SIM

In terms of 'sales' the (Subscriber Identity Module) SIM must rank as ETSI's most successful standard. There are four billion SIM cards in the world and no sign of a slowdown in the demand for them. Now the SIM Card is set to develop in to the 'Smart Card' with a growing variety of applications and features.

The SIM used in Digital Cellular Telecommunications Systems like 3G or GSM is the entity that contains the identity of the subscriber. When the SIM is placed in a terminal or handset, users can register onto a network.

The primary function of the SIM is to authenticate the validity of a terminal when accessing the network. It also provides a means to authenticate the user and may also store other subscriber-related information or applications.

The ETSI work on Smart Cards now looks to evolve the SIM card, towards allowing contact-less data flow for Identity, Security and Payment applications.

SIM standardization is concentrated in two committees:

3GPP-CT6

Technical Specifications Group, 'Core Network and Terminals' Working Group 6 (CT WG6) is responsible for the specifications of Smart Card-based network authentication applications such as the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) which is used by 2G systems, the USIM (Universal Subscriber Identity Module) which is used by 3GPP™ systems and the ISIM (IM Services Identity Module) with the exception of the security algorithms (developed by 3GPP™ Systems Aspects (SA) WG3).

The group is responsible for the standardization of the USIM/SIM for applications on top of the Smart Card Platform.

See http://www.3gpp.org/specifications-groups/ct/wg6.

ETSI technical committee smart card platform (SCP)

The Committee is responsible for the definition of the Smart Card Platform.

USIM (See listing below)

The Universal Subscriber Identity Module (USIM) is a 3G application on an IC card. It interoperates with a 3G terminal and provides access to 3G services.

The USIM application for 3G telecom network operation defines:

  • specific command parameters;
  • file structures;
  • contents of EFs (Elementary Files);
  • security functions;
  • application protocol to be used on the interface between UICC (USIM) and ME.

In addition 3GPP™ defines the interface between the UICC and the Mobile Equipment and procedures for the USIM Application Toolkit (USAT):

  • the commands;
  • the application protocol;
  • the mandatory requirements on the UICC and ME for each procedure.

UICC (see listing below)

3GPP™ specifies the interface between the UICC and the Terminal for 3G telecom network operation, which includes:

  • the requirements for the physical characteristics of the UICC;
  • the electrical interface between the UICC and the Terminal;
  • the initial communication establishment and the transport protocols;
  • the model which serves as a basis for the logical structure of the UICC;
  • the communication commands and the procedures;
  • the application independent files and protocols.

ETSI SCP specifies the interface between the UICC and the terminal in general, such as:

  • the requirements for the physical characteristics of the UICC;
  • the electrical interface between the UICC and the terminal;
  • the initial communication establishment and the transport protocols;
  • the model which serves as a basis for the logical structure of the UICC;
  • the communication commands and the procedures;
  • the application independent files and protocols.

ISIM (See listing below)

The specification of the IP Multimedia Services Identity Module (ISIM) application for access to IMS services contains:

  • specific command parameters;
  • file structures;
  • contents of EFs (Elementary Files);
  • security functions;
  • application protocol to be used on the interface between UICC (ISIM) and Terminal.

This is to ensure interoperability between an ISIM and Terminal independent from the respective manufacturer, card issuer or operator.

Contactless interface

The specification defines a radio frequency-independent interface between the UICC and a Common Log File (CLF) component in the terminal. This interface allows the card to be in use, even when the terminal is switched off for telecommunications use.

The ETSI SCP specification specifies the interface between the UICC and the CLF component based on a single wire protocol (SWP).

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