SIM card is an acronym for Subscriber Identity Module card. This card is a portable memory chip that stores information about you as a cell phone user. SIM cards were initially introduced in 1991, with the first SIM card being close to the size of a credit card. Obviously, since then our technology has significantly evolved and SIM cards have seen several revisions and rework. Going from a credit card-sized form factor to a form factor that is smaller than a quarter, several things changed just like every other technological enhancement. The most mind-blowing part about the tiny SIM card is that this small technology is able to store quite a bit of data, such as, but not limited to, a seventeen digit code that designates country code of origin, system carrier (AT&T, T-Mobile, Etc.), unique user ID, and more. This tiny card is normally the one used to activate phones nowadays. Usually, when you transfer phones and put this card into another phone, this card is able to transfer all the data regarding text messages (SMS), contacts, and other personal settings to the new phone. Which obviously makes the user’s life and transition to different phones much easier.
There are currently three versions of SIM cards that are used today in our society. The three versions are the standard SIM, the Micro-SIM, and Nano-SIM. The standard SIM card is commonly used in older phones prior to iPhone 4, which was introduced in 2010. The main difference between the standard and Micro-SIM cards is the size, and the easiest way to make a standard to a Micro SIM is by cutting the white border off. When iPhone 5 came out, they changed the form factor again to make the SIM card smaller which is how the public came to know of the Nano-SIM. Fortunately, after 2014, most smartphones, with exceptions to some, have started using Nano-SIM cards in their devices meaning you do not need to go to your carrier to find the correct SIM card that works with your device, but rather most of the new phones have the same SIM card. So theoretically, you should be able to swap the SIM card to a new phone and it should start working.
As mentioned above, SIM card technology has been evolving at a rapid rate and we can see in the trend above and below how SIM cards are becoming smaller and smaller. However, when we have reached the limits of making things smaller we tend to try to make it virtual. That brings us to the next step stage of the SIM card evolution, which are eSIMs & Soft SIMs. Since this new form of SIM cards is virtual everything about this would be in the form of software. An interesting aspect of the new eSIMs & Soft SIMS is that users would not have to go and change SIMs for service, but rather they would have the ability to digitally activate their devices. Although this is convenient, it also poses security risks that have been pointed out by several network providers. Since hacking is becoming more popular and common as technology evolves, carriers are pointing out they are hesitant in using this form of SIM technology because it is something that could be hacked since all of the subscriber’s credentials and data is on the open OS. Due to this vulnerability, the network providers do not want to pursue the eSIM & Soft SIM technology until the eSIMs & Soft SIMs have a better cyber defense protocol against hacking.
At this time, we definitely think the physical SIMs are going to slowly become obsolete, and eventually, we would migrate toward eSIMs and & Soft SIMs. To explain, the more a concept is built and worked on, the more issues arise, as well as mitigations and contingencies for those issues. Let’s take Windows for example, when Windows Vista and Windows 7 first came out, there were several issues and vulnerabilities, however, the more people used it and the more issues were exposed, the more solutions were found. In order to find a solution, you must understand and know the problem. With eSIMs & Soft SIMs, that same concept is applied if no one uses this new form of technology and it is only used in a controlled environment there is a low chance of being able to identify issues when a larger user-base uses the technology and without finding faults we cannot find mitigations. We believe eventually eSIMs & Soft SIMs are going to replace the physical SIMs due to the convenience of being able to digitally activate your device as well as saving physical and tangible resources.
We also believe the best method to release eSIMs & Soft Sims is by making sure devices are backward compatible, meaning they are fault-tolerant. For example, in the event, the eSIM or Soft SIM fails, it should be able to roll back to a conventional physical SIM at least initially, till the eSIM and/or Soft SIM has been standardized and most if not all the bugs have been sorted out. By doing this, network providers could slowly roll out eSIMs & Soft SIMs to different users and devices along with slowly troubleshooting issues and put mitigation strategies in place in the event things take an unexpected turn. The only way to patch issues that may arise is by being able to produce those issues. No one person will be able to think of every loophole and/or scenario that could cause a threat or issue, but rather a collection of people would be able to provide that type of insight.