AT&T Unveils Embedded Global SIM for Use in Many Products

The tiny Global SIM, which is the size of the tip of a pencil eraser, allows product makers to build support into products so they can be connected to the Internet of things.


AT&T has announced the availability of its latest enhanced global SIM device that adheres to the latest GSMA technical standards, allowing even more products to be connected to the Internet of things.

The new global SIM was unveiled by AT&T in an announcement on Sept. 16 and will bring new capabilities to makers of products ranging from motor vehicles to cargo ships, farm tractors and much more, according to AT&T. The enhanced SIMs meet recent GSMA standards for Mobile 2 Mobile (M2M) and connected device manufacturers, the company said.

Using the enhanced new SIM cards, global manufacturers will be able to build products that can be wirelessly connected, managed and supported, as part of AT&T's ongoing work in the field since 2012, the company said. "The SIM, combined with the AT&T Control Center, its service management platform, helps companies streamline device deployment around the world," AT&T said in a statement. The SIMs reduce the need for multiple device SKUs and simplify logistics support, as well.

"Our Global SIM enables the Internet of things for companies that need to connect devices, machines or cars with a single platform around the world," Chris Penrose, senior vice president for AT&T Emerging Devices, said in a statement. "We're the first carrier to announce a global SIM designed to meet GSMA specifications, and we are leading the industry into the future of connected devices."

The new enhanced SIMs include a global service management platform with advanced diagnostic tools, smart process automation, machine monitoring and alert/response capabilities, as well as global wireless M2M connectivity with access to hundreds of carriers worldwide, according to AT&T.

Cameron Coursey, vice president of product development for AT&T, told eWEEK that the company's first SIM back in 2012 was released before the latest GSMA standards were in place. The updated specifications inspired the creation of the enhanced SIM, he said.

"This one extends the capabilities and provides greater interoperability between carriers," said Coursey.

The SIMs are chips that are soldered onto system boards and are used in automotive and other M2M uses, he explained. They are very different from the SIMs that are found in cell phones.

These SIMs are for automakers and others where standard SIMs used in phones would not be robust enough for M2M, he said.

For manufacturers of a wide range of products, the enhanced SIMs are critical because they can be built into products and then sold around the world in any market where the SIMs are supported, said Coursey. "General Motors and others can buy one type of SIM and put it in, and it will work anywhere," he said. "That's a big advantage to the automakers because they don't want to make their inventory specific to different countries when it comes to SIM cards."

The SIMs will also be likely used in farm tractors and construction equipment, cargo ships, truck fleets and even consumer devices such as wearables and e-readers that can be sold around the world, he said.

Earlier this month, AT&T announced that it's now offering customers who drive eligible Audi vehicles the ability to connect their cars to their AT&T Mobile Share Value data plans for $10 a month, just like they were adding a tablet computer to their accounts.