Unlocking Network Efficiency: A Conversation with Lieven Vanthomme

Are you looking to understand how to maximize your investments in private networks and gain control over your public network consumption costs? In an illuminating interview with Lieven Vanthomme, Managing Director of Belgium-based Telcofan and our European partner, we delve into how you can maximize network efficiencies. With over three decades of experience in mobile telecom, including pioneering work on the first GSM networks and early adoption of 5G in 2020, Lieven is a trailblazer in mobile network innovations.

The focal point of this dialogue is one of the leading use cases enabled by SIMbae™, our innovative SIM/eSIM software applet. It’s all about achieving seamless switching between public and private networks, and Lieven and his team are leading the charge in real-world implementations.

Q: Lieven, it’s great to have you with us today. Let’s dive right into the topic. In light of Able Device’s recent partnership with BICS, you’ve been integrating SIMbae into your client solutions. What specific needs have you observed?

Lieven: Absolutely, there are exciting opportunities to make networks work better using SIMbae. We’ve seen strong interest from sectors adopting private networks quickly. In the healthcare sector in the Netherlands, for example, there are now about 600 private networks. Their initial use case focused on using public network as a backup to their private network. By law, the hospitals need to comply by having a robust critical emergency alert system for all their medical staff and employees in the event of fire, security and other safety threats. Previous attempts using public networks as backup fell short due to latency issues, taking up from 4 to 12 minutes to connect. With SIMbae, hospitals can switch to a public network within 30 seconds, ensuring they stay reliable and safe.

Q: Fascinating! For those unfamiliar with the delays in network switching, could you explain the reasons behind the 4 to 12-minute connection time?

Lieven: Public network complexities, including availability of multiple frequencies, contribute to the time required for connections. Unlike the optimal solution we’ve built with SIMbae, using WiFi isn’t viable due to multiple signal interference or devices not coping correctly with the switching between mobile and wifi technology. The same switching issues were encountered on devices using two different SIM cards (dual-SIM). As devices switch to public networks, they perform extensive scans and connection attempts across frequencies to establish connections, leading to the delays. With SIMbae, we’ve significantly reduced this to within 30 seconds by fine-tuning and giving it the intelligence to find the primary network as its first action. It’s also configured to discover the secondary network if primary is inadequate, all the while ignoring other frequencies.

Q: That’s a remarkable improvement. Have you encountered similar needs from clients in other sectors?

Lieven: Indeed, the potential extends across various industries. For instance, companies monitoring temperature-sensitive cargo need reliable connections during transitions from private to public networks. Similarly, enterprises requiring uninterrupted real-time video streaming, such as high-level security surveillance, benefit from immediate public network access when their private networks go down.

Q: Thanks for sharing those insights, Lieven. The opposite scenario of needing fast, reliable and seamless public to private networks switching is one of the top requests we receive from clients. As an example, we have found that incursion of strong public network signal within the private network range can keep devices connected to public networks longer than expected.  Could you also please share insights on what you are hearing from clients on this topic?

Lieven: That is by far the most obvious and immediate value for implementing SIMbae. The most important motivation by my clients is to maximize the investment they have made in private networks.  When enterprises invest hundreds of thousands to even millions of euro in private networks, the expectation is that they can efficiently manage their costs with public network consumption as an additional benefit. Being able to immediately access local applications within the security of the private networks is important as well in certain use cases.

Q: Can you highlight some of these challenges and your approach to tackling them?

Lieven: Absolutely, challenges arise due to various reasons. One key concern is strong persistent public network signals can hinder the autonomous switch to private networks as you mentioned. In addition, the existing mobile network standards dictate that the SIM/eSIM can recognize private networks as its ‘home’ network in one country only. For example, a device configured to recognize the Belgium factory as its private network will remain on public network even when it enters other private network ranges by factories owned by the same company in another country. Last, but not the least, a persistent open data connection on public networks can also delay the switch. Using the earlier example of hospitals, the staff on a public network on a Facetime call while returning to the hospital will not automatically switch to the private network. All of these contribute to incurring public network consumption charges that should be avoidable. We are able to deliver a seamless solution by taking the pre-existing configuration scripts included in SIMbae and easily modify and test as appropriate to support our client’s use cases.

Q: It’s evident that seamless switching is crucial. Can you elaborate on the cost implications and how SIMbae addresses these issues?

Lieven: Certainly. Data consumption on public networks can rack up costs significantly. Each instance outside typical unlimited data bundles can cost around 25 euros, posing a considerable expense for businesses with numerous connected devices. SIMbae helps manage by taking control on when and how to connect and switch between networks using the standard SIM/eSIMs to help businesses manage these costs and challenges.

Q: Your insights are invaluable, Lieven.  Thank you so much for sharing these with us. How can clients witness the solution in action?

Lieven: Absolutely, we’ve established a solution test lab in collaboration with Able Device and the BICS team. Anyone interested can experience our solution with SIMbae firsthand. Simply reach out to us at sales@telcofan.com.

In summary, SIMbae isn’t just a software applet; it’s an award-winning transformative game-changer. Its adaptability across various SIM types, coupled with our ready-to-use script templates, holds immense potential beyond what we’ve explored today. You can easily customize to cater to a range of needs like ensuring best quality of service, enhancing device security, or streamlined remote device management and diagnostics. Best of all, SIMbae empowers users to configure SIM applets without the need for complex Java Card or SIM tech knowledge. You can extend and configure new capabilities without the coding hassle.

Ready to explore and learn more about SIMbae? If you want to see SIMbae in action and meet with one of our experts, please contact us. We’re excited to collaborate with you on unlocking new possibilities!