IoT devices, with their varying data consumption rates and unique network requirements (like LTE-M or NB-IoT) require specialized IoT SIM cards and optimized data plans, instead of the typical consumer SIMs you might find in smartphones. Depending on your IoT application, and where devices will be deployed, it may be necessary to familiarize yourself with wireless roaming agreements and how that can impact which IoT SIMs you procure from your connectivity provider.
In addition, you will likely need to determine if it makes more sense to utilize a global roaming IoT SIM, or multiple SIMs from different in-market carriers. In this article, we’ll dive into each option and how each can make an impact on cost, coverage, and ongoing management.
A global IoT SIM is a single SIM that roams across multiple carriers around the world. It does this by leveraging the carrier’s established roaming relationships. For this reason, global IoT SIMs are also sometimes called “roaming SIMs.” Importantly, even though these SIMs are characterized as “global,” this does not necessarily mean they will provide seamless coverage (or every carrier) anywhere around the world. This is a crucial distinction to keep in mind as you explore connectivity options for your IoT devices.
A multi-carrier, "localized" SIM approach is when you use individual SIMs from multiple in-market carriers for a given region or geography. So, for example, you may decide to use an AT&T SIM in the US, a Vodaphone SIM in Europe, and a Telefonica SIM in Latin America. This approach can also be called localization, as you are leveraging the wireless carrier networks that are local to that region or country rather than from a carrier somewhere else that comes in to roam on those local networks.
To decide between a global IoT SIM or multiple IoT SIMs from in-market carriers, it’s helpful to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. Here are some of the considerations to weigh when choosing which to use for your business.
When it comes to global IoT SIMs, there are two primary benefits:
The primary disadvantages of using global SIMs include these sometimes “hidden” factors:
Even some global SIMs out there have limitations around the type of network, for instance, some roaming SIMs do not support technologies like NB-IoT or LTE-M. However, thanks to our extensive experience in delivering IoT connectivity to OEMs around the world, Zipit is able to offer several global roaming SIM options to our customers to help overcome these coverage hurdles.
If your IoT application is to be deployed in multiple countries, and under a single product SKU, then maybe a global IoT SIM makes sense. A good example of this would be a fleet tracking device that will regularly cross the borders between the US, Canada, and Latin America. A “global” plan would likely make sense here – assuming normal device check-in patterns for a fleet tracking type of IoT application.
Keep in mind that there may be carrier limitations as to (1) the amount of time a device is roaming in a given territory, or (2) The amount of data that a device can consume while in that territory, or both.
Do you need help figuring out what roaming options might be appropriate for your IoT application? We’ve got you covered.
When it comes to using SIMs from multiple, in-market carriers, there are some advantages and disadvantages as well.
On the plus side, using multiple carrier SIMs can give you:
Of course, there are some disadvantages of using SIMs from multiple carriers:
A multiple-SIM industrial router solution, that can take advantage of several networks for redundancy. This can be especially helpful for mission-critical IoT applications like healthcare or emergency services, where a vehicle can travel between coverage zones on a regular — even daily, basis.
Although using multiple SIMs can bring complexity to your IoT solution, Zipit helps mitigate many of the challenges through our connectivity management platform:
Now that you better understand the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of global IoT SIMs vs. IoT SIMs from multiple carriers, you can use this knowledge to decide which will work best for your business.
Whether you want to go down the path of a global roaming SIM or leverage SIMs from multiple carriers, Zipit can help, thanks to our extensive relationships and powerful platform that can help you fully operationalize your connectivity.
Want to know more about Zipit’s platform for managing SIMs and subscription billing?? Contact us to schedule a demo.
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