The EDGECELSIOR Show: Stories and Strategies for Scaling Edge Compute

Revolution and Evolution: SIMs, Security and the Future of Connectivity at MWC 2024 with Patricia Feng, VP, Connectivity and IoT Sales North America for G+D

February 20, 2024 Pete Bernard Season 2 Episode 4
The EDGECELSIOR Show: Stories and Strategies for Scaling Edge Compute
Revolution and Evolution: SIMs, Security and the Future of Connectivity at MWC 2024 with Patricia Feng, VP, Connectivity and IoT Sales North America for G+D
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As we approach MWC 2024 in Barcelona, Spain, unlock the mysteries of SIM card evolution and the burgeoning impact of edge computing on business with our latest guest, Patricia Feng, VP, Connectivity and IoT Sales North America for G+D.

Discover a story that begins with the humble GSM standards and waltzes through the technological advancements leading to 5G and NFC. Through Patricia's expert lens, we're guided through the complexities of modern connectivity, all while savoring the flavors of Silicon Valley innovation that G+D so passionately infuses into their product development. This episode promises an exploration of cultural influences on tech evolution and a peek into the future of seamless, secure cloud-connected experiences.

Embark on a voyage through the miniaturization of SIM cards, unraveling their transformation into integral components like iSIM and eSIM. Patricia sheds light on the multifaceted benefits these advancements offer, from wearables to the vast Internet of Things, and the intricacies of managing secure credentials—an arena where G+D shines. 

Furthermore, we cast our gaze towards the horizon, where today's investments in 5G SA and the whispers of 6G potential beckon. Take a seat at the table of tomorrow, as we dissect the interplay of security and innovation, ensuring you leave equipped with knowledge to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of connectivity.

Want to scale your edge compute business and learn more? Subscribe here and visit us at https://edgecelsior.com.

Pete Bernard:

okay, and we'll edit this thing. I'll edit the audio. At the end of the day, we'll get 20.

Patricia Feng:

If it doesn't work, we can always redo.

Pete Bernard:

We'll make it work. We'll make it work Soon, it's fine. It's fine Great. Well, I mean great, to see you again. I think the last time we saw each other in person was at NWC in the fall.

Patricia Feng:

Yes thing month, yes thing a while.

Pete Bernard:

Time to go, time to go. So a lot of things have been happening since then. Why don't we start with, kind of it's a good warm up, what's the Patricia Fang origin story? Give us a little viewer. How did you get to G+D doing what you're doing right now? Because I know that you were at Gemalto and GEMPlus and all these other places. And so give a. Give us a little of the origin story and let the listeners know who you are and what your deal is.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, well, thank you for having me. I'm Patricia Fang. I've been with G+D for almost seven years, but have been in industry for like 23 years approximately, and I would say I never leave SIMcard environment.

Patricia Feng:

I think, I'm just falling in love with SIMcard and I never get bored. I would say when I started it was a very simple GS pack and it's at a GSM and a standard and there's only two specs that we need to read about SIM technology 3G, pv, 11.11, 11.14. And then nowadays we continue to evolve to LTE, cdma migration and then 5G, etc. So, and also in between there's the NFC kind of the emerging technology coming in. So I never got bored in this SIM environment. It just has been. Technology just enlightens you and there's more use cases enable us to continue to think what is connectivity, what is connectivity enablement and how the secure environment is kind of essential to all the different use cases.

Patricia Feng:

So, yeah, so that's about me. I'm originally from Taiwan and then moved to US for school and then continue the journey in US. I would say I'm rooted now in San Francisco Bay Area and, yeah, still in love with the technology, happy to help with the whole ecosystem to make the IoT space secure, the connectivity space exciting, and also utilizing all the AI technology to kind of processing the data to help us to make better business decisions.

Pete Bernard:

Right, yeah, well, that sounds great. So you sort of found your niche and kind of doubled down on that, and now you're an expert. So that's good, good.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, think clear.

Pete Bernard:

So you find something that resonates with you, you get really good at it and then you just keep going, because I think the stuff that you're involved in is pretty universal. I think we'll talk about security and connectivity, and these are like foundational pieces of the whole technology world Right, and so to become an expert in that over the years is pretty cool.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah.

Pete Bernard:

Good yeah, the Bay Area. I live in the Bay Area for about a dozen years or so, though in San Francisco proper. I started in Palo Alto. I first lived in Palo Alto and then north, but yeah, no, it's a great area. I think for people that are listeners that have never been in the Bay Area, it's definitely a nice place to visit.

