News: IoT and SIM – does it go together?

If you have ever come across the IMS-WebRTC integration, you know how much pain is caused, just by the fact that a web-browser is not equipped with a SIM card. With HTML5 every browser can become a terminal. But with IoT practically any device can be plugged in a big global network. So how to make sure that each such a device has all the information it needs in order to securely connect and get its services?

eUICC

One possibility is a SIM card. Although it might be an overkill for simple applications, for many it can be interesting as a quite proven and also reasonable secure option. Of course, we talk about the Embedded UICC (eUICC) for machine-to-machine devices. Already in the beginning of 2014 T-Mobile USA announced an e-SIM for M2M communications. A few days ago we got a new GSMA version of Remote Provisioning Architecture for Embedded UICC.

Anyway in my view we are just a half way through. The eUICC is still a physical device. So the it can’t be used for virtual m2m agents or the already mentioned WebRTC. And imagine that for some reason we have to replace all eUICC modules in our whole m2m solution… That’s why I’m still waiting for a so-called Soft SIM, which GSMA defines as:

A ‘Soft SIM’ would be a collection of software applications and data that perform all of the functionality of a SIM card but does not reside in any kind of secure data storage. Instead, it would be stored in the memory and processor of the communications device itself (i.e. there would be no SIM hardware layer).

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IoT doesn’t bother to knock

Nearly every time I read some article about the Internet of Things I feel that common folks have to think we are completely nuts 🙂 Do we really believe that we’ll control temperature in room via sensors in our cloths? Or that my fridge will communicate with my wash-machine and my microwave oven, monitoring my GPS and getting ready when they’ll notice I’m coming home? It reminds me the programs for 8-bit computers which were making lists of what you needed to buy in supermarket …

And still the IoT is reality. The IoT, or M2M if you want, is not about bringing the Internet to the devices but on contrary making smarted devices which need the Internet in order to behave even smarter (enough of ‘smart’, I promise).  A few years ago if we wanted to connect some device (e.g. for SCADA, telemetry, etc.) into our information system we would need to have a traditional radio network. Later it was possible to add a GSM module. Now the price of devices is low and with LTE or in future with 5G network in place the data is not a problem. Just for a fun I can buy a cheap Raspberry Pi and interconnect with LTE module. And indeed, the M2M traffic is now the 2nd biggest source of revenue after the data for many mobile operators. The next year it can be the number one.

Devices online per 100 inhabitants, OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 - © OECD 2015

Devices online per 100 inhabitants, OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 – © OECD 2015

 

Of course, LTE is not the only one. For LTE-A an energy use and cost still remain concerns. More and more we can hear about alternative approaches such as Low Power Wide-area (LPWA) networking or Li-Fi.

IoT is not about standards (now)

The IoT is here already. It doesn’t wait for OMA (OMA_LWM2M), GSMA standards (GSMA IoT web) or Atis (5G Reimagined: A North American Perspective). This can be a surprise for some T1 operators. IoT is what we call ‘enterprise’. It’s like with the web applications. We don’t need to integrate them. They are (firstly) created ad-hoc to fix a problem. If you can’t do it fast, someone else can. Remember the drones? After the military usage one of the very first industries which started to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) was surprisingly agriculture. Farmers didn’t care about how cool it was neither what were the standards. They saw that it could help them with their existing problems. Btw. the agriculture is one of the IoT early adopters too.

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Is the Presence Social?

Being a trainer is a nice job. But one shouldn’t use an instant messenger (Skype, Lync, Google Hangout, Jabber, etc.). I always forget to switch it off or change my presence to ‘off-work’ (sometimes does’t help it either). For example it is 9 pm, I’m tired after two weeks of training at a hotel room and watching some movie on my laptop. Then suddenly a window with my IM jumps out and one of my friends (sitting in a different timezone) is asking for some technical advice. He/She sees I’m online and active so it’s not twice polite to ignore the request.  Sure, no need to be a trainer, I guess you know it as well.

Presence indication is one of the key attributes of Instant Messaging or Real Time Communication in general. RCS 5.2 is defining the social presence with following attributes:

  • Availability, indicates the user‟s (un)willingness to communicate,
  • Portrait icon, depicting the user (e.g. a photo or image provided by the contact himself),
  • Free text, including textual note and possibility to add emoticons (automatic translation
    of some specific characters into smileys),
  • Favourite link, to publish hypertext link of personal and/or favourite site,
  • Timestamp, date of the last update of the profile, generated automatically,
  • Geolocation, depicts the user location.

We shouldn’t limit ourselves only to them. Stop for a while to think about Real Time Communication as about something dedicated to human beings only. For the Machine to Machine communication (M2M/M2X/IoT) it is the presence important maybe even more.

For example a distributor of gas has smart monitoring devices which are all connected to a monitoring station. Moreover some of the devices are interconnected among themselves. Their “social” presence can be related to their readiness, actual throughput, power supply, strength of radio signal, reliability and condition. (However it is true that SIP/IMS/RCS were designed primarily for humans and there are also other ways how to solve presence for M2M.)

UEs and Application Servers rely on the presence information very much. It can be important for both signaling and data. Based on the presence we can choose which device to use, which access method is the best, what timeouts are optimal, which codecs are applicable etc.

Anyway before we’ll dive in the RCS concept of the social presence we should recap the standard mechanisms for SIP defined in the RFC 3903RFC 2778 and  RFC 3856 and the Presence Service for IMS defined in 3GPP 24.141.

Basic Presence

Basic Presence

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