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Embedded SIM Design Means No More Swapping Cards

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the but-watch-for-the-new-skimmers dept.

Communications 192

judgecorp writes "A new remotely-programmable embedded SIM design from the GSMA operators' group means that devices can be operated on the Internet of things and won't have to be opened up to have their SIM card changed if they move to a different operator. The design could speed up embedded applications."

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why? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739165)

why is this needed?

Re:why? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739193)

Because nano-sim is too big for Apple users because it's still bigger than their penises.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739429)

A whole half a gram of weight in my phone!? OMG! it'll break my already floppy, limp wrist!

Re:why? (1)

neokushan (932374) | about 10 months ago | (#45739611)

I know he was trolling, but he never said it was too heavy...

Re:why? (4, Interesting)

VernonNemitz (581327) | about 10 months ago | (#45739795)

I'd say it is not needed. Because anything described as "remotely programmable" means "remotely abuse-able". Botnet operators will love it.

Re:why? (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 10 months ago | (#45740001)

"I'd say it is not needed. Because anything described as "remotely programmable" means "remotely abuse-able". Botnet operators will love it."

My thoughts exactly.

If I buy a phone, I want it to be MY phone. I don't want or need "remotely programmable" bullshit. I am so tired of this kind of garbage I can hardly put it into words.

Re:why? (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 10 months ago | (#45740495)

Did you even RTFA? This is for the 'internet of things' - Imagine you want to move the anti-theft system in your motorcycle from carrier A to B. Or a city wants to move their digital parking meters to a cheaper carrier. Instead of needing to move a physical SIM you could do is online.

Or an online watch, where there are advantages to having it sealed up, with no SIM slot. Heck even with a 'phone' it's useful. Imagine you arrive in Hong Kong at midnight and you want to move your phone to Vodaphone. You don't have to seek out some store and buy a SIM - Just happens presto.

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 10 months ago | (#45740623)

Did you even RTFA? This is for the 'internet of things' - Imagine you want to move the anti-theft system in your motorcycle from carrier A to B. Or a city wants to move their digital parking meters to a cheaper carrier. Instead of needing to move a physical SIM you could do is online. Or an online watch, where there are advantages to having it sealed up, with no SIM slot. Heck even with a 'phone' it's useful. Imagine you arrive in Hong Kong at midnight and you want to move your phone to Vodaphone. You don't have to seek out some store and buy a SIM - Just happens presto.

Imagine all of those scenarios except the person/entity making the changes isn't the owner.

Re:why? (1)

neokushan (932374) | about 10 months ago | (#45740171)

What, like all modern smartphones?

Re:why? (4, Interesting)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#45739275)

waterproof phones? My Motorola Defy is good and all, but those rubber plugs and the seal around the battery cover can only take 1M of water pressure.

Re:why? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#45739425)

the rubber isn't there to protect the sim card... unless they permanently embed the battery, you're still in the same boat.

Re:why? (2)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about 10 months ago | (#45739451)

I think the issue occurs when one is out of the boat here.. In the boat is fine.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739525)

I think the issue occurs when one is out of the boat here.. In the boat is fine.

Not if the boat is under water, do try to keep up.

Re:why? (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 10 months ago | (#45739551)

But what if he's in one of those boats that go under water? You know, what do you call them? Sunk. That's it.

Re:why? (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 10 months ago | (#45739895)

I think you'd have bigger problems unless your emergency plan is to use your mobile to call for help.

Re:why? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 10 months ago | (#45739523)

Yeah but if you're still in the same boat then you're on water and still need a waterproof phone, so you're back to square one.

Re:why? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#45739615)

The rubber plugs are for the USB and headphone sockets.
When was the last time you saw an iPhone with a MicroSD card slot or replaceable battery?
If there was no MicroSD card, SIM card and no replaceable battery, there would be no need for the removable back cover, that tends to fall off every now and then after two years of use.

Head phones can be replaced with bluetooth, charging can be done wirelessly, plugs can be made water proof.

