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Telenor Connexion explains the role of Embedded SIM for Connected Cars

“The embedded SIM (eUICC) can enable flexibility for the OEM to change operator remotely over the life time of the car. This can also be used for  regulatory reasons where there might be restrictions to use roaming SIM cards.” 

       Andrea Sroczynski, Head of Global Automotive Sales, Telenor Connexion AB

The GSM Association  or Groupe Speciale Mobile Association, known generally as GSMA has revealed the concept of ‘Embedded SIM’ along with its technical specifications sometime back.  Not only has it garnered the attention of many global Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) but it also brought considerable non-telecom players on board to ponder as to how this new standard of SIM technology will radically change the M2M industry, and particularly the connected car industry. 

Para-phrasing GSMA…. 🙂  

” All parties in the M2M ecosystem will struggle if we remain solely dependent upon the traditional SIM card, which is predicated on only associating with one network operator. This is because changing SIM cards is problematical for many business-to-business (B2B) customers, when noting that many M2M devices are remotely located, often hermetically sealed.” 

Andrea Sroczynski-Telenor-Embedded-SIM-Connected-Car
Andrea Sroczynski

Even the major telecom giants believe that through Embedded SIM, they will gain new business opportunities from a world of intelligently connected services and devices, reduce the logistical costs associated with handling traditional SIM cards and retain existing SIM security levels, all with minimum impact to their current network infrastructure, and minimum cost of integration and testing. While many are still in their R&D phase, some of them have already started rolling out these SIMs in the market, AT&T being the most recent example.  Everyone is waiting for a ubiquitous adoption of Embedded SIMs by all telecom operators but no one knows the exact time-frame and the strategy that an MNO will look forward to. So what exactly is an Embedded SIM? What are its benefits for the automotive industry? Are Embedded SIMs going to completely replace the traditional SIM card business?

Why not understand this from a telecom expert itself? In a recent Q&A discussion, Shamik Ghosh of Telematics Wire interacts with Andrea Sroczynski, Head of Global Automotive Sales, Telenor Connexion AB. Andrea has more than 15 years of telematics industry experience. Her previous experiences include positions as Director Technical Program Management for Telematics Programs in Europe, e.g. BMW ConnectedDrive and leading engineer for Conditional Access and Security layer in telematics protocols at Vodafone. She is also a valued member of the GSMA Connected Living programme (erstwhile Embedded Mobile). She is also the Head of Region Germany (DACH)

Let’s get to see what connected car is from an MNOs perspective…. 🙂

What are your views on the current market status of Connected Cars?

The status of the OEM equipped connected cars is clearly different per region currently. Some are more mature or even a commodity already (US, Asia) and in other areas like Europe still in the development phase. This is clearly driven by the personal needs by the people, e.g. in US safety & security have been features the drivers are willing to pay for, compared to Europe. But also the diversity of the market such as Europe makes the rollout more difficult for a central driven program setup like the ones form the OEMs. Therefore, only OEM brands which has driven either the technology, or the Brand value, started already a decade ago and still offer and evolve the program. Other means to connect the vehicle with extra boxes for e.g. insurance reasons are mature in the market where the value for the driver is clearly given, e.g. Italy or UK.

What has influenced the outlook of MNOs to think beyond mobile telephony and embark into the automotive sector over the past few years? 

Telenor has been a pioneer with more than a decade of experience in connected vehicle. Partnering with for example Volvo we saw clearly how connectivity and digital services in the car would become an important differentiator for the OEMs. There are not only clear synergies to enhance safety (such as eCall) and convenience (such as remote heater start, door unlock etc.) and infotainment services (music streaming etc.) for the customer, the benefits are also vital for the OEM – already using proactive service bookings, remote diagnostics etc. to save costs and increase revenues. An MNOs contribution is to support these services for international deployments with the highest quality of service possible. They take a clear life-cycle perspective; i.e. supporting connected services from design stage, throughout production and operational phases.  There are clearly different requirements to connect a vehicle than a human being or any other machine in the classical M2M approach. It requires comprehensive cooperation in the whole product life-cycle to ensure theOEM can deploy services that will be safe, secure and high-end quality – and also evolve over time.

Globally many telecom operators are offering connectivity solutions in the automotive sector. What makes Telenor unique in terms of offerings?

