Embedded SIM Cards Coming Soon in Aerial Drones


A SIM card. / Photo by: Bjoertvedt via Wikimedia Commons


By 2022, more than 13 percent of robotic drones will support SIM cards and advanced cellular functionality, according to a new report. The support of SIMs is due to the rising number of apps that offer services like live streaming and real-time monitoring.

According to BGR, the driving forces of embedded SIM support in drones are the additional LTE capabilities from operators and the new regulations for basic connectivity -- policies related to data analytics and location sharing. Many users of aerial drones would be able to receive these benefits from the 4G network and the upcoming 5G network.

“Further, eSIMs (embedded SIMs) would play an important role in cellular connectivity of drones to mitigate privacy, safety and security concerns. Some operators such as T-Mobile Germany, Orange, Vodafone, and Verizon have already been trialing LTE-based drones and see eSIM capability as a natural implementation path,” said Anshika Jain, a research analyst at Counterpoint Research.

Last year, chip manufacturer, Qualcomm, said that a user can control a drone over LTE. A team of engineers conducted a trial to determine the capability of LTE in handling drones. About 1,000 flying drones were assigned to collect data and sent them to respective servers for processing and analysis. After the trial, they checked the performance of the drones under LTE networks and found key findings, such as:

- Drones received strong signals even at higher altitudes and down-tilted antennas.

- Drones had superior handover performance compared to ground-based mobile devices.

- Drones displayed a statistically lower signal quality of the network-to-drone link at higher altitudes.

While LTE can support the robots, network innovation would take the performance of the drones into the next level. With the arrival of 5G, several optimizations in bandwidth, network speed, and power efficiency are expected to reach the flying machines in the near future.