The mic, speaker and vol/power buttons are already waterproof.

Re:why? (1)

puto (533470) | about 10 months ago | (#45739897)

My Defy has gone down 20 feet with no problem.

Re:why? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 10 months ago | (#45739997)

That much water would block the signal anyway, what's the point of bringing a phone underwater?

Re:why? (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | about 10 months ago | (#45739345)

Well one reason I would like this is that the nano SIMs in a lot of current phones are simply too tiny to easily change while on a plane. I travel for work to several different countries and have a local SIM for each. Trying to manipulate and swap out those tiny SIMs while cramped up into an aeroplane seat sucks.

I could wait until I arrive I suppose, but it's something useful to do while you have dead time on the plane, plus there usually isn't a good place to do it when you arrive and are herded into the immigration/customs area of the airport. It's useful to have the local SIM in and working soon as you hit the ground so you can catch up on any important emails, check for schedule/gate changes for your next connecting flight etc.

Re:why? (5, Insightful)

maliqua (1316471) | about 10 months ago | (#45739411)

so you think it will be easier and more painless to have to call your provider each time you want to switch to activate it?

i'll take fidgeting with a small sim card over dealing with a call center

Re:why? (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 10 months ago | (#45739481)

Not only that, but imagine what happens when they refuse to assist you in switching?

When you have a physical sim you can swap it yourself. You have no such choice if you don't have control over the sim.

This is actually a very large loss to phone users unless you can reprogram it yourself.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45740223)

They could allow you to update it without compromising security. If each local network supplied you with a signed SIM-update file you could reapply them as often as you liked. You could even write an app to automatically update your SIM based on your location.

But businesses hate freedom. I bet you a jam sandwich this doesn't happen.

Re:why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739531)

I think I hear "vendor lock in" calling .

Re:why? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#45739797)

You can't fiddle with your cell phone on a plane anyway. You could cause it to crash.

Re:why? (4, Funny)

CreatureComfort (741652) | about 10 months ago | (#45739853)

I use Windows Phone, it crashes anywhere *you insensitive clod*.

Re:why? (4, Insightful)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 10 months ago | (#45739461)

Not only why? But I don't want it. This seems like a huge step backwards for consumers. One of the great things
about GSM vs CDMA is the ability to move a phone from carrier to carrier or a number from phone to phone. I don't
want an embedded sim that only the carrier can change and I can't swap to a different handset or carrier. Some
things I routinely do are swap a sim when in a foreign country or put my sim into an old cheap phone when I take
it to the beach or if my phone is acting up, dies, or needs to be charged.

Re:why? (2)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | about 10 months ago | (#45739569)

Not only why? But I don't want it. This seems like a huge step backwards for consumers. One of the great things
about GSM vs CDMA is the ability to move a phone from carrier to carrier or a number from phone to phone. I don't
want an embedded sim that only the carrier can change and I can't swap to a different handset or carrier. Some
things I routinely do are swap a sim when in a foreign country or put my sim into an old cheap phone when I take
it to the beach or if my phone is acting up, dies, or needs to be charged.

Good thing it isn't intended for consumers, then. Look, I know this is Slashdot and it isn't cool to RTFA, but, really, from TFA:

Despite the convenience of over-the-air management, the GSMA says the embedded design is not meant to replace conventional SIM cards, even though this exact idea was floated when ETSI was deciding on the future of the nano-SIM in 2012.

Re:why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739627)

Just because it's not meant to doesn't mean it'll never happen.

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 10 months ago | (#45739759)

And FISA wasn't "intended" to allow the NSA to spy on Americans. But you can see how that worked out!

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739933)

This is slashdot, we don't need people coming in here being all logical and informative! More FUD, less FACT!

Re:why? (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 10 months ago | (#45740027)

" I don't want an embedded sim that only the carrier can change ..."

They wish.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45740603)

I have a back up cell phone. It used to be my primary phone. It is still functional, just not as feature filled. On particularly crazy days, when my primary phone is drained, I can swap the SIM to the backup and keep working. My primary phone can charge while off (it charges faster). Tough to call customer service when the phone is already dead.

