back to article Mind out, Apple: Ericsson leads charge against the SIM

Gemalto and Ericsson have partnered to create SIM-less mobile phones aimed at machines rather than people - though the technology and techniques developed will be well-received in Cupertino. The partnership will create a provisioning system to allow things (cars, electricity meters, etc) to be fitted with an embedded mobile …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    The nice people at Gemalto also do id cards for the Saudis et al see -

    Gemalto is contributing to 15 national eID programs: in Europe (Belgium, Czech republic, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Lithuania), in the middle east (Qatar, Oman, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) and in other areas.

    Another gem (geddit?)

    “The DVLA is recognised as a centre of excellence for the issue of high security national documents like the Driving Licence and Biometric Residence Permit,” commented Simon Tse, Chief Executive Officer of DVLA.
    this one from

    The dvla are in the business of issuing Biometric Residence Permits - who knew?

    1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

      Oddly enough I saw that back in May last year, and took it up with the DVLA who responded (after some chasing):

      DVLA has issued the Biometric Residence Permit on behalf of the UK Border Agency since November 2008. This is an excellent example of cross-government co-operation. the UK Border Agency subcontracts the work to the DVLA.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good ol'SIM

    Good article.

    It's nice to see once in a while an article talking about the SIM and its fantastic success.

    Certainly the most secure crypto device everyone on the planet is exposed to on a daily basis, without realizing it.

    I wish the article went through a bit more details about the physical security features of these chips. They were already impressive 20 years ago (when I worked at Gemplus, now Gemalto when they were designing the first gen SIM cards) and I imagine they're even more comprehensive these days.

    1. cheveron

      Re: Good ol'SIM

      The SIM may be secure but GSM communications used to be trivial to intercept. When I lived in Australia I had a CDMA phone which did not have a SIM and was seriously non-trivial to listen in on (being packet based). Also got much better reception on the outback than GSM. However it was less popular and I think Telstra ended up dismantling the CDMA network.

      1. Christian Berger

        Re: Good ol'SIM

        Well the problem of GSM interception lies in 2 parts.

        1. Man in the Middle attacks are easily possible. (Basestations can turn off crypto)

        2. The crypto is fairly weak. (by todays standards)

        CDMA is probably not much better in that regard, and packets have nothing to do with it. There's just a far smaller crowd of people dealing with CDMA security.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " Apple has been (successfully) leading a project to extend the standard to encompass embedded SIMs"

    Someone doesn't follow the proceedings of ETSI SCP REQ, which is where the industry is valiantly attempting to standardize this. Methinks more checking of facts is needed before making such a blanket statement.

    It comes as no surprise that large actors are getting fed up waiting for standardization.

    Anonymous 'cos I'm too close to the (lack of) action.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge


    If eCall is required (which is another debate), what's wrong with using a SIM for an MVO which has roaming rights on every network in the EU to achieve this?

    I get the feeling this idea of getting rid of SIMs is a solution looking for a problem.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: eCall

      Lets hope the eBureaucracy isn't quite as incompetent/corrupt as the corporations seem to be pushing it to be.

    2. P. Lee

      Re: eCall

      You probably don't even need that. 999 calls are allowed on any (UK) network.

      I don't know how soldering the sim to the motherboard fixes anything except a transfer of power between network and manufacturer.

      I don't want the manufacturers to keep power after the sale. The split in responsibility is a good idea.

      1. Andrew Jones 2

        Re: eCall

        When I was having problems with O2 a number of years back - a network engineer popped out to visit me with his Engineering iPhone to show me that the problem was with my phone not the network - because his iPhone was able to get about 3 bars more signal than my phone could, the fact that every other O2 mobile in the village got substantially less than his almost full signal was besides the point.

        In any case I briefly mentioned that most of the time the screen said Emrg Calls Only - and he off-handedly told me that while I was supposed to be able to make emergency calls via another network when I was out of signal of the "home" network, the network operators in the UK had never come to an agreement about this - and so while the phone claims I can make emergency calls - the calls will fail to be connected.

        But then.... this is the Network Engineer who upon being asked to look at the cell in the village a number of times - because he could not contact the owner of the field where the cell lives - would "verify" that the cell "looked" OK through a pair of binoculars from the road. So - who knows if he was telling the truth or not - I can say that since 1998 when I got my first Mobile Phone (M3788e on Orange) I have never actually tried ringing 999 from either my home network or any other UK network.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: eCall

          Calls to 112/999 are now supposed to work if you don't have any coverage by your own network but you're within coverage of other networks. Some countries also allow calls to 112 even if you don't have a SIM in the mobile, but not the UK.

