What is In-Factory Profile Provisioning (IFPP)?

Eseye author


IoT Hardware and Connectivity Specialists


Innovations in IoT and other M2M connected devices are arriving at speed, making the process of embedding and managing cellular SIM profiles easier than ever, and finally paving the way for billions of new IoT activations globally over the next few years.   

Even with the arrival of Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP), which oversees the secure storage, deployment, and activation of multiple network operator profiles on eUICC (embedded universal integrated circuit card) SIMs, the focus has been on managing the SIM of a device after it has been deployed into the field, resulting in a not insignificant power draw. And in IoT, battery life is everything.

There is however a technology emerging as an alternative to in-the-field provisioning, which may be more appropriate for pre-configuring many forms of IoT and M2M devices, and that is In-Factory Profile Provisioning (IFPP).

IFPP manages and integrates eSIM profiles while the IoT device is still in production at the factory, by way of an over-the-air profile loader in the manufacturing line. It also introduces benefits including reduced logistics and manufacturing complexity as well as improved battery life for the IoT device itself.

In-Factory Profile Provisioning (IFPP) capitalizes on the benefits introduced by eUICCeSIMs and iSIMs – which embeds the module into the IoT device’s main circuit board, and eliminates the need for a separate plastic SIM card.

IFPP securely loads relevant MNO or MVNO SIM profiles onto IoT devices during the manufacturing or order fulfilment process. This has significant implications for manufacturers in terms of streamlining their own processes, and allowing for dynamic changes to the production line based on characteristics such as the geographic location into which the IoT device is to be deployed.

Instead of managing a physical inventory of plastic SIMs that would be manually fitted into each IoT device, the manufacturer can request eSIM profiles from different operators and these are loaded over-the-air when the device connects to a network. This can either be a test network or a public network depending on the initial startup profile on the SIM.

Typically this process will be combined with the flashing of the device firmware or other software as part of manufacturing or fulfillment.

While IFPP can be used in conjunction with RSP to provide even greater flexibility for IoT deployments, it is seen as an alternative to in-the-field provisioning, which may not be appropriate for many forms of IoT and M2M devices. We go into the specific benefits later in this article.

IFPP is a great asset for embedding cellular SIM profiles into IoT and M2M devices, simplifying supply chains, reducing operational costs and improving in-the-field operational performance.

The journey to highly scalable IoT and M2M deployments via eSIM and RSP doesn’t stop with SGP.32. Standardized support for IFPP is to be realized through GSMA specification SGP.41/42, where the working group is developing a specification as part of its eSIM and RSP standardization activities.

The specification (SGP.41/42) will help simplify the loading of operator profiles at the manufacturing stage but the standard is currently awaiting completion, with commercial implementations still a few years out.

While the SGP.42 standard can be expected to arrive in 12-24 months, there are IFPP-enabled solutions already on the market that will bridge the evolution gap and offer an upgrade path. More details on one such partnership between Eseye and Thales are at the end of this article.

The power-saving benefits of IFPP are where the technology excels. While Remote SIM Provisioning (RSP) in IoT enables eSIM profiles to be installed, switched, and deactivated over-the-air when the device is in the field, the process can consume up to 15% of the battery’s capacity.

This can significantly reduce the lifespan of a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) device that might be intended to be in-situ for up to 10 years.

Applying the appropriate SIM profile at the point of manufacture via IFPP eliminates the need to push an update when the IoT device is activated in the field, conserving valuable battery capacity. But IFPP can still be used in conjunction with RSP of course, so updates can still be made after deployment.

Prior to the introduction of eSIM and iSIM, which embeds the SIM into the main device circuit board, IoT device manufacturers maintained an inventory of plastic card-based SIMs, each with their own specific operator profiles.

Maintaining this inventory is a management headache and leads to many production delays because the manufacturer also has to manage multiple SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) – one for each device/SIM profile combination.

A device intended for US deployment may need to support up to three profiles for geographic coverage, while a device intended for European deployment may need to support as many as 30 profiles because each country has its own operator(s).

IFPP can streamline production runs and reduce the number of SKUs by enabling the manufacturer to flash different SIM profiles to the device in production as required.

Although more a direct benefit of eSIM and iSIM, IFPP contributes to the elimination of the need for large quantities of plastic SIM cards, which reduces waste and is more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

An extension of the above point, IFPP significantly speeds up production volume and simplifies the IoT device production process. Without the need to install plastic card-based SIMs, the production line moves faster. And any last minute changes can be made easily and at scale, by dynamically updating the profile being flashed to devices currently in production.

Because IFPP IoT devices are pre-configured to connect to the most relevant network on activation, there is no need for a bootstrap profile or to push an initial OTA profile update via RSP.

This makes the initial deployment of an IoT device easier and reduces the need for local MNOs and MVNOs to support bootstrap profiles on the Home Subscriber Server (HSS).

IoT industry analyst firm Transforma Insights goes into greater depth on the benefits of IFPP in manufacturing.

Enterprises are already able to future-proof IoT connectivity with solutions that support multiple standards from SGP.22 to the forthcoming SGP.32 in 2024, and even SGP.41/42 in the future. As an example, Eseye’s partnership with Thales significantly simplifies the management of the IoT device lifecycle.

Eseye’s Infinity IoT connectivity management platform leverages the Thales Adaptive Connect (TAC) solution to provide eSIM-based devices with out-of-the-box connectivity and RSP capabilities. This means enterprises and device manufacturers can avoid provisioning connectivity profiles in-the-field, by embedding them via IFPP before the device ships.

Instead, IoT devices are automatically connected using the most appropriate profile for their location and use-case the first time they are powered up.

Discover Thales Adaptive Connect (TAC)

The partnership with Thales marks the first-to-market, cloud-based SGP.32 eSIM platform solution to eliminate the need for IoT connectivity providers like Eseye to configure a large number of IoT devices before deployment in the field.

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Eseye author


IoT Hardware and Connectivity Specialists


Eseye brings decades of end-to-end expertise to integrate and optimise IoT connectivity delivering near 100% uptime. From idea to implementation and beyond, we deliver lasting value from IoT. Nobody does IoT better.

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