As said we have been the pioneer and different from others MNOs started with connected vehicles not grow into from connected “normal” machines. The high quality requirements of the automotive industry as well as the unique requirements from a machine perspective using voice has been considered from the scratch for the setup of our whole technical environment as well as our whole organizational setup. In addition to the pure managed connectivity solution we are also offering connectivity agnostic solutions for encryption of the communication, a smart solution to compress the data volume or for opening the eco-system and enable new flexible business models via a split billing platform. But overall I believe the long term experience and knowledge of our whole team within the global automotive sector makes as unique to the other MNO offerings.

Telenor has maintained synergy with an automotive OEM. How challenging is this inter-disciplinary collaboration between two different players with different core competencies?

Both parties need to understand each other demands and constraints. Especially the lifecycles in telecommunication or automotive industry are truly different which makes synchronization and also a clear understanding necessary. The global rollout strategy of one platform by the car manufacturer vs. the diversity of telecommunication systems and players around the globe is also a challenge to be understood and considered by the setup of connected car services. Telenor setup a dedicated entity, Telenor Connexion in the M2M space and especially for the automotive world – to ensure a strong focus of the on the demands and needs of the OEMs and the car customers.

How the usage of ‘Embedded SIM’ is evolving in the automotive space, particularly for the ‘Connected Car’ segment?

The embedded SIM (eUICC) can enable flexibility for the OEM to change operator remotely over the life time of the car. This can also be used for  regulatory reasons where there might be restrictions to use roaming SIM cards. What need to be considered is that the eUICC approach has impacts on setup and operation costs as well as adding some complexity to the telematics service backend.  In addition there need to be a complete ecosystem in place, where also the commercial and legal  framework is fully developed, this may still take a while depending on region/country.

Do you think that the Pan European eCall mandate would drive rapid adoption of embedded SIM cards?

Well, what is for sure is that a SIM Card needs to be embedded to support the pan European eCall. Therefore this development has started and more and more new car models in Europe will be equipped with a SIM card inside. But if the eCall would be the only reason for equipping the vehicle with a SIM Cards that would cause only costs on both ends – automotive OEM and MNO as this card will not drive any other benefits or revenue. Therefore the solution should be open and flexible enough to also add other added value services which benefits the OEM, the driver any maybe even other players within the eco-system, e.g. Insurances. Then also the MNO can benefit from this.

Putting an in-vehicle embedded SIM while already having a private SIM card; how do you think would it impact the tariff and billing scenarios for the end-users?

I think there need to be clear distinction between vehicle-centric and user-centric services. The vehicle centric services, like eCall, bCall (Breakdown call), and dealer connect or diagnostic services are bound to the vehicle or like remote services (heater, door status, gas status) cannot even processed without an embedded SIM. Mostly these kind of services will be bound to a vehicle price itself (lifetime) or warranty period. The communication will be bundled into these services and either paid by the OEM itself or not visible for the driver/owner itself. And thus no extra contract is necessary. But if you think of some high data volume services – like hotspot in the vehicle- we see it critical that the user is willing to have an extra contract for the connectivity in the car and maybe even with a different MNO as he has his normal telecommunication contract with. A complete solution to bundle in-car usage with all possible MNO contracts of the drivers inside would mean a massive and long work of integration of MNO back-end billing-system even beyond MNO Group or Alliances which is unlikely to happen. A smarter integration of the in-car use of the mobile phone with tethering could be therefore a better solution.

While already dominant in Europe and North America, does Telenor have any plans to expand their business in the Asian market?

Telenor Group has a clear market focus in Asia with network in e.g. India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bangladesh. We have also identified the Asian market clearly with strong demand for M2M services and we have an office in Japan to support different Asian customers like Fuijtzu Ten and Hitachi Construction Equipment etc.We are looking forward for more customers needing our support either in Asia itself or for Asian customers to use us for an easy, reliable and future proved solution for their global rollout strategy.

We would like to express our special gratitude to  Kristina Grandin, Communication Manager at Telenor Connexion AB for coordinating this exclusive interview. 

This interview was originally published in the Jul-Aug issue of Smart Automotive print magazine. 

[whohit] Telenor Connexion explains the role of Embedded SIM for Connected Cars [/whohit]

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