Patricia Feng:

So yeah, it's a very exciting place. I think a lot of new initiatives come from the Silicon Valley and it's just exciting to be at the front of the technology and there are new uses coming out and then kind of trigger you to think, okay, what should we do next? So we're kind of like the front line and then trying to get all those requirements and new innovative ideas coming in and then reshape our product offering from the G+D perspective.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, and the nice thing about the Bay Area and Silicon Valley is the ecosystem is kind of all around you. I mean, it's your neighbors, it's the parents of the kids in school, it's like that's who you're working with in many cases. So it's such a tight community down there, the tight density of tech folk.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, definitely.

Pete Bernard:

So that can be kind of fun too. And then G+D, the company you work for, is actually based in Munich, right. So that's in the cool thing you get to Germany often, right? What's the difference between that and what's your frequency on that?

Patricia Feng:

I go there more and more often. It used to be once a year and now it's probably two, three times or four times. I love the culture of G+D. It's very family oriented and, as you know, we actually are the innovator of the SIMCARD so back in 1980s and then also under the G+D family umbrella, we're on the currency technology, e-payment, banking and also secure identity now, as well as the mobile security firm. So my side of the territory is focusing on mobile security to help the kind of like connectivity areas to enable the ecosystem Right.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, I mean, I think security becomes such a pervasive topic, sometimes overlooked. I mean, sometimes we don't talk about security until there's a problem. But you know, sort of designing it from the beginning has become so important, and there's things like hard root of trust and the whole concept behind the SIM. By the way, for people that don't know what a SIM is, we could talk about that for a while. But you know that little piece of cardboard that's in your phone that's the SIM.

Pete Bernard:

There's e-SIM and so it gets a little more hypothetical. But basically there's a set of credentials on a little thingy inside your device that's on a cellular network, and G+D, as you mentioned, basically invented the SIM or was one of the pioneers in that space, and that's kind of the foundational piece of security. Right is authenticating what is this thing that's connecting into the network and why are they and how are they authorized to do so, right? So I mean, what do you see as the new baseline in security these days in terms of connecting things to the cloud? Like, what's the best practice these days?

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, I think it all depends on the type of devices and the use cases. The demand of having a device that is always connected is a trend that the whole ecosystem is looking forward to. So I would use a very simple thing like your blood pressure machine or your weight gill at home that insurance company may start looking into, hey, are you really tracking your blood sugar properly, your weight properly? And then a doctor may also want to track you down to make sure you're really following the guideline, et cetera. And then traditionally all those devices are kind of using a Wi-Fi or even not connected. It's kind of sync to your mobile phone with the app et cetera.

Patricia Feng:

But it's not a very streamlined process to make sure that all the data are securely shared among different parties that can be used for different purposes.

Patricia Feng:

So we start seeing insurance company interested in about those connected things to help them to make a better proposal or help the clients or even the corporate to make a better business decision. So it's a very interesting way to see how the same car was traditionally just to help you to call somebody. Then eventually we can start doing SMS, short form message, like you can text each other and now you can do video call thanks to the network, et cetera. And now it's expanded all the way to your smart city. Like the street lights, right, you want it to be sure that it's smart enough to turn on when it's supposed to turn on, or you know when the network is down. Then there's a kind of contingency plan to trigger the light, to be kind of reboot, et cetera. All those requires a very stable or consistent connectivity in order to transform those data to the back end and then back end can do the additional processing and make the necessary change.

Pete Bernard:

But the key is to make sure that the street light is authenticated to say I am allowed to be on this network, right.

Patricia Feng:

Exactly.

Pete Bernard:

Without that, if everyone just kind of hops on a bunch of free Wi-Fi or whatever, then who knows who's talking to who? Right, and where the data came from. At one of the challenges I think that we have when we start connecting these things together, right Is like how do you make sure you authenticate each element on the network? Right, a string, a thread or a toothbrush or whatever, to say I am who, I say I am and I am authorized to communicate this data? Right, and I think that's probably a lot of what GND has been focused on. Right, it's kind of providing that kind of authentication in those credentials.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, we call that as a secure element. So it's kind of outside of the device environment, kind of separate area to make sure all the data is stored securely and we do have a unique ID so that can really identify you as a you. We also store algorithms to make sure the encryption is done, to make sure the communication from A to B is secure. So it's about authentication, also identification and that's a beauty of the SIM card that can be applied to different use cases.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, and I don't know if you heard about that whole toothbrush incident. It was like there was like three million toothbrushes in Switzerland or something that were infected with some code to do like a denial of service attack, basically send a bunch of this and mass back to the server to take out this company's servers or whatever. But they basically infected the toothbrushes with some code to communicate back. But that's an example like kind of an unauthenticated device, right.

