Delving into the prospects of SIM cards being replaced by blockchain-enabled software. Imagining the circumstances and weighing the possibilities that may lead into the ultimate disruption.
As a still-nascent technology with barely any practical proven capability or scenarios of live performance, it is yet being regarded as a possible fix to a long list of infamous disarrays. At the same time it is also emerging as a potential threat to a broad set of conventional trades with its sheer architecture in plain view.
The ability of blockchain to link third parties in asset exchanges, data or resource sharing at a greatly minimized expense is spell-bounding. This characteristic elimination of middlewares in blockchain technology appears alarming to a number of companies that have dug their roots posing the sole trustworthy and serving intermediaries for actors in respective fields offering the services which are soon to be obsolete.
Two of the major telecommunication companies are making news globally. One of them has entered into a significant merger and the other has received a patent two years back to replace SIM cards with blockchain technology. Although the telecom companies are essentially seen as infrastructure providers, they aren’t left alone by the threat posed by blockchain technology.
For instance, blockchain technology makes it possible for people to monetize their unused bandwidth, mobile data cap and SMS and phone calls. This will create alternative communication networks capable of offering a cheaper option to telecoms thereby taking down their revenue.
Yet another example highlights how cheap and fast transfer of digital values is possible with the backing of cryptocurrencies. The popular electronic payments settled on the phone are dulled in comparison.
Trouble With SIM
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) is the tiny chip that remains embedded in our cell phones. It consists of a phone number and a carrier associated with it. Most people are aware of it. Travelling overseas necessitates frequent swapping of SIM cards. The problem is the trouble involved in the whole process, that too in between flights and through jet-lags. Next, with digital transformation and handling systems that use multiple IoT devices, it becomes a challenge. As in, it is impossible for IoT to seamlessly track data if the SIM is swapped overseas. If digital transformation is about seamless passage from one hop to another. Failure to deliver the same defeats its purpose of being.
How, then, should the other thing work?
The all knowing SIM card may be replaced by a software-kind of option that should be secured by blockchain. A device connected to the internet may create a user account that is capable of storing more than one eSIM along with the services that come with it. The device may also create a blockchain record with a eSIM certificate and an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI). The eSIM linked to the account and activated through the user’s mobile device. This vSIM could now be assigned to more than one mobile device registered under one account. They can also be transferred among devices or users.
This reinstates the seamless IoT use making it easier for more number of devices and people.
To the new entrants into the sphere of blockchain technology, it is hardest to get a grasp of the private key – that secret code that will allow full access to a blockchain account and the knowhow to properly secure it. Since smartphones are easy to use and have already entered into the human nervous system, embedding a blockchain chip and applications into them makes sense. This step, if succeeds, will catalyze the blockchain adoption
Now a private key is automatically generated in the eSIM card once it is blockchain-enabled. This phone can now be conveniently used for blockchain enabled authentication and transactions. Those exact features will also be usable by the connected IoT devices.
From Here To…
The value of blockchain in telecoms was estimated to be worth $46 mn. This is expected to rise to $1 bn by 2023. From the above examples it is quite understandable, to what extent the technology may elevate the ‘convenience’ aspect, let alone the impenetrable security and low cost.
Considering all of the above, the telecom industry for one has always been open to innovation and has never shied from embracing a newer model at any cost. Invention of Radio disrupted landlines before messaging disrupted phone calls. Next, the internet challenged communications overall. Therefore, it is also expected that the same industry will certainly warm up to something as potentially gainsome as blockchain technology.
However, the relationship between Blockchain and eSIM will require time to culminate into a marriage.