IoT SIMs – everything you need to know.

Eoghan Patton
On: 29 Nov 2018
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In my experience, most people now know what IoT is and does, but fewer know how it does it. They appreciate the importance of the data it produces to the success of their business and are less concerned about the connectivity that delivers it. This can be a big mistake; here’s why.

With the wide variety of connectivity options available – fibre, copper cable, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular – there’s a good case for looking at connectivity a little deeper to be sure you’ve got the right solution for your business needs.

Cellular connectivity.

IoT is what makes a device “smart”. Cellular connectivity with an IoT SIM, i.e. using the same network as mobile phones, is what makes it even smarter. Whereas other connectivity options rely on the robustness of a physical connection or the availability of Wi-Fi within range, connecting with an IoT SIM means taking advantage of a dedicated, always live and secure network with comprehensive geographic coverage.

The differences between IoT SIMs and mobile SIMs.

Although the network is the same as the mobile phone network, and cellular IoT uses SIMs just as mobiles do, the SIMs are not the same. IoT SIMs are designed to roam, so that wherever they are, they always pick up the strongest signal regardless of network provider. This means they – and the devices they’re serving – always remain connected. A phone SIM will seek out its provider’s network, even if that offers a weaker signal and demands more battery power to access it. IoT SIMs ensure a constant connection and help prolong the device’s battery.

IoT SIM management.

Guaranteed connectivity is one great advantage of cellular IoT. Management of the SIMs themselves and the cost of the service, are two more. IoT SIMs can be managed via a portal, which gives the user a large amount of control. A well-designed, self-service portal allows users to see all the IoT SIMs in their fleet, which ones are activated and which dormant, and their individual attributes. The portal can also enable remote activation and deactivation, and the ability to set rules and to scale: from 10 SIMs to 10,000 to 100,000 or more, as required.

Billing can also be managed. Data plans are usually based on usage per month. However, to ensure cost-effectiveness and avoid bill-shock, the customer can establish a rule that will automatically switch IoT SIMs to a different plan if usage looks set to exceed their plan’s cap. Similarly, a pooled price plan allows flexibility of data usage across all IoT SIMs in a fleet, rather than allocating data per SIM. This is great if some SIMs use less in a month and others use more, the data allowance will be automatically shared accordingly.

Choosing a provider.

Many manufacturers embed SIMs in devices. These solderable SIMs, incorporated into the PCB board at the factory, reduce the chance of installation error and theft, and provide end-customers with a plug-and-play solution. The SIMs come with 100KB of data ready for customer testing, and billing does not begin until the SIM is activated and connected to the network in an operational state. This doesn’t lock-in the user to any one telecoms provider. Although, the SIM will initially operate under the mobile operator that supplied it, every IoT SIM incorporates an Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card, which makes it portable to other networks. Users can change to a new mobile operator at any time, for any reason, without changing the SIM.

Choose the right network provider and you should benefit from always-live connectivity via a dedicated, secure network with convenient self-service management options and flexible billing – a SIMbiotic relationship, you might say.