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Singapore government to regulate eSIM technology

The government is gathering feedback on key proposals such as forbidding telcos to lock embedded SIM-enabled devices to their networks

The Singapore government is planning to regulate embedded SIM (eSIM) technology that lets consumers switch telcos without the need to change their SIM cards.

The eSIM technology, which allows a SIM module to be permanently embedded in devices, supports over-the-air service provisioning of mobile services.

Besides providing greater convenience for consumers, eSIM will also make it easier for enterprises to manage devices in internet of things (IoT) and machine-to-machine applications, according to Aileen Chia, deputy chief executive of policy, regulation and competition development and director-general of telecoms and post at the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

According to a report by Beecham Research, eSIM enables efficient IoT device management by providing more reliable and secure connectivity as compared to removable SIM cards.

When used on 5G networks, which are expected to be commercialised in 2020, eSIM makes it possible to deploy massive and critical IoT applications with large-scale efficiency, opening up key opportunities for telcos in the next decade, Chia said.

Massive IoT refers to the ubiquitous connectivity of billions of devices, objects and machines that may be situated in the most remote locations. Critical IoT applications are those that have very high demand for reliability, availability and low latency.

With growing adoption of eSIM technology, the IMDA said policy and regulatory certainty will better help Singapore build an eSIM ecosystem. It recently launched a public consultation exercise to gather feedback from the public and the industry on the finer points of regulating eSIM technology.

The public consultation, open for feedback until 18 July 2018, covers key proposals such as extending the current “no SIM-lock” policy to eSIM-enabled devices. This policy forbids telcos, including mobile virtual network operators, from locking devices imported to and sold in Singapore.

Other proposals include a “light touch” licensing approach where device manufacturers, importers and sellers are only required to register eSIM devices with the IMDA and obtain a telecoms dealer’s (class) licence.

Besides the public consultation on eSIM technology, IMDA also announced at a recent tech conference that it has partnered with the National University of Singapore to develop local technical competencies and promote the development of quantum technologies, in particular quantum key distribution (QKD) in Singapore. Chia said this will help to secure communications as Singapore develops its digital economy.

QKD techniques enable users who are communicating with each other to produce a shared random secret key to encrypt and decrypt messages, as well as detect unauthorised third parties that are trying to access the key.

Read more about IoT in ASEAN

  • Avoiding supplier lock-in, driving open standards and tapping modular platforms are part of the approach that the Singapore government has taken in implementing the IoT in the city-state.
  • Singapore Power is moving to a more advanced digital platform that will enable it to develop IoT-based services.
  • Siemens’ digitalisation hub will be home to 60 specialists who will develop IoT applications in areas including advanced manufacturing and healthcare.
  • Malaysia is leading the way in using IoT to improve agriculture.

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