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | about 10 months ago | (#45739513)

So that you have to replace your entire phone if you have a bad sim.

I'm not sure how that's a good thing, but I'm guessing the carriers didn't think about that.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739577)

Of course the providers thought about that.
Google for planned obsolecense.

This move is horrible for consumers and we should not buy phones using this technology.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45740031)

most often a sim is probably "bad" because of a poor connection in the sim socket. this would eliminate that.

Re:why? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739733)

RTFA. They're not talking about phones; they're talking about assorted Internet-of-Things devices--how your toaster and your microwave talk to your Roomba.

Do you want your smart electric meter to stop talking to your electric company because they're switching network standards and don't have time to send a technician to change SIM chips in every meter in the city? With this, your meter can be reprogrammed to connect to an updated network without a service call to your house.

Of course, if someone hacks the network and reprograms your meter, that's bad. But don't we have the same risk now? And if this allows your electric company to update your meter to a more secure protocol on the fly, that's a good thing, isn't it?

Re:why? (0)

Holi (250190) | about 10 months ago | (#45739981)

Mod this AC up

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739757)

Because SIM trays take up substantial amounts of space in modern phones, and we've reached the limit of what can be done by shrinking the SIM card.

That, and because software network switching is nicer than having to go to a shop, buy a SIM, switch them over, etc.

Machine to Machine (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45740111)

The main idea is to lower deployment costs for M2M applications.

I operate a GPS tracking business and somthing like this would save a lot of bux.

As it is right now I need to send a guy to the location where the tracker is and have them swap out the SIM.

Vendor interests, not user interests. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45740459)

why is this needed?

Vendors hate having expandability and cross-compatibility in their products; they want you to have to buy a new one.

Google didn't put a micro-SD card slot in the Nexus-7 because you'd be able to upgrade storage cheaply and easily. They want you to buy another one when your apps get too big for the builtin. There's a bazillion people running CyanogenMod on old, cheap Nook Colors who are very happy they had a card slot... users like media slots, vendors don't.

What could possibly go wrong. (3, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 10 months ago | (#45739167)

Compared to a hard wired chip, we got something controlled by software. And a lot of Devices that likes to be jail braked.

Re:What could possibly go wrong. (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 10 months ago | (#45739475)

The point is that in many places it is not legal to put in a phone "in jail" in the first place. So if they want to get rid of physical SIM card they need a non-physical way of changing the phone to a different provider on the fly.

Re:What could possibly go wrong. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45740479)

The point is that in many places it is not legal to put in a phone "in jail" in the first place. So if they want to get rid of physical SIM card they need a non-physical way of changing the phone to a different provider on the fly.

But that's not the point... that's the result. The question is: Why do they want to get rid of a non-programmable security chip in the first place? This means that every device shipped could be reflashed with a custom keyset anywhere along the distribution path, or even after final sale. What with China slipping wifi-enabled attack bots into regular home appliances (like toasters and irons) delivered to Russia, it wouldn't be too difficult to totally reconfigure someone's internet of things to a similar end. This reminds me of the wireless "security" cameras that used to broadcast the video signal in the clear for anyone to view.

Re:What could possibly go wrong. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45740373)

This... right on the heels of Embedded cameras that can spy without lighting up [slashdot.org] due to the same switch from "what you have" to "what you know (which can be reprogrammed)."

Would not be a problem at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739177)

If all firmware was open source I would have designed this when I needed it six years ago.

Re:Would not be a problem at all (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | about 10 months ago | (#45739249)

Yeah, I don't know what all the functions of the SIM is, but I don't understand why it wouldn't need to just be the phone + something:

User inputs their cell number, a passphrase to authenticate with that identity on the network, and selects the network.
Network authorises that instance of the cell number on the network.

Probable downside is the same as a lot of user+pass systems instead of controlled hardware key: multiple logins, probably from attackers.

