Earlier this week we posted a report titled "Apple Secretly Moves Next-Gen iPhone Baseband Processor Development In-House to Possibly Enhance Security." Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that may reveal yet another aspect of Apple's future radio systems. Apple's new patent relates to the field of wireless communication, and more particularly to a system and method for performing location-based updating of subscriber identity information in an iDevice which utilizes an embedded subscriber identity module (eSIM).
Apple's Patent Background
Wireless communication systems are rapidly growing in usage. Further, wireless communication technology has evolved from voice-only communications to also include the transmission of data, such as Internet and multimedia content.
In order to enable their wireless device to access a wireless communication network (e.g., a cellular telecommunication network) which provides such services, a user may in some cases be required to subscribe to a service provider (a "carrier"), who in turn may provide such services to the user, e.g., via a wireless communication network which they operate.
Such subscribers in a wireless communication network are typically assigned subscriber identity information, which may for example be stored as part of a subscriber identity module (SIM) in the subscriber's wireless device.
For example, a commonly used type of subscriber identity information is an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), which identifies a subscriber's wireless device in their carrier's network. For subscribers to roam outside of their home network, their carrier may negotiate roaming agreements with other network operators so the visited network recognizes the subscriber's identity and allows roaming to proceed. Negotiating and administering these agreements can be time consuming, and there may be a limit on how many roaming agreements a carrier may choose to support. As a result, emerging or smaller carriers can have difficulty offering extensive roaming coverage.
It is also possible for a user to carry two (or more) identities on a SIM in their wireless device. For example, one may be provided by a home carrier and another may be provided by a roaming broker who has roaming agreements with international operators. Switching from one identity to the other may be either user triggered or automatically selected.
However, if a user arrives at a location at which their carrier does not provide service and has not negotiated a roaming agreement with a local network operator (regardless of how many subscriber identities may be stored on their wireless device), the user may not be able to utilize at least some of the wireless communication capabilities of their wireless device.
Furthermore, even if the user's home carrier has negotiated roaming agreements in a location, it may not be desirable (e.g., because of additional costs) to a user to automatically continue to use their current subscriber identity in that location. Accordingly, improvements in wireless communications would be desirable.
Apple Invents System for Location-Based Updating of Subscriber Identity Information in Embedded SIMs
Apple's invention generally relates to the field of wireless communication, and more particularly to a system and method for performing location-based updating of subscriber identity information in an iDevice which utilizes an embedded subscriber identity module (eSIM).
Apple states that it might be desirable for an iDevice (or UE - user equipment) to detect its location, provide certain (e.g., location-specific) subscriber identity related options to a user, receive user input selecting an option (and possibly further user input specifying further details of the selected option), and implement the selected option. Such a process would enable the user to select their preferred subscriber identity choice based on their current location.
Future iDevices may include one or more antennas for performing wireless communication. In one example an iDevice may receive information from one or more cellular towers (cellular base stations), via a global navigational satellite system (GNSS) such as the global positioning system (GPS), and/or via a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) connection.
Depending on the location, the iDevice may present one or more options to a user or may automatically perform one or more actions such as continuing to use the current subscriber identity if the iDevice is in a location with service from a carrier corresponding to a current subscriber identity of the iDevice or UE. It could also automatically switch to a second subscriber identity if the iDevice is in a location with service from a carrier corresponding to the second subscriber identity of the iDevice which has been previously configured to do so.
In some scenarios, it may particularly be desirable to present the user with an option for purchasing/provisioning a subscriber identity module (SIM), for example an embedded SIM (eSIM), with a new subscriber identity which is local to the detected location, e.g., if the iDevice is in a location without local service from a carrier corresponding to a current subscriber identity of the iDevice.
In case such an option is selected, the iDevice could store (or obtain, e.g., via specially permitted communication using a network of a local carrier) a list of carriers and/or service plans for the iDevice's current location (and possibly other locations). The iDevice may thus be able to provide a list (or other indication) of such carriers and/or plans to the user, in order to provide the user with options for local subscriber identities.
And lastly, Apple notes that once a carrier/plan has been selected, an iDevice could obtain subscriber identity information according to the selected carrier/plan and configure itself accordingly. Once the iDevice has been configured with the newly obtained subscriber identity, the iDevice may register with the network corresponding to its newly obtained subscriber identity and obtain cellular service according to selected service plan.
There's a lot of detail behind patent application 20140099916 which Apple credits Sr. iOS Cellular Performance Engineer Raghuveer Malikarjunan (who used to work at Qualcomm) and Wael Barakat as the inventors. To review this patent application, click here. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
A second radio based patent application from Apple was published today entitled "Adaptive Channel Estimation for Coordinated Multipoint Cellular Communication." Click here to review the details of this particular Apple invention.
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