Let's discover the smart card contained in your GSM mobile phone (and every mobile device).
In essence, a
SIM card is a device that makes it possible to identify and authenticate you as a unique mobile device owner.
What is a SIM card?
SIM card with a microprocessor base is similar to a mini-computer with its operating system, storage, and built-in security features.
The SIM card can add, delete, and manipulate information within its memory on top of sending and receiving data.
A SIM card can be replaced by users and slides easily into a slot within your phone or mobile device.
SIM full form
SIM is the acronym for
Subscriber Identity Module.
When configured with modern cryptography, as recommended by NIST, BSI, ANSSI, SIMalliance, etc., SIM cards provide a state-of-the-art security level.
SIM card sizes and types
Different form factors (FF) co-exist:
The credit-card-sized SIM is now obsolete
A regular SIM or 2FF measures 15 millimeters by 25 mm
A smaller version of the SIM called the micro-SIM, or 3FF SIM card (Third Form Factor), is 12mm by 15mm
The nano-SIM or 4FF is 8.8 mm by 12.3 mm
eSIM card or embedded SIM is not removable and comes either plugged in or soldered. Its size is 2.5 mm by 2.3 mm, and its thickness is 0,2 mm.
SIM card sales, markets, and trends in 2022-2023
Eurosmart, 4.9B secure elements (from SIM cards to eSIMs) were shipped in 2021.
In 2021, the market showed resilience, and 5G experienced a strong adoption rate. Mobile operators started to roll out eSIMs en masse.
For 2022, vendors are facing a chip shortage and post-covid-related logistic challenges.
Supply in semiconductor chips will likely be constrained in the short term but will progressively ease in 2023 (Deloitte’s 2022 global TMT).
The eSIM is expected to boost demand and growth.
The Trusted Connectivity Alliance members reported 337m eSIM shipments in 2021, a 9% year-on-year increase. In its March 2022 study, the Alliance forecasts double-digit growth for eSIMs.
As of October 2022, the
11B mobile connections
, including IoT (+6.21% vs. 2021) and
5.49B unique mobile subscribers
(+2.89% vs. 2021).
Everybody knows about SIM card providers in their respective countries, but what about their manufacturers?
Top SIM card manufacturers in 2022
The very first SIM card was launched in 1991 in Finland.
Needless to say how much mobile tech has
transformed our lives since then.
SIM cards are an integral part of mobile telecommunication, and their number exceeds the world's total population: 11B active connections using a SIM vs. 8B people on the planet.
But, again, have you wondered who the primary SIM card manufacturers in the world are?
You might be wrong if you think mobile network providers make them.
Thomas (MarketWatch 2021) states that top SIM card manufacturers include Thales, Giesecke & Devrient, Idemia, Valid, Watchdata Systems Co., Datang, DZ Cards, and XH Smart, to name a few.
What does a SIM card do?
Designed initially to access mobile phone networks, a
SIM card authenticates the subscriber and ensures the user is accurately billed for used airtime.
The SIM also stores your phone directories, messages, information on roaming across different networks, and many other value-added voice and data services.
End-users can instantly access news, games, chat, dating services, and mobile payment applications with an easy-to-use interface.
The handset model does not restrict it. This feature enables operators to reach all of their customers.
SIM card technology: key for operators
Operator-centered services such as call completion and
automatic handset configuration help reduce customer billing costs and increase their Average Revenue per User ( ARPU).
The SIM is the final link between networks and end-users, and no customer can connect to the network without their SIM card.
Network operators can communicate, download applications, and manage a SIM card remotely using
Over-the-Air (OTA) technology.
For example, with OTA, network operators can update
SIM cards with new applications and services without requiring users to upgrade their handsets or visit a store.
SIM cards for the Internet of Things
The IoT demands more robust, or 'ruggedized,' SIM and eSIM than those employed in consumer devices.
IoT SIMs and eSIMs will need to endure greater vibration, humidity, and temperature extremes. They are designed specifically and have lower-power designs and longer life cycles.
Where do we fit in?
Thales is a primary
SIM card manufacturer and global solution and service provider.
Thales SIM cards provide interoperability and compliance with the latest standards, including new form factors such as the 4FF (Third Form Factor) or the eSIM (embedded SIM).
This feature ensures that our SIM cards can connect to networks across the globe with any mobile phone or portable device (such as PDAs or Tablet computers).
Thales also provides devices, software, and systems to manage everything from a single user's SIM card to an operator's entire distribution of SIM cards.
More resources on SIM cards and related technologies