Patricia Feng:

Right, right.

Pete Bernard:

That's kind of connected through Bluetooth, through your phone and yada, yada, yada, and even though it's convenient to do that, I think we're going to see a lot more kind of I think attention paid to authenticating all these things that are connected to the network to make sure they're authorized to do that.

Patricia Feng:

Yes.

Pete Bernard:

Kind of fundamental. So, yeah, we, like I said you only hear about security when something like that happened, and hopefully we can flip the script a little bit I'm sure that's what G+D is trying to do Say, let's talk about security before there's a problem, not after the toothbrushes attack. Yeah, yeah, interesting. And you mentioned SIM. So let's kind of go back on the SIM.

Pete Bernard:

What I mentioned, like, most people think of the SIM as this little piece of cardboard that you stick in your phone and used to be. They used to be I should have had some props with me Well, we're only recording audio, so it doesn't matter but they were like some decent sized squares of cardboard and they got smaller, like micro SIM. They got smaller and smaller and now they're not even cardboard anymore, it's just an eSIM, it's just a chip on the board. That's a secure element. So, like the new iPhones have eSIM, right. So maybe you can kind of give us a little education where the SIM has sort of evolved over time. And so where is it heading? Maybe it's already there, I'm not sure.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, definitely so. If you look at the footprint of the SIM card traditional SIM card it's actually pretty big, right, so it's pretty big from the board perspective. So that's the start of how we evolved from the traditional. I think the generation one was the ID size, like your credit card size, and I still remember my uncles using a phone and was like inserted a whole piece of credit card size card to the back of the phone. I think it was like Ericsson divides generation one and then they continue to evolve to smaller, smaller, smaller, from 2FF, 3ff and then 4FF and then on the end but honestly, it's still taking a lot of space. And you look at the SIM card, it's actually more expensive than SIM card itself. So the device makers are thinking, ok, what are the other form factor we can think of? So you continue to evolve to the wafer level. It's just getting smaller, smaller and better form factor. And then now we are even looking into an integrated SIM it's called ISIM which is at the assistive chip level, and all in all, they still to address.

Patricia Feng:

Basically, I think the idea is to address different device type with the fact that the device are getting smaller. Your watch needs to be connected. You don't want to have a bulky SIM slot or even for security reasons, you don't want people just be able to remove the SIM card. So, for example, I show you a data for your watch to be connected. I don't want you to take it out and put it into your laptop. Then you start using this connectivity for laptop purpose. So all those are the reasoning behind the sizes of SIM card.

Patricia Feng:

But if you kind of hear down those layers, the technology cell is still in there, the calming of the virtual ISIM, which is still required as a piece of security element on the device, because that's the backbone of the hardware. But the beauty of the ISIM is basically that you won't be able to have this physical movement from one device to another of this physical piece of hardware become like a very a seamless transfer, digital transformation from A to B, from one device to another. And I use the iPhone as an example. If you got the new iPhone 15, for example, instead of like clicking on a spot, you basically put two e-identifies together and then the e-thing will quickly transfer, and seamlessly, to the next device. So from connectivity providers perspective it's a very seamless user experience, like I would say if my grandma knows how to use it, then where's the successful? That's a good bet.

Pete Bernard:

Right, yeah, and you mentioned, like so not too long ago, phones had external SIM slots, like you said.

Patricia Feng:

Right.

Pete Bernard:

In some countries, you know, especially like dual SIM phones are very common, right, you'd have kind of one SIM for roaming and one SIM for domestic and you'd have a little SIM wallet out there, you know, and people would have all their SIMs and swap them around. And then as phone got thinner, right, and you got to 10 millimeters and eight millimeters or whatever, you know, the idea of having this big, bulky watch didn't really make a lot of sense. And then you know, phones also used to have removable batteries, so sometimes they put the SIM slot underneath the battery. Now phones don't have removable batteries because there's a thin and so there's no place for the watch anymore. And, like you said, it's expensive. You think about manufacturing the cost of a slot that you have to put a piece of cardboard in. That's quite expensive.

