Verizon, LTE and Over the Air SIM card provisioning

Verizon recently announced Gemalto and G&D as their partner for SIM cards and remote provisioning for their LTE rollout. Remote provisioning of SIM cards (e.g. change the list of preferred network operators, network name, etc.) has become pretty much common over the past couple of years but there might be a twist with Verizon and LTE:

Today, remote provisioning of SIM cards is done via SMS. When such special SMS messages are received by the mobile device it automatically forwards them to the SIM card for execution without interaction with the user. What I am not quite sure is how that will work over LTE, because SMS over LTE is not standardized. Of course it would be possible to use the "3GPP CS fallback" feature to 2G GSM or 3G UMTS to receive the SMS messages. However, in Verizon's case that might not be possible for two reasons:

  • Their legacy system is based on CDMA, which does not have SIM cards. Hence, the CDMA part of a mobile phone might not have the necessary standardized software to forward those data SMSes to the SIM card.
  • The current LTE specs of Verizon say nothing that LTE terminals have to have a CDMA part.

So I am not quite sure how over the air provisioning will work in practice in Verizon's case!? Has there been something standardized in LTE or CDMA for "native" remote provisioning of SIM cards? If you have more info, I'd be happy to hear from you!

5 thoughts on “Verizon, LTE and Over the Air SIM card provisioning”

  1. The CDMA phones do have similar sort of Over The Air (OTA) provisioning. The remote provisoning in CDMA is quite common also some third party OTA Provisioning plateforms like Telespree are there which takes care of forwarding the OTA Provisioning information to RUIM/SIM.
    I am not much sure about LTE but for CDMA OTA Provisioning works very fine.

  2. Verizon could either of 2 methods for achieving this:
    a. OTA provisioning
    b. SMS
    The SMS would use SIP message method. As you may already be aware, Verizon has already adopted IMS and will be rolling out IMS-based apps on their eHRPD network from next year, which are expected to work once LTE is launched too.

  3. Hello Duncan,

    hm, how interesting! Let’s see if I can dig it out of the CS fallback standards. I’ll keep you posted.

    Thanks for that!

  4. And again hello Duncan,

    yes, the 3GPP specs also say that SMS can be delivered via LTE to CS fallback capable mobiles (without falling back). It’s 3GPP TS 23.272 Chapter 8 for GERAN and UTRAN.

    In Verizon’s case, however, Annex B applies (fallback to 1x-RTT). Here, nothing is mentioned for SMS delivery, so I guess it’s not an option for Verizon.


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