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IIJ Develops Multi-Profile SIM That Enables to Connect to Multiple Cellular Networks

Ensures Continuing Connectivity during a Cellular Network Outage by Switching Cellular Network on Demand

October 25, 2022
Internet Initiative Japan Inc.

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TOKYO - October 25, 2022 - Internet Initiative Japan Inc. (TSE Prime: 3774), one of Japan's leading Internet access and comprehensive network solutions providers, today announced that it has developed a multi-profile SIM that makes it possible to connect to multiple cellular networks with a single SIM, and will begin a Proof of Concept (PoC) together with a partner company that provides IoT solutions. The multi-profile SIM allows customers to select which cellular network they are connected to at any time. This SIM is expected to provide greater availability for IT systems used in social infrastructure, such as IoT devices and electronic payment terminals, in the event of a cellular network outage.

The background behind the development of this multi-profile SIM

In recent years, cellular network outages have caused lengthy communications disruptions across the country. This has interfered with the operation of IoT devices, electronic payment terminals, and other devices which use cellular networks, causing major social impacts. There is a need for technologies that ensure continuing connectivity even in the event of such an outage. IIJ's multi-profile SIMs have not only a profile for IIJ but also for another mobile telecommunications provider on a single SIM. Each of these profiles contains information that is used to connect to cellular networks, and the profile used for connection can be switched by a command from the device. When a network outage occurs and the device detects that it is unable to communicate with a server, the device switches the SIM profiles, and then restores connectivity by using different cellular network.

The advantages of the multi-profile SIM

Ensuring connectivity in the event of a network outage is achievable by simply inserting two SIMs, each capable of connecting to a different cellular network, within the same device ("dual SIM"). However, this requires the device to have two SIM slots, one for each SIM. Not only does the hardware design need to be changed, but this approach also imposes high hurdles for both component costs and circuit board footprints. With the multi-profile SIM, only one SIM slot is required for switching multiple cellular networks, so there is no need to make hardware changes. Profile switching can be performed by sending a simple command from a program on the device, so existing devices can support the multi-profile SIM with only minor software changes.

Cellular roaming is also used to switch multiple cellular networks with a single SIM. However, cellular roaming requires a subscriber database, as known as HSS/HLR(Home Subscriber Server/Home Location Register, which is located in the mobile operator's core network for managing SIMs), operated by the roaming provider. In the event of a network trouble that negatively impacts the operation of this subscriber database, it will become impossible to roam any cellular networks as intended. With the multi-profile SIM, the subscriber database for each profile can be independent, so even if a network trouble affects a subscriber database that manages one profile, connectivity can be maintained by switching to the other one.

Using roaming services for domestic communication is unreasonably expensive, but multi-profile SIM can maintain its communication cost as reasonable level by selecting the non-roaming IIJ profile as its main profile.

Future outlook

IIJ plans to provide the multi-profile SIM, for which a PoC project has been recently launched, as a solution using IIJ Mobile Service, IIJ's MVNO services for corporate users. IIJ will also actively develop and provide services in conjunction with IoT solution providers.

About IIJ

Founded in 1992, IIJ is one of Japan's leading Internet-access and comprehensive network solutions providers. IIJ and its group companies provide total network solutions that mainly cater to high-end corporate customers. IIJ's services include high-quality Internet connectivity services, systems integration, cloud computing services, security services and mobile services. Moreover, IIJ has built one of the largest Internet backbone networks in Japan that is connected to the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia. IIJ was listed on the Prime Market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2022.

The statements within this release contain forward-looking statements about our future plans that involve risk and uncertainty. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results.

For inquiries, contact

IIJ Corporate Communications

  • (*) All company names and service names used in this press release are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

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