Pete Bernard:

So I'm sure everyone would rather just not do that and, like you're saying right now, they can put another chip on the board next to the SOC, called an eSIM, and then eventually that eSIM will be integrated into the SOC as an ISIM Great SOC integrates them, and that's where we're heading. So, but the concept is still the same. Right, there's a secure element there where credentials are stored right and encoded and authenticated. So the network, you know, when it connects the device, says can you please show me your credentials? And the device says, here, they are right there in this ISIM, esim thing so it's kind of an evolution.

Pete Bernard:

It's funny you mentioned like, yeah, the credit card size SIM. I don't know, that's even maybe for my time. I don't know, that's a long time ago.

Patricia Feng:

I did see that before, thanks to my uncle.

Pete Bernard:

But no, I remember the SIM wallets and multi-sims, especially across Europe they were very common, I think less in the US. I don't think the US really ever had the dual SIM thing really ever caught on.

Patricia Feng:

Oh, I do have to say yes, I was in Taiwan back then, so maybe that's an Asian thing.

Pete Bernard:

I know across Europe, like in Italy, and so they were. Sim wallets and it was crazy. But yeah, I know and it's interesting, and so there's also a back-end.

Pete Bernard:

I think one of the things G+D does right is provide the back-end infrastructure to sort of manage these credentials across multiple operators right, absolutely, because there needs to be servers in the cloud quote unquote that are managing these credentials, especially as you're roaming from one network to the other, and G+D plays a really important part in sort of stitching all that together. So I'm not sure everyone knows this.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, I know it's pretty cool and so that's where things are heading. And then I guess the other part, I guess the part B of that question is you know, when we talk about edge computing and IOT things like that, anything connected to the cloud, you know, kind of the most important part of the word in that sentence is connected right, and so you know, none of this will happen unless there's connectivity, and of course there's always fiber. But the really interesting things are connected wirelessly and that's where G+D comes in. So where do you see sort of some of that heading with? When we've got 5G standalone now being rolled out, that's interesting. But then 6G but LPWA, lower WAN, all kinds of stuff Like what are the different ways people are going to be connecting things, moving forward to the cloud and to the wired infrastructure? What's, what's the perspective?

Patricia Feng:

I think the rise of the private network is basically the very strong trend coming in for security reason or even for network expansion reason. So I would use Enterprise example. Traditionally, the whole factory is covered by a Wi-Fi router to enable this whole facility is completely Wi-Fi enabled. You have to know like sometimes the Wi-Fi is not stable not discounting the beauty of Wi-Fi, because my son cannot live without Wi-Fi but they probably will need maybe a handful of by 50 Wi-Fi router to cover the whole factory and with the console private network you basically can trim down that number of router into 10 or even 5, because it's actually serving wider environment. So that's, and also they can ensure the private network is authenticated and secure. It's kind of, from enterprise perspective, the control environment as well, and that expanded to a different network right.

Patricia Feng:

The next trend that we are heavily involving to is the non-terrestrial network, the satellite network. So, honestly, it's really thanks to the easy technology that continue to evolve From the traditional automotive use cases to consumer use cases that people start getting familiar with this ease and concept. And now we're transitioning into the IoT space where they need the thing, basically the things that doesn't have a screen can be connected. And also, if you look at the geographic, there is a lot of non-terrestrial area. So how do you make sure you can continue this connectivity journey securely from the land to the sea, even to the air? But that's where the beauty of the ease comes in that can ensure that you can make sure that, whatever this thing is, whatever this thing is traveling to or under what circumstances, we always have a network that can make it connected and securely.

Pete Bernard:

Right, it's a multimodal way of making things. You mentioned private networking. That seems to be a hot topic. I read where that hospitals are looking at private 5G networks out of their infrastructure to augment the Wi-Fi, because there's always Wi-Fi in hospitals and it's always a little dicey. But getting back to the security issue and authenticating devices on the network, there's probably no better way of really having that sort of security than having a private 5G network and having all your possible equipment on a homogenous high quality of service. Private 5G network that's separate from the Wi-Fi network that all the patients are on streaming looks and all stuff you know.

Patricia Feng:

Exactly.

Pete Bernard:

But I'd seen that as a hot period. And then you mentioned satellite too, which I think is also fascinating. We have Starlank, we have Kuiper, Magnata, a lot of these folks that are shooting a lot of things up into orbit. Up there they don't collide I'm sure they figured that out but a lot of things flying around the earth now that are connecting sort of cell towers in the sky, basically right. And so that's probably another huge area for enabling especially connectivity for, like you said, things in motion, things outside of sort of typical population centers too, right.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, and then you see also another very interesting use case is all the electric vehicles, right, and then if you go to a national park, there's an entirely very low cellular coverage, depending on how high you drive up to right. And then so Wi-Fi? There's no Wi-Fi when you're in. Of course, people purposely to go there so that they can really be disconnected.