          If the phone's saying Emergency Calls Only or similar then the number of bars is the coverage for whatever network the phone has decided it will use to make an emergency call, not O2, so he was probably saying something to shut you up. The binoculars were probably a quick way of filling in the paperwork saying that the base station had been checked over so he could disappear. Such professionalism...

        2. Christian Berger

          Re: eCall

          Actually till recently you could even call the German emergency services without a SIM card.

    3. N13L5

      Re: I get the feeling this idea of getting rid of SIMs is a solution looking for a problem.

      The day Apple and other's have their way, we will have to rely on their goodwill and decisions how and when to let us switch providers.

      Contracts that limit our ability to use a phone on different providers are not going to be too far behind.

      Basically, this makes the day they only offer phones without SIM card slot is the day I will stop buying them.

      This may take a few years of offering both, but the control freaks at greedy corporations will eventually push this through, unless we get enough people to boycott phones with that nonsense.

  5. Rupert Stubbs

    More bloody link bait

    I know I shouldn't, but what on earth was the gratuitous dig at Apple about?

    "Mind out, Apple" implies that Apple is under threat from this development - when in fact Apple has been one of the cheerleaders of the idea. "Well done, Apple" are obviously words that The Reg is these days unable to type...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More bloody link bait

      A reference to Apple Inc's highly developed connoisseurship of "vendor lock-in" and "walled gardens" ...and the corresponding brazen animosity to niceties like SIM cards?

      Just a guess.

  6. Gerard Krupa

    Much nicer project

    What I'd much rather see is an effort towards giving people a single personal access point through which all their devices (phones, cars, fridges) operate instead of providing people with yet more ways to pay five times for data for which they should only need to pay once.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Much nicer project

      As of right now, that's physically impossible due to the distances involved for the car, mobile, laptop, and tablet. Home appliances are easy enough to attach to a home network, but all those devices above can roam, and someone needs to foot the bill to keep them connected even in the middle of nowhere, and as long as you're not the owner of that particular link, you'll have to go through someone to stay connected. That's always been the problem. Someone else owns the road: be it government or a private enterprise.

  7. Christian Berger

    Why not make it user accessible?

    I mean that would obviously be the way to go. It would be just like a password.

    I mean it's not like it hasn't been done before, the German "B-Netz" (second generation analog radio phone network, now with direct dialing) did it like this:

    The solder bridges defined your phone number and wherefore where it was billed too.

  8. Nuno

    leave my SIM alone!!!

    I want to be able to use my contract with whatever phone I want, like borrow one if my phone dies, and I want to be able to use my phone in whatever operator I feel like, as in traveling abroad.

    Stop this "kill the SIM" nonsense now!

    1. pwl

      Re: leave my SIM alone!!!

      not requiring a physical sim means that you could easily have multiple operators for your phone without having to fiddle about swapping little bits of plastic. you could then select from a menu who you want to use at a given point in time, maybe have different networks for voice vs data, have one handset for work and personal numbers, etc. it also means you could order an international account *before* you arrive in a country & have it activate the moment you step off the plane (no need to find somethere that sells the right-sized piece of plastic to fit in your device).

      also, if you have a subscription with a network operator, you should then be able to use any device simply by authenticating yourself: dropped your phone in the ocean? no problem, grab the old handset in your cupboard, reactivate it & your old number is still available to you. or add your own number to your friend's hadset for a while so people can still contact you on the trip back from the beach.

      preporly executed this seems like a great idea (but then, you can say that about a lot of things...)

  9. Barrie Shepherd

    The advantage of being able to move the SIM from a broken phone (or one with a flat batter) to a working friends or second phone will be lost and I can't see the Networks being keen on allowing other Networks to be added to the hardware "SIM" in the phone.

    Damn silly idea designed to give what little control consumers still have back to the networks.

  10. Roland6 Silver badge

    Could be used for Removable SIMs

    I wonder what is going to stop this from being used on removable SIMs?

    Unless the eUICC also surfaces a write interface that is not available once a removable SIM has been placed in it's plastic holder.

    What I can see is that by liberating the operator from having to actually physically issue SIMs, we may see more (MVNO) operators enter the field - dedicated to specific embedded applications.

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