Re:Would not be a problem at all (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739359)

a SIM contains a cryptographic signature and some other things.

It's basically a watered down TPM that has a unique ID, a few kilobytes of storage, and a cryptographic key set.
A physical device like that makes it difficult to replicate the functionality of the SIM card, making it harder to make one device use the credentials and system identity of another device. (EG, it makes it harder for an attacker to steal your network identity and make lots of 1-900 number calls, which will then show up on YOUR bill, amongst other things-- like framing you in a murder by making all his calls with your number, etc.)

Making this an easily reprogrammed internal chip makes that physical level of security go away.

That's a bad thing.

Sometimes being inconvenienced is really in your best interest.

Re:Would not be a problem at all (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#45739375)

... then you need to manage the passphrase. Then all someone needs to do is find your password and they can answer your phone calls, receive your text messages - like two-factor text codes

A sim card is more secure than passphrase, since no one gets told the private key stored inside it and its never transmitted anywhere, except when its initially programmed by the telco.

Sounds good in theory... (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | about 10 months ago | (#45739189)

Sounds good in theory, just so long as the "remote provisioning" can be handled by the user of the device, and the user doesn't have to ask permission from anyone.

Re:Sounds good in theory... (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 10 months ago | (#45739277)

Considering that they explicitly say: " ... remotely assigned to a network. This information can be subsequently modified over-the-air, as many times as necessary.", odds are that this will be a repeat of the procedures followed on CDMA networks where it is entirely the Carrier to take care of a change, and who can choose not to should they not sell/support the device you wish to use.

Re:Sounds good in theory... (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | about 10 months ago | (#45739287)

I'd like it as if it was just:

Settings > Networks:
Set phone network to use.
Set phone number to use (identity on the network).
Set passphrase to use (probably a key given by the network, like PUK code).
Connect to network.

Ooooo OAuth2 like would be interdasting.

Re:Sounds good in theory... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 10 months ago | (#45739403)

It's a bit more complicated than that since all the carriers in the US use wildly different frequency bands. I've got a Lenovo S750 (waterproof and all that) thatI love, but can't get over 2G speeds due to all the spectrum issues in the US. Also, it has TWO sim cards so I can be on multiple networks at once. Lucky for me I'm usually in range of wifi so its not really a problem. Streaming pandora while I drive down the road is about the only thing I miss, and I didnt do that much anyway.

Re:Sounds good in theory... (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | about 10 months ago | (#45740301)

And I thought phones these days were packed with multi-frequency band capabilities to allow that crap.

Or at least to make it cheaper for device manufacturer by selling one phone capable for all networks. But hey, I don't know the US mobile landscape.

Re:Sounds good in theory... (1)

fisted (2295862) | about 10 months ago | (#45740073)

OAuth2 like would be interdasting.

Would it? Well, OAuth's lead designer politely disagrees [hueniverse.com]

Re:Sounds good in theory... (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45739309)

Sounds good in theory, just so long as the "remote provisioning" can be handled by the user of the device, and the user doesn't have to ask permission from anyone.

Don't be silly, it is precisely that capability which the carriers want to eliminate.
There is nothing wrong with SIMs. You know when you change out your sim card that your ties with the prior carrier are interrupted. Who knows what information this scheme will provide to your prior carrier, or government monitors.

This seems more likely to provide protection for Government wire tapping than any benefit to the user.

Re:Sounds good in theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739433)

Sounds good in theory, just so long as the "remote provisioning" can be handled by the user of the device, and the user doesn't have to ask permission from anyone.

Hahahaha! That's pretty funny! (Are you here all week? Should I try the veal?)

You think telcos care about that?

Huh... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739221)

If you don't take it out. And don't change it.

Why even have it at all?

You made it a useless part. Remove the useless part.

Re:Huh... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#45739749)

Good point. But I take my SIM out and change it quite often. A few times a year when I travel. And every couple of years when I upgrade my phone.

Happy trails (1)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | about 10 months ago | (#45739223)

Neat, an audit trail that follows you, forever.

