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What are the advantages of a multi-IMSI SIM card?

M2M & IoT services and applications typically work through SIM enabled devices, which are deployed in local markets and throughout the world. When these SIM enabled devices move out of the local home network, it can result in data roaming that could drastically affect the service delivery charge. Once a connected device is powered on, it will perform an authentication action with the network, which uses the IMSI as the key for this network.


What is an IMSI?

IMSI stands for International Mobile Subscriber Identity. It is a number used to authenticate a SIM on a cellular network. This ID is standardized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Each IMSI has an allowed network coverage list attached, which means a limited number of Operator Networks can be attached for a specific IMSI. This limit depends on the number of roaming agreements which have been negotiated and agreed between an operator and his network partners. 

The network coverage list is defined by a whitelist of Network Roaming Partners where the IMSI is allowed to attach.


The problem with a Single IMSI Solution 

The main issues with single IMSI are a lack of coverage and susceptibility to network faults. With a single IMSI, the SIM is geographically dependent, which means it can only attach to one specific operator in the country which belongs to the IMSI. For instance, taking the example above, the SIM could only attach to ‘T-Mobile’ in Germany, which could result in the device lacking the necessary coverage in Germany. However, in other countries, the SIM would be roaming and has the potential to reach multiple networks, dependent on negotiated roaming agreements.


Multi-IMSI Solution

An IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) is a globally unique number used to authenticate the device on a cellular network. The 16-digit IMSI is made up of three components: mobile country code, mobile network code, and subscriber number.  

A Multi-IMSI card can also be changed remotely, via over-the-air (OTA) technology. However, the difference is that it can host multiple identities, each with multiple operator roaming agreements, meaning it can give the best possible coverage where ever the device is located. 

With Multi-IMSI,  SAP IoT Connect 365 can offer multiple profiles in one. Users can switch between different network infrastructures instantly, allowing the use of several profiles within the same data channel. In this case, the SIM appears as a single operator, but with the ability to instantly switch operators and share data between profiles contained in one channel of the SIM.


Benefits of the Multi-ISMI Solution

With the  SAP IoT Connect 365 Multi-IMSI solution, the IMSI can be changed automatically. If a country is not covered, it means there is no existing roaming agreement with a local network operator. Thus, the SIM will swap IMSI to use an IMSI with an existing roaming agreement.   

Multi-IMSI connectivity means services are instantly available in over 180 countries and 540+ mobile networks.     

SAP IoT Connect 365's platform provides the capabilities needed to operate SIM cards fitted with multiple IMSIs in a single and unified environment.    

Multi-IMSI SIMSs offer the following additional benefits:  

  • Pre-configured Multi-IMSI and network roaming partners can be managed via a single interface    
  • The same MSISDN (phone number) is independent of the actual IMSI used    
  • Possibility to update IMSI via OTA, to add/remove IMSI during the lifetime of a SIM.


The Multi-IMSI Use Case

The benefits of a Multi-IMSI SIM card may not be felt as much as in the automotive industry, which is arguably the industry that IoT has grown fastest in. Application developers, car manufacturers and suppliers can overcome the challenges they face by running their IoT/M2M app on an IoT connectivity platform.

With SAP IoT Connect 365’s embedded SIM, car manufacturers and suppliers can integrate embedded SIM cards much earlier in the automobile manufacturing process or on-board units. These embedded units tend to be more resistant to temperature changes and impacts, making it ideal for fleet tracking regardless of what terrain their vehicles are in.

SAP IoT Connect 365’s Multi-IMSI SIM card ensures that fleet management benefits from network independent connectivity. This includes great coverage with our multi-carrier SIM and our on-board units are connected to the network with the highest latency.


A Typical 10-step IMSI Swap Scenario

In the example below, we describe the IMSI swap scenario. In this scenario, a vehicle with an embedded SIM is connected through a device to a German Network Partner with a specific IMSI (IMSI1). Later on, the vehicle is redeployed to Argentina and connects to an Argentine Network Partner of SAP IoT Connect 365 with a new IMSI (IMSI2).

  1. SIM is initially provisioned with IMSI 1 as an active IMSI 
  2. SIM attaches the German Network (MCC 262) 
  3. SIM moves to Argentine (MCC 722)
  4. SIM tries to reach network in Argentina with IMSI1
  5. No roaming agreement is allowed. IMSI1 is rejected by the visited network.
  6. The following message is displayed on the SAP IoT Connect 365 User Interface: "Location update rejected from VLR 34656022000 for IMSI 26201101234567891. This operator is currently not supported for this IMSI. A different IMSI or operator will be used for the network registration."
  7. SIM applet finds Argentina (MCC 722) as the new location 
  8. SIM Applet overwrites the active IMSI. IMSI1 is replaced with IMSI 3 according to IMSI Selection Table
  9. SIM sends a refresh command to the device and a new network attach with IMSI3 is performed
  10. SIM is connected with IMSI3 on an Argentine Network Partner of SAP IoT Connect 365.


John Candish Product Manager, SAP IoT Connect 365
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