Global SIM strategies


Scaling IoT Globally:
A Guide to Global SIM Strategies & Solutions

by Ralph Heredia

Adopting a global SIM strategy that aligns with your IoT devices' needs and long-term business objectives is not just an advantage; it's necessary for scaling your IoT operations globally. Consider BrightSign, a leading manufacturer of digital signage media players with a global footprint. BrightSign faced significant challenges relying on customers’ corporate Wi-Fi–customers could not update content or troubleshoot connectivity errors remotely. The reliance on Wi-Fi presented unreliability, security risks, and inaccessibility in sensitive environments, such as medical facilities and corporate headquarters.

BrightSign partnered with Zipit Wireless to find a solution, leveraging our expertise in cellular connectivity and global SIMs. Equipping devices with a global SIM transformed how BrightSign's customers managed signage and subscription billing, enabling control from anywhere in the world through a single platform. This advancement resolved connectivity issues faced by BrightSign's customers and illustrated the impact of global SIM technology.

Without global SIMs, cellular relies on traditional SIMs, which are often tied to a single MNO and can lead to coverage gaps, inconsistent service, and the pitfalls of permanent roaming. In certain regions, permanent roaming leads to high, unexpected costs and violates network providers' terms of service, risking service termination. A global SIM solution can offer seamless, reliable connectivity without the restrictions and vulnerabilities of being tied to a single network or facing the legal and financial pitfalls of permanent roaming.

A variety of global SIM options are available—including global roaming SIMs, multi-IMSI SIMs, eSIMs, and multi-carrier SIMs—and your choice is critical. Each solution has strengths and potential drawbacks, and what works for one business may not suit another. In this guide, we delve deep into how to craft a global SIM strategy that meets your specific business and device requirements. We'll also explore the various global SIM technologies available, their benefits, and how to navigate the complexities of global connectivity with Zipit Wireless.

Chapter 1: Global SIMS Defined

What is an IoT Global SIM?

Broadly, an IoT global SIM provides constant, reliable, and cost-effective connections across different geographical locations, typically from multiple carriers. Global SIM solutions come in many forms, including global roaming SIMS, eSIMs, multi-IMSI SIMs, and SIMs from multiple carriers. Despite differences in operation and advantages, all these types of SIMs share a common goal: to facilitate seamless, reliable, and borderless connectivity for devices around the globe. 

Global SIM solutions are designed to overcome the limitations of traditional, single-network SIMs by providing the flexibility to connect to the best available network without the need for physical SIM swaps or the risk of incurring excessive roaming charges.

Furthermore, IoT global SIMs are designed with the unique requirements of IoT applications in mind, including low power consumption for devices that need to operate for extended periods on battery power and the ability to manage large fleets of devices through sophisticated connectivity management platforms. These platforms allow for remote management of SIM profiles, data usage monitoring, and controlling costs, all of which are crucial for the efficient and effective operation of IoT services globally.

Learn more: SIM Card Types and Sizes Explained

Chapter 2: Why Global SIMs

The significance of global SIMs for IoT

Limitations of traditional SIMs

Traditional SIM cards make global scalability for IoT devices inefficient and nearly impossible. Traditional IoT SIMs are restricted to a single network profile, meaning any change in network provider or update to accommodate new cellular technologies requires completely replacing the SIM card. For OEMs managing thousands or even millions of devices globally, this process is not only logistically challenging but also incurs substantial costs, from the physical replacement of SIM cards to the potential downtime of devices during the transition.

A single SIM profile, tied exclusively to one MNO, inherently limits an IoT device's ability to connect across various geographic locations. Devices may encounter significant coverage gaps in regions where the selected MNO lacks comprehensive coverage or network presence. This scenario is particularly problematic in remote or rural areas or when a device crosses into a region not serviced by the MNO, potentially causing connectivity interruptions at crucial times and impacting service reliability for the end user.

Additionally, traditional SIMs lack the adaptability to keep pace with changing cellular technologies. As networks evolve and new standards emerge, devices equipped with traditional SIMs can quickly become outdated, requiring yet another round of costly and resource-intensive SIM replacements to ensure compatibility with new network technologies. This cycle of continuous SIM replacement is not sustainable for OEMs aiming for long-term deployment and operational efficiency of their IoT solutions.

The challenges extend beyond just the technical and financial aspects. Managing multiple SIMs across different geographic locations introduces the complexity of handling numerous SKUs. Each SKU represents a different SIM variant tied to a specific network provider or region, adding layers of complexity to inventory management, distribution, and logistics. This translates into a significant management burden for OEMs, complicating the supply chain and inflating operational costs.

The limitations of traditional IoT SIMs escalate costs and constrain the agility and scalability necessary for mass IoT deployments. As the demand for more flexible and efficient connectivity solutions grows, overcoming these limitations becomes crucial for business growth.

Problems with permanent roaming 

Roaming maintains a device’s network connectivity when it moves outside the coverage area of its home network. Roaming ensures seamless operation across different geographical locations. However, when devices rely on a network in a foreign country for an extended period, this is known as permanent roaming, a practice fraught with complexities and challenges that can significantly impact the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of IoT deployments.

