TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: The SIM Card Turns Fifteen

The SIM Card Turns Fifteen

Mr Joseph Singer (
Tue, 22 Aug 2006 16:10:38 PDT

No other smart card has taken the world by storm the way the
Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) has. Since it was introduced on the
market 15 years ago, the SIM card has seen its power and performance
soar. At first, it "merely" served security and personalization
functions in GSM networks. Today, it turns mobile phones into
versatile, secure terminals for wireless customers.

Munich technology group Giesecke & Devrient (G&D) is celebrating a
special anniversary. It was 15 years ago that the first commercial SIM
cards were delivered to Finnish mobile communications corporation
Elisa, at that time still known as Radiolinja. In its initial stages
of development, the SIM card was intended to make mobile telephony in
GSM networks as secure as talking on the phone of a fixed-line
network. To accomplish that, it was designed to clearly establish the
identity of wireless customers in order to prevent mobile networks
from being abused. Additionally, it was meant to safeguard the
confidentiality of user data. Its second key feature was its
flexibility. Whenever customers changed phones, the SIM card could
simply be transferred to the new handset.

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