|Issue:||Europe I 2014|
|Topic:||The key to success: choosing the right LTE UICC features|
Yves Portalier is Senior Vice President, Telecoms Business Unit, Morpho. Yves is responsible for the global telecoms business at Morpho (formerly Sagem Orga), a SAFRAN group company. He focuses on strategy, business development and overall operating results. Prior to this role, Yves was co-founder and Executive VP in charge of Strategic Marketing at MobiWire, from 2009 to 2011, defining company strategy and building partnerships. Between 1997 and 2006, he led various teams and projects in marketing, communication, products and business areas at Sagem Mobile. Yves holds an engineering degree from Polytech Clermont-Ferrand.
Yves Portalier is also Board Director of SIMalliance. SIMalliance is the global, non-profit industry association which simplifies secure element (SE) implementation to drive the creation, deployment and management of secure mobile services. SIMalliance aims to promote an open SE ecosystem to facilitate delivery of secure mobile applications globally. SIMalliance members represent approximately 90% of the global SIM card market and work with all global MNOs. As such, the SIMalliance’s membership is responsible for delivering the most widely distributed secure application delivery platform in the world (UICC/SIM/USIM). SIMalliance members are Eastcompeace, Fundamenture, Gemalto, Giesecke & Devrient, Incard, Kona I, Morpho, Oberthur Technologies, VALID, Watchdata and Wuhan Tianyu. SIMalliance Strategic Partners are Comprion, Linxens and Movenda.
The LTE UICC is the new SIM card that is worthy of serving 4G for any compatible device. It is more powerful than ever before, with greater authentication security and more connectivity facilities, such as WiFi handover and NFC. It is capable of remote updates and management, thus enhancing the MNOs’ ability to control identity management and configuration of on-board applications.
For LTE, the SIM, or in today’s terms the UICC (Universal Integrated Circuit Card), has transformed into an IP-connected, multi-application platform, offering a range of features to help MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) maximise the commercial opportunities of the new standard and safeguard their competitive standing in the industry. Global adoption of LTE has been rapid. So rapid, in fact, that since December 2010, the number of commercially available 4G networks has rocketed from just 20 to more than 200 today. Consumer adoption is expected to follow suit; by 2016 GSMA Intelligence predicts that some 500m LTE connections will be live globally. However, despite the pace of change, there is good reason for mobile network operators to pause for a moment and reflect on how the converged mobile and IP world of 4G will impact their position in, and influence over, the market for secure mobile services. LTE has ushered in a new age of mobile convergence which offers huge opportunities for MNOs, but also considerable challenges.
At the heart of this converged world sits the LTE UICC, a fourth generation SIM card. Today’s LTE-optimised UICC enables MNOs to do far more than securely connect subscribers to their networks. More so than any of its predecessors, the LTE UICC offers vast potential for the development of new use-case secure mobile applications and services, such as subscription based HD video streaming, NFC mobile payments and a wide range of personal identification and authentication services. A key challenge for MNOs, however, is that the promise of LTE is now shared with a host of Over-The-Top (OTT) players, many of which are seeking to use 4G as a springboard into the mobile channel for their legacy IP based services. This is intensifying service competition for MNOs as OTT players go head to head with them by introducing low-to-no-cost services like Voice over IP.
For years, MNOs have used the UICC (and the SIM before it) to guard the gateway to the mobile world, using its secure platform to identify and authenticate subscribers and control the introduction of new services. Now that MNOs must share their network with IP-centric OTT players, they must work harder than ever to retain the level of control they have enjoyed to date. To ensure their continued commercial success in this new environment, it is therefore vital that MNOs understand how to optimise and configure their LTE UICC’s new features. This task will play a huge part in determining the extent of MNOs’ control over the introduction and delivery of secure LTE mobile services to subscribers, both now and in the future.
Smart feature configuration will ensure that MNOs can realise the full potential of the LTE UICC as a vehicle to generate new revenues, strengthen their competitive standing and safeguard the quality and security of their subscribers’ LTE experience. Much of this relies on the MNO’s ability to position the LTE UICC as the ‘network endpoint’ and, as a result, ensure it remains the sole guardian of the subscribers’ credentials needed to authorise the actions of secure LTE services. By achieving this positioning, MNOs are able to support only services that are high quality and commercially favourable, thus ensuring that they deliver both a premium and profitable 4G service experience. What’s more, they also have an opportunity to extend this role outside conventional mobile boundaries by offering authentication and identity services that can help to enhance the security of the wider online world. SIMalliance contends that as the market for secure 4G services evolves, this positioning will become of critical strategic importance for MNOs globally.
Careful selection and configuration of the LTE UICC can also have a major positive impact on the smooth operation of a 4G network. MNOs have, for example, the potential to store LTE location information on the LTE UICC, allowing for future enhancements of roaming applications and services. When appropriately configured, the LTE UICC also enables users to securely ‘roam’ onto any WiFi connection or Femtocell/Smallcell zone, greatly reducing the volumes of data being passed via the mobile network and also enabling many operators to continue to utilise their existing network infrastructure, reducing costs and increasing service availability and average revenue per user as a result.
Inter-network user authentication can also be enhanced, providing a basis upon which MNOs can develop advanced UICC-based roaming applications that significantly improve user experience. Inevitably, an increase in the number of applications present on an LTE UICC, together with its extended functionality, will generate more requirements for remote updates to be administered. Fortunately, since 4G is an all-IP environment, Over-The-Air UICC updates can now be executed via HTTP, the architecture used to build the web. Taking advantage of this new capability will make a huge difference to the time and cost required to administer each UICC update, speeding up the process of applying content and application upgrades and also raising overall success rates of each.
Technical details of these and other powerful new features are explored in the SIMalliance LTE UICC Profile, a recommendations document written for both the technical and marketing teams within MNOs, with a view to providing guidance on optimal UICC support for LTE network and IMS services deployment. MNOs have already spent billions on 4G licenses globally. If this revenue is to be appropriately recouped, MNOs everywhere must think strategically about safeguarding their competitive position in the market and protecting their commercial interests. This means maximising control over the market for secure LTE services and focusing on delivering a premium quality user experience. With this in mind the LTE UICC, quite literally, holds the key to success.
The SIMalliance LTE UICC Profile is available for download without charge from: http://www.simalliance.org/en/resources/recommendations/