSMA certified eUICC consumer cards. The LPAd application also conforms to the GSMA’s eSIM certifications and is compliant with any approved SMDP+ RSP platform.

And of course, any router that is based on OpenWrt can benefit from the Telecom26 LPAd application – which includes vendors such as Teltonika, Celerway, and many others. As such, Telecom26 provides a simple, standards-based approach for unlocking the benefits of eSIM for IoT applications and devices – today.



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