Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 26th Mar 2012 22:39 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless "Last week, Apple and Nokia got into a very public dust-up over the future of the SIM card - a staple in phones all around the world - thanks to a Financial Times article pointing out that the two had filed competing proposals with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) for the so-called 'fourth form factor (4FF) UICC', more commonly known as the 'nano-SIM'. The nano-SIM proposals seek to standardize a new SIM card that would be even smaller than the current micro-SIM popularized by the iPhone, freeing precious extra millimeters inside the phone's chassis for more circuitry, more battery capacity, and slimmer profiles. We've now had a chance to see the original proposals for the nano-SIM standard from Apple, Nokia, and RIM, and we have a better idea on what the ETSI will be voting on later this week."
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mantrik00
Member since:
2011-07-06

The Verge article has an obvious Apple bias.

1. It states Apple popularized the current SIM which was already widely used across the world much before the iPhone. (See how myths are created.)

2. Nokia's SIM is smaller in size therefore it best serves the primary objective of saving more space while playing by the rules.

3. The best decision would be to do away with physical chips all together and replace them with software/firmware chips so that many more type of devices can communicate.

Reply Score: 6

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

3. The best decision would be to do away with physical chips all together and replace them with software/firmware chips so that many more type of devices can communicate.

That could be an interesting option, but it would require quite a lot of work. The difficulty of copying a SIM card serves both carriers and their customers quite well*, while pretty much every single purely software-based DRM scheme ever devised to date has been broken in a matter of months (or maybe in a few years for the most resilient ones).

* Carriers like to sell SIMs that cost them a few cents for a hefty price, while customers like that it is hard to crack their phone account.

Edited 2012-03-27 03:08 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

* Carriers like to sell SIMs that cost them a few cents for a hefty price, while customers like that it is hard to crack their phone account.


You forgot that some customers have multiple phones and/or service needs when traveling and like to switch between them. Give me a swapable sim card any day rather than the internal firmware that we use on CDMA devices here in the states. Without a swapable sim of one form or another, we are completely at the mercy of the carrier if we want a different device, and there are those of us who do not buy our devices from the carrier for any number of reasons.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Neolander,

"That could be an interesting option, but it would require quite a lot of work. The difficulty of copying a SIM card serves both carriers and their customers quite well*, while pretty much every single purely software-based DRM scheme ever devised to date has been broken in a matter of months"

As they say, DRM is fundamentally flawed and broken by design.

I agree a soft-sim would be an interesting option, a soft sim would enable one profile to get distributed across a multitude of devices without physically transferring a chip, although phone companies probably dislike this idea already.

I think the security issues could be mitigated by using PKI and still retaining one device with a real SIM card that is capable of signing soft sims. From the real sim card it would be an easy matter to authenticate other devices and list the soft sims that have been generated, even revoking them if necessary.

Reply Parent Score: 3

tanishaj Member since:
2010-12-22

The best decision would be to do away with physical chips all together and replace them with software/firmware chips so that many more type of devices can communicate.


No thank you. The best thing about GSM is that I can pluck out my SIM card and drop it in another phone. It also means that I can use my primary phone on different networks and in different countries.

Already the fact that now some of my phones have full-sized SIMs while others have micro-SIMs is a pain. Adding nano-SIMs better have a pretty big benefit for the additional incompatibilities that they add.

I use an iPhone as my primary phone but I also have Android and Windows Phone devices. Right now, I can switch my number to any one of them in a few seconds without talking to my carrier or anybody else. Please, please do not screw that up.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Amen! Take away the SIM and you are taking away the last bit of freedom that consumers have from the carriers. No thank you!

Reply Parent Score: 4

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

The Verge article has an obvious Apple bias.

1. It states Apple popularized the current SIM which was already widely used across the world much before the iPhone. (See how myths are created.)


If Apple didn't popularize it, who did? Nokia has adopted it for the Lumias, there are a couple of Motorola and Samsung phones -- all after the iPhone. Articles about Apple's brazen adoption of the micro-SIM and the need for carriers to adapt to a form that only they were using are easy to find. (I know micro-SIM predates Apple's use, but we aren't talking invention or first use, we are talking popularization. Micro-SIMs were almost exclusively used in scenarios where it was completely soldered and not swappable prior to Apple causing carriers and other manufacturers to adopt it for consumer, swappable use.)

2. Nokia's SIM is smaller in size therefore it best serves the primary objective of saving more space while playing by the rules.