First, permanent roaming often comes with a 90-day limitation imposed by many network operators to restrict the duration a device can operate on a foreign network. Once this period is exceeded, the device might lose connectivity altogether or face severe service limitations. This can pose a significant risk for IoT operations that depend on continuous, uninterrupted service.

Devices operating in permanent roaming are at the mercy of the host network's performance, which can vary widely, leading to potential latency problems, poor device performance, and a bad end-user experience. Such issues are detrimental to applications requiring timely data transmission and high reliability.

The financial implications of permanent roaming, like unpredictable charges, are also significant. The cost of data transmission while roaming can be significantly higher and vary greatly depending on the network and region. For businesses that manage a large fleet of IoT devices transmitting substantial amounts of data across borders, these costs can escalate quickly, making them challenging to predict and control.

Roaming regulations add complexity since they can vary from country to country and are subject to change. These regulations may restrict the use of roaming services, including the duration of roaming and access to certain types of services. Compliance with these changing regulations requires ongoing monitoring and adaptability. Otherwise, non-compliance can result in penalties, service interruptions, or the need to renegotiate network agreements.

While roaming capabilities are essential for connecting IoT devices across different regions, the reliance on permanent roaming introduces a host of challenges. From technical limitations and service inconsistencies to financial unpredictability and regulatory hurdles, these issues emphasize the need for a global SIM solution.

Learn more: Global IoT Connectivity: Understanding the Fundamentals

Chapter 3: Global SIM Types

Types of global SIMs for IoT

1. Global Roaming SIM

A global SIM is one SIM card capable of roaming by leveraging roaming relationships of multiple carriers. This roaming capability is achieved through pre-established relationships with carriers worldwide, enabling the SIM to leverage the best available network in any region. 

Zipit’s global SIM, with a single AT&T profile, offers comprehensive coverage worldwide by connecting with AT&T in the United States and extending to over 160 countries. This makes permanent roaming possible without needing SIM swaps or the concern of devices getting kicked off the network by a carrier. 

The Zipit global SIM supports a range of cellular technologies, from Cat-M1 and NB-IoT to the latest 5G standards and various use cases, including IoT and fixed wireless applications. This flexibility ensures that devices can maintain optimal connectivity regardless of their specific requirements or operational environment. Zipit’s global SIM does not roam countries where costs are prohibitively high or where permanent roaming is not permitted, guaranteeing cost-effectiveness and compliance with local regulations. 

The Zipit approach enhances reliability and coverage globally by leveraging local networks through the SIM’s regional carrier partners. It offers a more cost-effective and reliable solution than relying solely on carrier roaming agreements. Our global SIM provides permanent, wide-ranging connectivity without the logistical and regulatory complexities of traditional global roaming solutions.

2. Multi-IMSI SIM

A multi-IMSI SIM is equipped with multiple profiles or IMSIs, each corresponding to a different network operator around the world. This capability allows the SIM to switch between these profiles automatically or manually, depending on the SIM's configuration. The SIM uses one IMSI to connect to the network for up to 90 days before switching to a different IMSI, so the device appears as a new subscriber. This strategy is employed to navigate around the 90-day limitation MNOs may place on roaming and guarantee uninterrupted service. 

Some multi-IMSI SIMs can house up to 12 profiles, each tailored for specific parts of the world, with many providers offering a management platform for selecting the most appropriate profile based on the device's geographic location and network conditions.

However, while multi-IMSI SIMs offer a solution for global connectivity, they are not without challenges. Switching between different IMSIs to maintain network connectivity introduces latency. It can complicate the device's ability to maintain a stable and reliable connection, potentially leading to data transmission and reception delays.


The eUICC (Embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card) SIM, commonly called an eSIM, allows users to remotely manage, switch between, or download new MNO profiles over-the-air (OTA). The SIM stores multiple MNO profiles that can be remotely provisioned so that devices can swap between network providers based on criteria such as coverage, cost, or service quality without manual intervention. Unlike multi-IMSI SIMs, whose profiles cannot be changed, eUICC SIMs can dynamically acquire new profiles as needed, enabling devices to transition seamlessly between networks without physical SIM changes. 

It's important to distinguish between the eUICC as a technical specification and the MFF2 form factor, also associated with the term eSIM. The MFF2 form factor refers to the physical embodiment of the eUICC specification, designed as a small, solderable chip embedded directly into a device during manufacturing. This embedded form factor offers enhanced durability and security, making it an ideal choice for IoT devices that operate in challenging environments or require extended lifecycle support.

The eUICC's secure, standardized framework for remote SIM provisioning and management offers a more robust defense against potential security threats. This is partly because the eUICC infrastructure is designed to securely transmit SIM profile information and authenticate both the device and the network during profile-switching. Additionally, the embedded nature of the MFF2 form factor contributes to the overall security of the device, as the SIM cannot be easily removed or tampered with.

4. SIMs from multiple carriers

A multi-carrier, "localized" SIM approach uses individual SIMs from multiple in-market carriers specific to certain regions or geographies. This strategy involves selecting the most suitable local carrier for each area of operation to capitalize on the strengths of local wireless networks. Choosing SIMs from multiple carriers ensures devices connect using carriers that are inherently part of the region's telecommunications infrastructure rather than relying on external carriers that roam on these networks. 

