Do you want to know more about the GSMA eSIM Discovery service? Then you're in the right place. Chris Li, the GSMA's Product Director, has been interviewed by Thales to get the answers to the questions frequently asked by mobile telecom operators.
Let’s begin and start with a definition.
1. What is the GSMA eSIM Discovery service?
GSMA eSIM Discovery acts as the bridge to enable seamless eSIM provisioning between a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and a mobile device.
Also referred to as root discovery, with eSIM Discovery, MNOs can register an eSIM event in terms of the Subscription Management Data Preparation (SM-DP+) address and event ID to the GSMA so that later devices can retrieve the information from the GSMA.
The device then uses the information to contact the SM-DP+ to download the actual eSIM profile to connect to customer MNO.
2. What are the benefits of the GSMA eSIM Discovery service for the MNOs and the end users?
Scanning of the QR code or manual entry of information is no longer required. Users simply provide the eID (eSIM ID) to the MNO. When the MNO finishes the provision of a service, GSMA eSIM Discovery acknowledges the events and is ready for the device to be switched on.
There’s more. Devices will automatically look up GSMA eSIM Discovery during the open box experience and connect to the network. This means that pre-arranged eSIM profiles can be provisioned to devices using the eID.
This makes the provisioning of consumer eSIM specification devices much easier than before. With GSMA eSIM Discovery, deploying eSIM profiles to thousands of devices is as simple as turning the device on and a few tabs to confirm the download process.
3. Why should MNOs support this provisioning method, and what systems modifications do they need to do?
There are multiple reasons why the entire ecosystem should support this one universal method of remote SIM provisioning that has been specified for the industry, by the industry as the preferred default method of subscriber profile activation, which the GSMA has been asked to manage.
One universal and standardised approach enables OEMs and MNOs to avoid multiple costly bespoke integration solutions. Whilst there are alternative methods of provisioning, most are subsets for specific use cases.
The SM-DP+ interface modification is simple. However, the eID does need to be captured from the many customer-facing channels to unlock the true advantage of GSMA eSIM Discovery.
In Germany, Vodafone’s implementation strategy is dedicated to standalone segments as a priority, e.g., Online device purchases where the eID can be captured by the backend logistics team. This strategy can then be extended to other channels over time for the capture of the eID at other point-of-sale locations.
4. How can one collect the device's eID when a customer subscribes at the shop?
The eID, in the form of a QR code or bar code, is conveniently located:
o On the devices' outer packaging
o In the settings menu of the device
o On many devices, by pressing *#06# on the phone’s caller software
Increasingly the device displays the eID in a machine-readable format such as QR code, bar code, or machine-readable font, which allows the eID to be easily copied, enabling a digital easier provision of service through GSMA eSIM Discovery.
5. How can one collect the device's eID when a customer subscribes from the MNO website or application?
Android, iOS and Microsoft Windows all provide dedicated APIs for accessing the eID for authorised application.
The best user experience through an MNO website would be to provide interactive guidance to help the customer identify the location of their eID or alternatively guide them to triggering a designated system shortcuts where available.
6. Who shall the MNO contact to purchase the GSMA eSIM Discovery Service?
The GSMA recommends you contact your SM-DP+ vendor.
7. How many devices are using the service monthly, and which device models and brands?
Today (February 2023), we see 5M+ unique devices leveraging GSMA eSIM Discovery for the streamlined eSIM provisioning process. These devices come from 20+ industry-leading brands, such as Samsung, Google and Oppo, across 80+ device variants, including Smartphones, Tablets, IoT modules and Computers.
8. In which countries do you see more prominent use of the service? Do you see trends?
Europe is the biggest user of the service thus far, where MNOs go live with their eSIM-first strategy.
This trend is only being magnified with the recent announcement of an eSIM-only iPhone 14 for the US market.
Operators, SM-DP+ vendors and OEMs around the world are engaging the GSMA to explore how they can leverage the industry service to provide a streamlined, next-level customer experience to activate eSIM devices.
9. What are the service's new features, and when do you plan to make them available to the market?
With the recently approved eSIM specifications, GSMA eSIM Discovery remains a critical part of the eSIM infrastructure. The GSMA is working with major platform providers and OEMs to develop push notifications as part of the specification enhancement. Other improvements to the service with the SGP.22 version 3 specification are also being planned.
10. How do you guarantee service availability and resilience?
Working with our partner, Thales, we regularly review GSMA eSIM Discovery service levels to align with the growth of the industry.
We routinely review capacity requirements and will soon migrate to a public cloud provider to leverage greater resilience and improved connectivity.
The GSMA will continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure GSMA eSIM Discovery remains fit for purpose and evolves with the eSIM ecosystem to provide the necessary infrastructure as needed.
More resources on eSIM Discovery Service