Configuring eSIM profiles on Windows devices

This week is all about configuring eSIM profiles on Windows 10 devices by using Microsoft Intune. An eSIM is an embedded digital version of a SIM card that enables the user to connect to the mobile network provider, without an actual physical SIM card. It can be programmed to the mobile network provider and data plan of choice. That can provide an Internet connection over a cellular data connection on an eSIM-capable device. Even though the eSIM functionality is available for most platforms, Microsoft Intune currently only supports the configuration of eSIM profiles on Windows 10 devices. In this post I’ll start with a short introduction, followed by the steps to import and assign eSIM profiles. I’ll end this post by having a look at the end-user experience.

Introduction to eSIM profiles

Windows 10 provides programmatical support for provisioning an eSIM profile on the device and Microsoft Intune enables organizations to use that functionality to automatically provision eSIM profiles on the device. Microsoft Intune provides organizations with the capability to import the activation codes that are provided by the mobile network operator. That can be used to configure the related cellular data plans on the eSIM module by deploying those activation codes to the Windows 10 devices. When Intune installs the activation code, the eSIM hardware module uses the data in the activation code to contact the mobile network provider. Once completed, the eSIM profile is downloaded to the device, and configured for cellular activation. To deploy eSIM profiles to the Windows 10 devices by using Microsoft Intune, the following are needed:

  • eSIM capable device – such as the Surface Pro X
  • Windows 10 version 1709 or later that is enrolled and managed by Microsoft Intune
  • Activation codes provided by the mobile operator (more about those later)

Deploying eSIM profiles on Windows devices

The deployment of eSIM profiles by using Microsoft Intune can be divided into three actions. The first action is creating the CSV-file, the second action is importing the CSV-file and the third action is assigning the eSIM profile.

Creating the CSV-file

Let’s start with the first action, which is creating the CSV-file. This is an important step, as the CSV-file as to contain specific information and the CSV-file is not the same on every line. When creating the CSV-file be sure to be familiar with the following

  • The activation codes in the CSV-file are used one time, but can be imported multiple times by using different CSV-files – Importing an activation code multiple times may cause problems when deploying the same activation code to multiple devices.
  • The CSV-file should be specific to a single mobile network operator and the activation codes should be specific to the same billing plan. 
  • The CSV-file can contain a maximum of 1000 activation codes that can be imported.
  • The name of the CSV-file should be unique – Importing a CSV-file with an existing name will cause problems.
  • The structure of the CSV-file must follow the format as described below. 
  1. The name of the CSV-file becomes the cellular Subscription pool name
  2. The first row of the CSV-file contains the URL of the mobile network operator eSIM activation service, also known as the Subscription Manager Data Preparation server (SM-DP+).
  3. The second and all later rows of the CSV-file contains the unique one-time use activation codes that include two values:
    1. First column contains the unique ICCID (the identifier of the SIM chip)
    2. Second column contains the Matching ID (the actual activation code)

Importing the CSV-file (adding the cellular subscription)

The second action is importing the created CSV-file, which will add cellular subscriptions to Microsoft Intune. This can be achieved by simply following the three steps below.

  1. Open the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center portal and navigate to Devices > eSIM cellular profiles to open the Devices | eSIM cellular profiles (Preview) page
  2. On the Devices | eSIM cellular profiles (Preview) page, click Add to open the Add cellular subscription blade
  3. On the Add cellular subscription blade, browse to the created CSV-file that contains the activation codes and click OK to add them.

Adding cellular subscriptions by using the Graph API can be achieved by using the embeddedSIMActivationCodePools object.

https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/deviceManagement/embeddedSIMActivationCodePools

Assigning the eSIM cellular profile

The third action is assigning the eSIM cellular profile, which will deploy the eSIM profile to the devices. It’s important to know that this should always be a device group. An eSIM profile is only applicable to devices. Once the eSIM profile is assigned to a group of devices, Microsoft Intune randomly distributes the activation codes to members of the group. There isn’t any guarantee which device gets a specific activation code. Also, when a device has another assignments of different eSIM profile, the device will also add an eSIM profile of that assignment. That makes it possible to provision multiple eSIM profiles on a single device. Assigning the eSIM profile to a group of devices can be achieved by following the next three steps.

  1. Open the Microsoft Endpoint Manager admin center portal and navigate to Devices > eSIM cellular profiles to open the Devices | eSIM cellular profiles (Preview) page
  2. On the Devices | eSIM cellular profiles (Preview) page, and select the created cellular subscription followed by Assignments to open the {{CellularSubscriptionName}} | Assignments blade
  3. On the {{CellularSubscriptionName}} | Assignments blade, select the required device group and click Save to assign them

Note: Removing a device from the assignment, or deleting the eSIM cellular profile, will trigger Microsoft Intune to remove the eSIM profile from the device.

Assigning the cellular subscriptions by using the Graph API can be achieved by using the assignments object for a specific cellular subscriptions pool.

https://graph.microsoft.com/beta/deviceManagement/embeddedSIMActivationCodePools/{embeddedSIMActivationCodePoolId}/assignments

The eSIM profile experience

Let’s end this post by having a look at the experience for the end-user and the administrator. First the end-user experience. After the device checks-in, receives the eSIM profile and is successfully activated, the user receives the notification that a new eSIM profile is available (as shown in Figure 2). As mentioned in the notification, the user still needs to select the profile to use. To achieve that, the user can click in that notification on Settings > Manage eSIM profiles. That will bring the user to the place to manage the eSIM profiles (as shown in Figure 3). The user can select the applicable profile and click on Use. That will enable the user to actually use the eSIM profile.

The administrator experience is a little bit different from normal policy assignments. The best administrator experience is available by navigating to Devices > eSIM cellular profiles selecting a specific profile and selecting the Device status. That provides an overview as shown below (in Figure 4). The information of the different columns is explained below.

  • Device Name – The name of the assigned device
  • User – The name of the user whom enrolled device
  • ICCID – The unique code provided by the mobile network operator within the activation code installed on the device (this information is also part of the imported CSV-file)
  • Activation Status – The delivery and installation status of the activation code on the device by Microsoft Intune
  • Cellular status – The state provided by the mobile network operator
  • Last Check-In – Date the device last communicated with Intune

More information

For more information about configuring eSIM profiles on Windows devices, refer to this article about configuring eSIM cellular profiles in Intune (public preview).

2 thoughts on “Configuring eSIM profiles on Windows devices”

  1. is it possible to automate the profile selection “use” part so end users don’t need to click “use”?

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