Pete Bernard:

If you want to go there, you can sort of stream the Netflix series.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, exactly, but then generation has changed and there are different reasons why connectivity is needed. It's not just for browsing or Netflix, et cetera. It's actually for your security. How can we ensure that you still are being able to call for an emergency if you need to? Or what if my car breaks down or I had the car accident? There's still a way to connect to as for help. So yeah, so basically I would say the Eastin continued to serve as the most trusted secure element on the device, and then we're able to address different network coverage and different assets as well.

Pete Bernard:

Right, and then you have the G+D infrastructure sort of stitching it all together on the back end. So that's.

Patricia Feng:

Yeah.

Pete Bernard:

For the end user. They just stay connected or the device just stays connected, regardless of where it is. Yeah, we light, the terrestrial cellular to whatever?

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, we have been working with the device maker community for many, many generations years. I would say this is also our expertise. We're not only managing the credential securely in the backend, managing the transaction of the e-sense, but we also work very closely with the device maker module maker community to ensure their device is able to adopt this new e-sense transformation technology. So, all in all, I see more devices coming in different use cases and that's where you see a different form factor. The sync card comes in different type of data processing, power needed, et cetera, like battery power device. Right, how can you ensure this e-sense is not really draining down your battery? There are certain smart meters needs 20 years of lifetime. Your trackers being stored on the vehicle need 20 years lifetime. How can you ensure you have the flexibility to kind of find the best available network but also retain your battery? So all those are the things that GND have a bunch of SME behind, helping the whole ecosystem ready for the adaptation.

Pete Bernard:

Cool, and so I suspect you're planning your trip to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Patricia Feng:

Yes.

Pete Bernard:

Very soon. What are you looking forward to at MWC? What's your, what's on your mind?

Patricia Feng:

Yeah, we love Barcelona and I am sure many of us love to go to that event.

Patricia Feng:

I think that it's the best time to hold the ecosystem together Because nowadays, if you look at the opportunity of the thing needs to be connected, it's not.

Patricia Feng:

The whole ecosystem is getting complex, the technology is getting complex and then this Mobile World Congress kind of gather all the expertise from different ecosystem. We all sit down to brainstorm and to come out with plan to what is the priority product line to make sure that things are addressed and then prioritized in the next generation. So we will be actually we are actually sponsoring a lot of summit. We'll talk about how e-them is evolved from automotive consumer to all the IOT and we're also talking about how e-them can enable the VNO, the virtual network operator, even private network operators, to bring this technology in and to onboard new devices that coming onto the network. And also talking about AI. Right, they actually is a channel that kind of like enable the channel to collect those data. How can we ensure those can be utilized by the AI to make sure that we're helping the enterprise, helping the operators, to make the right decision and provide better service to the end consumer?

Pete Bernard:

Right, right, yeah, especially I would think like fraud detection and other kinds of things. I mean AI would really help them. Back to the security perspective right If. Ai could look at that kind of traffic in those toothbrushes and say that does not look right, some preemptive repair or shutdown or something. I think that would be helpful. So I think we'll see AI pop up especially in the telcospace around fraud detection in kind of preventive maintenance as well as customer experiences?

Pete Bernard:

Yes, definitely. That'll certainly be a hot topic at MWC. It's great that you'll be driving some summits there and, like you said, the whole ecosystem gets together and it's kind of like a speed dating In one day like 12 or 15 really good conversations.

Pete Bernard:

That would have taken you six months otherwise, and so that's exciting about Barcelona Plus, it's Barcelona, yeah, good, we would have competed Great. Well, that's really fantastic, patricia. I'm glad we were able to reconnect and catch up on some of these things. It sounds like G+D is kind of in the middle of the whole telco ecosystem and not a lot of people know about G+D as much as they would know about an AT&T or a Vodafone. But one of the things that's important to understand is that companies like G+D are kind of the foundational kind of ditching together a lot of this stuff to make it happen, and so it's great to be able to talk to you and get some insights on that.

Patricia Feng:

Well, thank you. It's an honor to have this chance to share our know-how and also explain who G+D is. We're a German company. We're actually very humble, but we deliver when we promise we can do it. It's a German culture.

Pete Bernard:

There you go. Sounds good, all right, sounds good, patricia. Well, I hope we can reconnect in the new video, looking forward to it.

Patricia Feng:

Thank you so much, pete.

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