Major European Automotive Manufacturers have been working hard to resolve a number of use and deployment issues regarding in-vehicle connectivity, such as:

  • Developing a keen understanding of the relevant uses cases and target customers that will / do benefit from the functionality provided through the evolving capabilities of automotive telematics boards. These include those for the end-user e.g. tracking a vehicle when it leaves a pre-defined geographical location unexpectedly, as well as those for lease and fleet operators who might perform remote diagnostics on a vehicle and be able to propose additional service benefits to a vehicle user.
  • Gaining an enhanced understanding of how Big Data capture by the vehicle through the automotive telematics board could be leveraged and commercialised by supporting Smart Cities initiatives such as those already in development in Rennes, Nice and Wallonie [Belgium]. For example potentially identifying locations where there is significant use of ABS technology and modifying the route accordingly.
  • Looking at the medium-long term product strategy for in-vehicle connectivity by performing audits of existing roadmap technology developments; and establishing recommendations on how the technical architecture should be enhanced to address the issues raised by the audit.
  • Ensuring the part of automotive telematics boards that provides safety focussed functionality is particularly robust, for example, to manage the Emergency A-calls and B-calls resiliently.

In practice, resolution of these problems means addressing both the technical challenges relating to automotive telematics boards and also the associated operational challenges. A key technical area of focus has been in determining what SIM solution should be adopted to deliver the best technical, operational and commercial solution.

Currently available SIMs (either hardware based or SIM cards) have hard-coded (or possibly firmware based) Operator credentials. This does not preclude roaming and use of other Operator networks, but to do so implies the SIM Operator has roaming agreements in place and these are most likely to incur higher costs to the end user. Other operational challenges include changing Operators (e.g. moving a connected car fleet to a new Operator contract). Therefore, something akin to a firmware upgrade (best case) or SIM / hardware swap is required to change Operator credentials.

One attractive technological solution to address these challenges is the embedded SIM. An embedded SIM standard would allow a common method to remotely provision / de-provision Operator credentials. It also would permit multiple Operator credentials per ‘SIM’ which could eliminate some roaming charges at the cost of having multiple Operator agreements.

In seeking a suitable SIM solution, key stakeholders have long sought to develop and adopt an established M2M embedded SIM standard. Key reasons underlying why this is so important to the industry have included:

  • Ensuring interoperability across MNOs and SIM vendors
  • Driving the overall solution cost down
  • Ensuring forward and backward SIM compatibility
  • Improving product reliability through standardised testing/certification.

As a result, standardised embedded SIMs should have the ability to deliver the following benefits:

  • Decoupling the SIM hardware from the services provisioning
  • Managing provisioning of a SIM-profile for the local market
  • Securing a long-term working product.

Against this background, announcements made at the Mobile World Congress 2016 may well represent a significant step towards answering some of these technical challenges. Specifically, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan – Renault, Scania and Volvo cars all announced their support for the (Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association) GSMA’s Embedded SIM specification for connected cars. In addition, 22 live operator solutions are now commercially available, including AT&T, Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange and others.

What this means is that the actual service any European Automotive Manufacturer might consider purchasing could well be running the core GSMA specifications that forms the evolving de facto standard i.e.:

  • Embedded SIM Remote provisioning Architecture V3.0
  • Embedded SIM Remote provisioning for embedded UICC Technical specification.

The GSMA test specification can then be referred to, to check for compliance of the actual solution; which in turn can provide the comfort of knowing the service has access to the whole market of 22 commercially available operator solutions.

The Mobile World Congress 2016 also saw the GSMA announce security guidelines to support the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) which is likely to further encourage end-user confidence in acceptance of connected cars.

In Wavestone’s opinion the GSMA is increasingly offering an M2M Ecosystem and stable specification (v3) to enable the full Interoperability that European Automotive Manufacturers will be able to rely on.