Re:Happy trails (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45739337)

Neat, an audit trail that follows you, forever.

A wiretap that follows you around as well.

Re:Happy trails (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#45739427)

There already is one.
The phone already has a unique ID as well (that you aren't supposed to be able to change, and in some countries is illegal to do so because its used to black list stolen phones), called the IMEI number. The SIM card has an IMSI number.

It also means no user SIM swapping (1)

Guy Smiley (9219) | about 10 months ago | (#45739273)

This also means that users can no longer swap the SIM card to move a device between carriers (e.g. putting in a local SIM when traveling). I doubt that the carriers are going to make this easily changed by users, since it means less lock-in.

Re:It also means no user SIM swapping (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 10 months ago | (#45739347)

It also means that you have to go through your carrier to change your device. Regardless of where or how you obtain your device you will always have to go down to your local shop and have them push the config.

Internet of Things (4, Insightful)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 10 months ago | (#45739289)

This buzzword annoys me even more than Cloud. Cloud has more or less become common vernacular for describing Internet-connected servers which you may or may not own, but the term Internet of Things seems to imply that a) there were no "things" on the Internet before now and b) the "old Internet" simply isn't hip enough to run more devices, and you should be clambering all over a vendor to be a part of it. Ugh.

Re:Internet of Things (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 10 months ago | (#45739509)

cloud was inevitable; every network diagram I've ever seen always represented the internet as a "cloud".

I've always thought it was perfectly approrpriate too. Its a relatively opaque morphous network outside of your direct control, there's "stuff" in it, you can connect to but you don't really know what or where it is.

And cloud storage and cloud compute etc is literally moving those servers on those diagrams INTO the cloud. :)

So cloud doesn't bug me as a term at all. As a trend it offends me greatly, since in many cases it is STUPID to move your stuff into the cloud, and companies are doing it because its trendy and hip and has a low upfront cost. But that's a separate issue.

Internet of Things? Meh... I think you are reading too much into it. The internet is traditionally clients and servers that were recognizable as computers. The internet of things is just referencing the recent mass push to put a lot of things on the internet that aren't really recognizable as computers... from your cofeemaker to your thermostat.

I've never really gotten a sense that it was "new" or "hip" or that it even required a "vendor".

Re:Internet of Things (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 10 months ago | (#45740251)

There were no "things" on the internet until recently, there were only computers.

Security Nightmare (1)

The Raven (30575) | about 10 months ago | (#45739307)

I can see the utility, but this seems like a security issue. Isn't one of the purposes of the SIM to provide a physical identity chip? Why does it need to be programmable? Shouldn't you just say 'this SIM now has access to this network'?

I probably just don't understand the function of a SIM card well enough to get the significance of this. Can someone clarify? I am not 5, FYI, and I can understand multi-syllabic words.

Re:Security Nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739629)

As I posted in response earlier in the page:

A SIM card is basically a watered down TPM. It contains about 64kb of storage space, a unique, non-writable ID, and a cryptographic key store.

It is used to contain some useful information for the handset user, like their phonebook and contact lists-- and some useful information for the network operator-- like the unique ID of the device, and what keys to use to communicate with the device using encrypted GSM modes. (This is one of the reasons why you need a new SIM when a telco improves the network technology-- they need to reissue you a new cryptographic key pair that works better on their physical network.)

In essence, the phone company does not provision a HANDSET-- it provisions a "System Identity"-- the S and I in SIM. This is why you can yank the SIM out of basically any device with the right kind of antenna, and stuff it into any other, and use your number and data plan. (and in the case of travelers, buy a prepaid SIM, slap it into their existing phone, and use it to make calls with the prepaid number while on vacation.)

This "Programmable internal chip" approach is trash.

Here's why:

1) First up, the user has no direct control over the identity currently assigned to their handset. The carrier/network operator has all the keys. If you want to use a prepaid identity, you have to FIRST call your carrier, have them re-flash your phone with the new identity, and THEN you can make the local calls on vacation. This is basically what Verizon's CDMA network is like--- you want a new phone? Call verizon. You want to go on vacation? Call verizon. Anything to do with managing the phone at all? Call verizon. (I dont think I need to explain that verizon's Customer Support is legendarily bad.)