You've read the Standards RFP from ETSI and the two competing proposals? What rules do you think someone isn't playing by? It seems to me that Nokia, RIM, and Motorola are running to the press a week before a vote they are about to lose with a lot of false information and misleading comments in hopes of influencing that vote...

3. The best decision would be to do away with physical chips all together and replace them with software/firmware chips so that many more type of devices can communicate.


Apple spent a year trying that and instead they adopted Giesecke & Devrient design. Who's G&D? They invented the SIM more than 20 years ago. Oh, you fell for Nokia, RIM, and Motorola claiming this was Apple's proposal when in fact it is Apple acting as the strongest supporter and advocate for the design created by the inventor of SIM?

Edited 2012-03-27 05:18 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

karunko Member since:
2008-10-28

"The Verge article has an obvious Apple bias.

1. It states Apple popularized the current SIM which was already widely used across the world much before the iPhone. (See how myths are created.)


If Apple didn't popularize it, who did?
"
You are right here: The Verge was indeed talking about micro-SIM, not the standard SIM we've been using for ages.

"2. Nokia's SIM is smaller in size therefore it best serves the primary objective of saving more space while playing by the rules.


You've read the Standards RFP from ETSI and the two competing proposals? What rules do you think someone isn't playing by?
"
The article clearly quotes one requirement:

"The design of the fourth UICC form factor shall prevent the 4FF from becoming jammed in a Mini-UICC reader. An example is that if the 4FF is turned 90 degrees and it fits perfectly into the Mini-UICC reader (4FF length = Mini-UICC width)."

and remarks that:

"Nokia contends that Apple's design violates that requirement, and it's easy to see why: its nano-SIM is roughly 12mm long while the existing micro-SIM is 12mm wide, giving users the opportunity to jam a nano-SIM sideways into a micro-SIM slot and get it hopelessly stuck. It's a scenario that the ETSI's documentation specifically calls out."

Also, Nokia's and RIM's are clearly smaller, so if the goal is really to shave oh-so-precious millimeters off the new SIM, why would anyone pick the largest one?

Oh, you fell for Nokia, RIM, and Motorola claiming this was Apple's proposal when in fact it is Apple acting as the strongest supporter and advocate for the design created by the inventor of SIM?

Could be, but why is Apple willing to offer its micro-SIM design royalty-free (http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/apple-to-offer-nano-sim-design...) then?


RT.

Reply Parent Score: 3

dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

3. The best decision would be to do away with physical chips all together and replace them with software/firmware chips so that many more type of devices can communicate.


Not from the security standpoint. Integrated SIM will make it vulnerable to phone hacks. Hacked sim would mean an armageddon for carriers and a complete collapse of mobile payment.
Given Android and XDA pursue for sw openness or at least hack-ability that's the huge risk for carriers but also having sw-only sim would create a huge FUD argument for Apple's and MS's closed systems agains Linux based OSes in phones.

Edited 2012-03-27 11:13 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

dsmogor,

"Hacked sim would mean an armageddon for carriers and a complete collapse of mobile payment."

I think that's a bit exaggerated. For example: online banking and (US) credit cards are used by millions without any cryptographic user authentication at all, in effect, making those even less secure than a software sim. Credit cards can be worth tens of thousands of dollars and use extremely weak authentication and yet the industry hasn't suffered an armageddon. Why not?

Well, unless a user plans on committing some sort of fraud against his own account, he's got nothing to gain or loose by "hacking" into his own accounts. "Hacking" by an owner doesn't represent a loss for either the bank or the owner. With a phone, if an owner manages to hack into his own device, then so what?

The more immediate problem in my opinion is protecting devices from 3rd party attacks, and this is an area I feel none of the manufacturers have done a good job with because they depend on walled garden for security instead of developing better OS integrated security like sandboxing and virtualization.

In any case this is all moot since carriers find the sim card business profitable and that's probably the overriding factor anyways.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

3. The best decision would be to do away with physical chips all together and replace them with software/firmware chips so that many more type of devices can communicate.


I'm guessing you don't live in the U.S. If you did you'd already know how bad an idea this is. That's how CDMA (i.e. more than half of) phones in the U.S. are sold, and it simply sucks. It means your phone is bound to your contract, and only your provider can allow you to switch phones. It's a locked-in world with pretty much no upside for the consumer, other than saving a tiny bit of space in the phone's profile...

Reply Parent Score: 2