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Podsystem tackles remote SIM problems with CTIA launch

Steve Rogerson
August 21, 2015
To eliminate the single point of failure generated by using a core network on both single network and roaming SIMs, Podsystem M2M will launch FreeWay at CTIA Super Mobility in Las Vegas in September.
The California-based company said FreeWay would also tacklethe costs and inefficiencies caused by the need to physically swap SIMs out of devices when coverage, pricing and other market conditions change.
Cellular IoT devices are often remote, as in agricultural applications, or roaming, such as in connected car applications. In contrast to consumer devices, they require a stable connection to send regular data packets, often containing mission critical information, in real time. Multi-network SIMs – which automatically detect signal loss and switch between local networks – are a good way to resolve coverage issues. However, to remove a single point of failure, the core network that provides the overall connection must also be backed up.
A recent report by Machina Research highlights the issues that the growing number of IoT devices will cause networks. The main problem is that networks are designed to deal with consumer usage and are not ready to cope with the very different demands placed on them by IoT devices. This confirms that reliability issues will only be exacerbated as the IoT grows, which is bad news for mission critical applications.
This is the main reason for developing FreeWay, which provides no-single-point-of-failure functionality. Combining a database of multiple independent core networks (or IMSIs) on the SIM card itself, with an application that swaps automatically between them if signal is lost, FreeWay provides a back-up in case of core network failure which, unlike other multi-IMSI SIMs, is completely independent from the network home location register (HLR). This eliminates all possible points of failure providing increased redundancy.
Additional over-the-air functionality means SIM profiles can be updated and IMSIs added remotely if network pricing or coverage change.
Despite the differences in the way consumers and developers of M2M and IoT devices use the network, they are similar in one aspect: they both want more control over their connectivity.
“Just as consumers are starting to see the advantages of the e-SIM, which will allow them to switch network provider without swapping the SIM card, so manufacturers of IoT and M2M devices need to ensure that their devices are future proofed,” said Podsystem CEO Sam Colley. “For example, if pricing or coverage changes on the network they are using, they need to be able to swap networks remotely, without removing the SIM from the device.”
Swapping SIMs in remote or roaming devices is a costly process that involves physically sending an engineer to the remote site and, in the case of embedded SIMs, rebuilding the device. FreeWay’s over-the-air functionality allows device manufacturers to change the profile of the SIM remotely, whether this is required to reduce costs by moving the SIM onto a cheaper IMSI, or send a completely new IMSI to the SIM to improve coverage. This gives device manufacturers peace of mind, knowing that the connectivity can be constantly adapted to suit the lifecycle of the device and that SIMs will never need to be swapped out.
“As FreeWay has been designed specifically for M2M and IoT manufacturers, the emphasis is on the ability of the SIM to automatically swap IMSIs in case of signal loss, as well as the independence of the architecture from any one network which eliminates points of failure,” said Charles Towers-Clark, managing director of the Podsystem group. “These are vital features to avoid loss of connectivity for M2M and IoT devices which are operating without human intervention.”