Recapping the SIMposium, Berlin, 28-29 June

Posted: July 8th, 2011 | Author: Jussi Hacklin | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last week, I travelled to Berlin for SIMposium 2011, organised by SIMalliance in partnership with Informa Telecoms & Media. The conference was a great platform for hearing about new contactless technologies, discussing emerging business models and addressing market challenges and the opportunities of machine-to-machine (M2M) for specific enterprise verticals.

Over the course of the two days, it became clear that Near Field Communications (NFC), M2M and handling identity/security were the primary topics of conversation. For starters, NFC was displayed in many context-enabling solutions; these ranged from e-wallet services all the way to public transportation payment systems. Now that NFC pilots are showing promise on the commercial side, it seems that solution providers’ imaginations are flying high! It will certainly be interesting to see what else is rolled out in the coming months. However, the key to future NFC uptake and to these projects being successful will be to make the solution benefits clear to end-users without making things overly technical.

M2M was also on every operator’s lips at SIMposium. There was a clear consensus that M2M will happen in a major way. Most operators believe that the challenges of M2M are different from those on the consumer side, and to address these, there needs to be a dedicated organization, network infrastructure and offering. Furthermore, M2M customers are looking for global connectivity, which means partnering (and possibly unified roaming pricing) for operators.

The first industry to make M2M really happen might be automotive and transportation, with the legislation in Europe (eCall) and Brasil (Resolution 245) being main drivers for the deployment. M2M is clearly made for verticals that represent different niches, which naturally makes things more complex for operators. Standardisation will help somewhat, but as one operator said at the event, the market is not waiting for standardisation.

Soft SIMs versus SIM cards was another very hot topic during the two-day event. The general view at the conference seemed to be that soft SIMs will gain popularity, but the security provided by regular SIM cards is currently far better. Managing SIMs’ identities securely via over-the-air (OTA) is increasingly important, especially as embedded SIMs become more attractive, because OTA is the only way to handle them. It became clear at SIMposium that SIM-based identity is a key concern for operators, and that there always will be a compromise between security and usability, no matter what the solution is. (One interesting application of note was SIM-based authentication to log on to Wi-Fi networks; in essence, the Wi-Fi customer experience needs to be as seamless as the 3G customer experience.)

Although NFC, M2M and identity management/security were top of mind, it seemed that many SIMposium attendees debated removable versus embedded SIMs—but there are clear benefits for both. For removable SIMs, the ease of switching from one device to another is undeniable; however, embedded SIMs can be placed on devices more freely without relying on ports to access them.

The SIM partner ecosystem is visibly growing, as evident with representatives from card manufacturers, device management vendors and operators, among others, in attendance at last week’s event. Comptel is very excited about this area—feel free to share your thoughts or questions about the market or the conference with us in the comments section.