2) It allows surreptitious reprogramming of your phone. Uncy Sam's buddies at the NSA want to issue you a "Very special" crypto key without your knowledge, so they can intercept all your encrypted SMS messages? SURE! says the telco carrier--- they wont even notice a thing! Then of course, you have the usual hacker element, who love fucking with other people's things-- and what could be more fun than reprogramming somebody's phone so that they constantly get calls about blowjobs, and other stuff-- hmm? (basically, switch their system identity with that from a known and notorious prostitute-- etc.)

And the reason for this?

(sarcasm)
"Its lighter, and costs less to manufacture the phone! Also, you dont have to fiddle with the little chip inside when you first buy it! It saves you a whole 5 minutes of effort! Isn't that FABULOUS!?"

(/sarcasm)

Re:Security Nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739781)

It's Subscriber Identity Module.

Cloning a phone just got easier... (2)

neorush (1103917) | about 10 months ago | (#45739357)

How long before the market for phone serials are is just as big as credit card data. I would imagine this technology be jail broken in hours and then the bad guys can easily change phone numbers. Imagining being able to change phones in-between calls, or how about randomly using a stolen one...that said, I do feel moving this to software is a good idea. As long as I can switch carriers as easy as the carriers can switch it.

What could possibly go wrong? (5, Insightful)

CokoBWare (584686) | about 10 months ago | (#45739405)

I view this as bad for a number of reasons:

1. Normally, when you have service, it's attached to the SIM, not the phone. With this new embedded SIM model, this goes away. Your service is attached to the phone. Bad.
2. Remotely programmable means that it will be even easier for hackers to fuck with your phone. Bad.
3. Your phone is really no longer your phone. The carrier will have ultimate jurisdiction over the phone, unless you pull the battery. Bad.
4. If I lose or seriously damage my phone, my SIM is gone, and I HAVE to buy a new phone and activate it again. Bad.

I won't want a phone like this if this is how the carriers want to do business. I'll keep my removable SIM card thank you very much.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 10 months ago | (#45739445)

You hit the nail on the head. With CDMA providers, unless you buy the device from them, AFAIK, they won't allow it on the network. With GSM providers, if you had an unlocked device with the proper antenna bands, it would work without issue, and just swapping the SIM did the job. No calling up and pleading for permission to use the device, just a card swap and perhaps a power cycle.

A simless device gets us back to the bad old days. With those, I have to beg/plead with the telco in order to have a device allowed on their network, and they can easily just give me the middle finger.

Thumbs down on simless devices.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 10 months ago | (#45739581)

Yup. I will never be a customer for a phone that doesn't let me use the SIM of my own choosing.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45739979)

1. Normally, when you have service, it's attached to the SIM, not the phone. With this new embedded SIM model, this goes away. Your service is attached to the phone. Bad.

It's not even for phones - maybe some day, but not yet.

Who, exactly, gets to send over the air updates? (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#45739465)

To fix this issue, the GSMA has developed a non-removable SIM that can be embedded in a device for the duration of its life, and remotely assigned to a network. This information can be subsequently modified over-the-air, as many times as necessary.

What this seems to do is take control away from the user, who could swap SIM cards, and give it to some carrier. This looks like something where you beg and plead with your old carrier to let you switch your device to a new carrier. There's a lot of elaborate key management in this system, and compromise of certain keys could break the whole system.

Spec for the system architecture. [gsma.com]

Re:Who, exactly, gets to send over the air updates (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45739807)

What this seems to do is take control away from the user, who could swap SIM cards, and give it to some carrier.

When you say "seems to," do you really mean "could possibly some day"?

This looks like something where you beg and plead with your old carrier to let you switch your device to a new carrier.

That sounds more like something you're inferring than something being implied by the article.

