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The first UICC smart cards were the size of credit and bank cards; sizes were reduced several times over the years, usually keeping electrical contacts the same, so that a larger card could be cut down to a smaller size.
A SIM card contains its unique serial number (ICCID), international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number, security authentication and ciphering information, temporary information related to the local network, a list of the services the user has access to, and two passwords: a personal identification number (PIN) for ordinary use, and a personal unblocking code (PUK) for PIN unlocking.
The first SIM card was developed in 1991 by Munich smart-card maker Giesecke & Devrient, who sold the first 300 SIM cards to the Finnish wireless network operator Radiolinja.
Today, SIM cards are ubiquitous, allowing over 7 billion devices to connect to cellular networks around the world.
The SIM circuit is part of the function of a universal integrated circuit card (UICC) physical smart card, which is usually made of PVC with embedded contacts and semiconductors.
SIM cards store network-specific information used to authenticate and identify subscribers on the network.
To confuse matters more, SIM factories seem to have varying ways of delivering electronic copies of SIM personalization datasets.
Some datasets are without the ICCID checksum digit, others are with the digit.
SIM toolkit applications were initially written in native code using proprietary APIs.
To provide interoperability of the applications, ETSI chose Java Card..
Modern SIM cards allow applications to load when the SIM is in use by the subscriber.