TCA Supports Continued MNO Rollout of 5G SIMs


To support increased momentum for 5G SIM shipments globally, the Trusted Connectivity Alliance (TCA – formerly SIMalliance) has updated its ‘Recommended 5G SIM’ technical definition to align with new use cases introduced by 3GPP’s Release 16 Specifications for 5G Phase 2.

Publication of the enhanced Recommended 5G SIM document coincides with TCA confirming that 2020 was the first year of widespread 5G SIM rollout, based on member market data.

TCA’s ‘Recommended 5G SIM’ document helps mobile network operators (MNOs) maximise investments in core 5G network infrastructure by selecting the right choice of SIM technology at 5G launch. It does this by outlining the optimal technical features required by SIM technology for MNOs to leverage opportunities presented by 5G networks and address challenges posed by 5G migration.

The latest updates respond to powerful new features introduced by 3GPP Release 16 for 5G Phase 2 and are aimed at promoting trust, addressing emerging use cases across massive IoT applications, critical communication infrastructures and connected vehicles, and supporting the delivery of enhanced services. Key new SIM features include: additional subscriber privacy protections; private network access across enterprises and industry verticals; and cellular vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. Various features to enable the delivery of improved mobile experiences are also identified, including: 5G roaming; network slicing support; trusted non-3GPP network access; and multi-device and multi-identity services.

“In the same way that network core architecture is evolving, SIM technology is transforming to meet new challenges and opportunities introduced by 5G,” comments Claus Dietze, Chair of the TCA Board. “Our latest member market data indicates that MNOs already recognise the benefits of upgrading to more advanced SIM technology. With momentum now building across the industry for Phase 2 deployments, TCA’s updated technical recommendation will ensure that the full benefits of SIM technology can be delivered. TCA strongly advocates for the adoption of the enhanced 5G SIM as it will enable MNOs to unlock the full potential of 5G networks and promote the highest levels of trust and functionality.”

The SIM / eSIM is the only platform which can be used to secure 5G network access according to 3GPP – the 5G standardisation body. TCA first defined the Recommended 5G SIM in December 2018 to outline which technical features of SIM technology address the challenges MNOs face, beyond network access, when migrating to 5G.

‘TCA Recommended 5G SIM: A Definition’ is available for free download on the TCA website. The guidance provided in the technical document relates to both 5G Phase 1 (3GPP Release 15) and 5G Phase 2 (3GPP Release 16). The TCA Recommended 5G SIM is fully backwards compatible.