There's nothing in the article to suggest it's going to make it's way into consumer devices just yet. It might one day, but not yet.

The GSMA has published the technical description of a SIM card designed specifically for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication

Despite the convenience of over-the-air management, the GSMA says the embedded design is not meant to replace conventional SIM cards

Re:Who, exactly, gets to send over the air updates (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 10 months ago | (#45740305)

If it's more profitable for the carriers to sell embedded-sim phones, then that is exactly what they will do, regardless of the intent of the specification or the wishes of it's designers.

Also, would never work for European market. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739497)

Haven't seen a single person who used freaking roaming when buying a local SIM card for the time being was cheaper.

Re:Also, would never work for European market. (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 10 months ago | (#45739613)

I live in the USA and I'm in the UK right now, using a local SIM. If you don't offer than capability, you've shrunk your market to only the people who don't travel (hint:not the ones who tend to buy the fanciest phones).

Or: more network lock-in like CableCard did in US (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739565)

CableCard was supposed to allow "better interoperability of set top boxes" in the US, but it ended up going almost nowhere because the cablecos could effectively advertise its features while stonewalling its implementation in favor of their own proprietary STBs.

Given the history of carriers to cooperate and interoperate on a device level, I think the result will be similar for this. Consumers need to have control and in my mind that means a thing you can access as a consumer; be it a hardware card you swap or an interface on the device. This solution buts things squarely back in the hands of the carriers.

bye bye physical security. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739621)

well maybe that wasn't so important

Hardware write locks? (2)

mrex (25183) | about 10 months ago | (#45739675)

I'd be OK with this, under one condition - a hardware-based write protection lock that is absolutely 100% not able to be bypassed or circumvented in software.

I'll never understand why this incredibly basic feature that is so easy to design, cheap to implement, and valuable to device security went the way of floppy disks. How awesome would a thumb drive with a hardware write lock be?

Re:Hardware write locks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739771)

Isnt there such a feature on SDCards?

Get yourself an SDCard to USB adaptor, keep that on your keychain instead of the USB stick, and use the little toggle thing.

Re:Hardware write locks? (1)

Bill Hayden (649193) | about 10 months ago | (#45739793)

How awesome would a thumb drive with a hardware write lock be?

These exist. I use one regularly to load malware-cleaning software onto infected machines, without risking getting the thumb drive itself infected.

Re:Hardware write locks? (1)

mrex (25183) | about 10 months ago | (#45740303)

Can you link me to one? I still use an old SD card and reader for exactly this reason.

I think my larger point stands anyway, though. Why aren't write locks absolutely bare bones standard on any writable device?

Re:Hardware write locks? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 10 months ago | (#45739885)

Your hardware lock would negate the advantage of the embedded SIM design. The reason for embedded SIM is that you can remotely change the carrier, phone#, etc. without having to physically access the device. This is intended for use in devices such as cars, machinery, etc. It is not intended for use in your phone (most people here seem to have missed that little detail). If you have to physically access the device to flip a hardware lock, you might as well just use a regular SIM.

Re:Hardware write locks? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45740077)

It is not intended for use in your phone (most people here seem to have missed that little detail)

How can you expect us to fulfil our need to become apoplectic with nerdrage if you want us to notice things like "details"?

Re:Hardware write locks? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 10 months ago | (#45740175)

I agree. The discussion would have been much shorter and a lot more intelligent if people hadn't felt the need to rage about "prying my SIM from my cold dead hand".

Re:Hardware write locks? (1)

mrex (25183) | about 10 months ago | (#45740523)

Fair point. I can envisage scenarios where modifying the SIM remotely would be helpful. Then again, I can envisage scenarios where it could be a very, very bad thing. My main point was user empowerment - if I can choose between two models of a device, one with a hardware lock, one without... I'll be happy with that.

Not like cellular device security is anything but an oxymoron anyway...

Re:Hardware write locks? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 10 months ago | (#45740581)

It's not for your phone. You can keep your SIM.

