Smart Cards

Smart Cards are micro-processor equipped tokens, able to store and process a diverse range of data and applications. The Smart Card is used in most banking and healthcare [personal] cards as well as in mobile telecommunications and for broadcast service subscriber services.

ETSI and 3GPP have produced the most successful Smart Card to date - the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM), of which there are currently more than 4 Billion cards in circulation.

Early achievements with the SIM have evolved to the Universal Integrated Circuit Card (UICC) - which offers a multi-application security platform providing the user with a wealth of opportunities. The UICC provides 'logical channels', allowing applications to run in parallel.

The new high speed interface currently being standardized will allow the Smart Card to be used for Digital Rights Management (DRM), stream ciphering (Pay TV) and as a mass storage device.

The ETSI Smart Card Platform

TC SCP was set up in 2000, to create a central focus point for the standardization of a common IC card platform for mobile telecommunication systems, allowing the participation from companies not necessarily involved in GSM & 3GPPTM Standards. It is responsible for creating a series of specifications for a Smart Card platform on which other bodies can base their system-specific applications to achieve compatibility between all applications resident on the Smart Card.

TC SCP considers the development and maintenance of specifications for the Secure Element (SE) and its interface with the outside world for use in telecommunication systems including the Internet of Things (IoT).

Our work considers the interface, procedures and protocol specifications between the SE and other entities used in its management. It also spans interfaces, procedures and protocol specifications between such entities for the secure provisioning and operation of services making use of the SE. The specifications we develop are generic and application-agnostic. As such they can be used for any application designed to reside within the SE. They have thus found their way into other applications, such as ID management and the contactless interface specified by TC SCP, that are used in financial services.

We maintain our focus on the next generation SE that is needed for the security functions provided by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPPTM) for 5G. Trust and privacy in IoT and mobile applications are crucial market drivers. As such, our new-generation Smart Secure Platform (SSP) will contribute significantly to achieving these goals.

Our specifications are widely used by the industry and certification bodies. The continuous maintenance and updating of test specifications to cover new features and functionality thus forms a significant part of our work. We explore IoT devices which make use of technologies specified by TC SCP. As these devices do not always implement the full feature functionality specified, this requires a review of existing test cases together with the definition of new test cases where required. The nonremovability (or even integration) of a Secure Element sets new challenges: these will also be assessed in our testing work.

3GPP work on SIM card and USIM evolution

3GPP was established to develop specifications for 3rd generation mobile telecommunications in the ITU IMT-2000 family, 3GPP is also responsible for the maintenance and evolution of the specifications for the GSMT Standard, and transitional technologies towards 3G.

The 3GPP Core Network and Terminals experts in Working Group CT6 - is responsible for work on the SIM (used by 2G), the USIM (Universal SIM) for 3G systems and the ISIM (IM Services Identity Module) for the IMS domain.

A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ETSI standards search. Via this interface you can also subscribe for alerts on updates of ETSI standards.