Flimsy cover story (2)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 10 months ago | (#45739833)

Preventing the need to open up devices to swap a SIM could be easily resolved by using a simple spring-loaded insert/eject slot for SIM cards (the same way most SD card slots work). That this is because of the "Internet of Things" is a cover story, and a weak one. What's more of a hassle? Spending 30 seconds to swap SIM cards or spending 30 minutes on hold before mentally parsing the unintelligible engrish of a slave-wage phone drone?

This is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. The only "problem" this solves is enabling the carriers to revert to the abusive and restrictive CDMA model.

Re:Flimsy cover story (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45740067)

Preventing the need to open up devices to swap a SIM could be easily resolved by using a simple spring-loaded insert/eject slot for SIM cards

That would still need physical access to the device, which is the problem this proposal is actually trying do away with. It might also (speculation on my part here, but doesn't seem unreasonable) run the risk of causing more problems when users brick their phones or SIMs by popping the SIM without turning off the phone.

This is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist to me.

FTFY. There are plenty of use cases where this would be an incredibly useful facility. Just because none of them personally impact on you doesn't mean this is automatically a nefarious conspiracy to (some day, in the future, possibly, but not now) rob you of control over your phone.

Multiple phones and SIMs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45739835)

I prefer plain generic unlocked SIM free phones even at the added cost.
The advantages an unlocked and unsubsidized SIM free phone is no carrier bloatware or carrier O/S mutilation....

I have more then 1 phone and more then 1 SIM.
I swap them out as I need for the current situation.

A.) Work SIM
B.) Personal SIM
Never the 2 shall meet and even different carriers.

1.) $mart phones - unfortunately a requirement of modern life and work.
2.) Rugged phones - for situations when I don't want to chance damaging the $mart phone but still have to be available "electronic leash".
3.) Cheap "burner" quality "disposable" grade phones - for security when I go out for the evening, to parties or special events etc. If damaged, trashed, lost or stolen I wont be out much other then the inconvenience of possibly having to replace a SIM with only a few core contacts and none of my personal / private data that lives on the $mart phone.

Would just be another way for the carriers to hold you hostage.

It would facilitate a resurgence in phone cloning.

What else could go wrong?
The carriers only have our best interest at hart? Don't they?
Like resisting the creation of an industry black list of stolen phones to combat phone thefts.

Re:Multiple phones and SIMs (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 10 months ago | (#45740385)

And international travel.

Apple pushed this in 2010 but carrier said 'NO' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45740177)

From this story on Oct 2010 at GigaOM:
"It’s rumored that Apple and Gemalto have created a SIM card, which is typically a chip that carries subscriber identification information for the carriers, that will be integrated into the iPhone itself. Then customers will then be able to choose their carrier at time of purchase at the Apple web site or retail store, or buy the phone and get their handset up and running through a download at the App Store as opposed to visiting a carrier store or calling the carrier. Either way, it reduces the role of the carrier in the iPhone purchase. Gemalto and Apple have not responded to requests for comment. I’m also waiting to hear back from other sources to get more details."

http://gigaom.com/2010/10/27/is-apple-about-to-cut-out-the-carriers/

So this... (1)

0m3gaMan (745008) | about 10 months ago | (#45740233)

apparently solves a nagging prroblem? Isn't that like saying: "No more swapping car keys"?

Something wrong with headline (4, Insightful)

Pop69 (700500) | about 10 months ago | (#45740283)

"Embedded SIM Design Means No Longer Able To Swap Cards"

There, that reads better

ESN (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 10 months ago | (#45740363)

So...GSM now has an ESN? All this talk about the "Internet of Things" is really just saying that the devices are getting the equivalent of a MAC Address and can be remotely provisioned. And phones will still have SIM cards.

Guess there's nothing wrong with that, but I thought there was a big reason for GSM's push to have SIM cards in the first place.

The Internet of Things isn't a thing (3, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 10 months ago | (#45740621)

It's marketing, like "the cloud". It's such a gross oversimplification that it's meaningless.

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