This localized approach is particularly advantageous for devices with high data consumption—ranging from 30 GB to 300 GB or more. By leveraging local carrier networks, these high-gig devices benefit from optimized network performance, including lower latency, higher speeds, and more reliable connections.

Using SIMs from local carriers can offer cost advantages over global roaming SIMs for high-gig devices. Roaming charges, often associated with global SIMs, can escalate quickly with increased data usage. Negotiating directly with local carriers can secure more favorable data rates and better tailor plans that suit devices with high data needs.

For instance, Zipit implemented this global SIM strategy for one customer with devices in the 300GB range using an AT&T SIM for operations in the US, a Vodafone SIM for Europe, and a Telefónica SIM for Latin America. This decision optimized the company’s device performance and connectivity costs for high-data-demand devices across multiple geographies.

The multi-carrier SIM strategy enhances network performance and reliability for devices with substantial data needs and provides a financially viable alternative to global roaming SIMs by tapping into the competitive advantages of local carrier networks in different countries.

Chapter 4: Global SIMs Compared

Advantages and disadvantages of different types of SIMs

Global roaming SIM


Operational simplicity

Operational simplicity with a global roaming SIM includes a single SIM in any device, regardless of the deployment location. This approach streamlines the manufacturing and provisioning processes. It also ensures devices are immediately ready for connection upon activation, circumventing the need for multiple SIM variants tailored to specific regions. 

The effectiveness of a global roaming SIM is contingent upon the scope and terms of the roaming agreements. For instance, a European reseller may offer a SIM and data plan from a European carrier for use in the USA. However, this SIM will not likely provide the same level of coverage or competitive pricing as a SIM from a local carrier like AT&T. Zipit’s AT&T roaming SIM would be the better choice in this instance because more regional carriers are included in AT&T’s roaming agreement than what the European carrier would be capable of offering.

Simplified management

With a global roaming SIM, you work with one company offering coverage worldwide, and you only need to manage one relationship. This reduces the logistical complexity associated with different carrier SIMs for devices split between diverse markets such as the US, Latin America, and Canada. 

Additionally, integrating a single SIM during the device manufacturing stage eliminates the hassle of managing multiple carrier relationships and SIM types, making global deployment smoother and more efficient.

Simplified billing

Choosing a global roaming SIM also offers a single contract and one comprehensive bill for worldwide coverage. This consolidation significantly eases the administrative burden, freeing you from the complexity of handling multiple invoices, each with its own set of billing terms and cycles from different carriers. Simplified billing streamlines administrative processes and facilitates more accurate financial planning and budget management for global connectivity expenses.

Learn more: Top IoT Billing Challenges and Solutions


Variable coverage

Coverage with global roaming SIMs largely depends on the specific carrier’s SIM you use. Many MVNOs or authorized resellers rely on roaming agreements with foreign carriers to service sought-after markets, which can lead to two significant issues–suboptimal coverage and the risk of line termination due to unapproved use on US carrier networks. 

As an MVNO with direct relationships with leading carriers such as AT&T and Verizon, Zipit mitigates potential coverage gaps effectively. With Zipit as your connectivity provider, you can access extensive networks through authorized carrier relationships for broader and more reliable coverage.

Hidden costs

The simplicity of opting for a global roaming SIM might come with hidden costs that escalate expenses for coverage in certain regions. Without a clear understanding of the standard costs for coverage from local, in-market carriers, you may end up overpaying. To prevent our customers from experiencing hidden costs, Zipit leverages direct relationships with major carriers to offer cost-effective solutions.

Coverage gaps and technology limitations

Despite the general expectation of comprehensive coverage with a global SIM, there may still be coverage gaps or limitations in the types of network technologies supported. This "one size fits all" approach does not guarantee uniform coverage everywhere, especially if the global SIM provider lacks direct, authorized resale relationships with carriers in all necessary regions. 

Additionally, some global SIMs may not support newer technologies such as NB-IoT or LTE-M, which are crucial for specific IoT applications. However, Zipit's extensive experience in delivering IoT connectivity solutions enables us to offer a range of global roaming SIM options designed to overcome these coverage and technology hurdles so you receive extensive coverage and technology support.



Addresses permanent roaming issues

In regions where regulations restrict permanent roaming, such as Brazil, which mandates a local profile from a carrier registered with the national tax authority or other federal agencies, multi-IMSI SIMs prove invaluable. For instance, Telefonica, a global carrier, owns the carrier Moviles in Brazil. However, Brazil does not let other carriers, including Telefonica, roam on its network permanently. Local regulations forbid permanent roaming by carriers from different countries, and Telefonica must comply. 

Multi-IMSI SIMs can be equipped with localized IMSIs, offering profiles that provide local or in-country service. This ensures compliance with regulatory requirements and maintains uninterrupted connectivity without physical SIM swaps.


Multi-IMSI SIMs offer flexibility and global coverage by housing multiple profiles that can be switched dynamically to match the best available network. This capability is helpful for IoT devices operating across diverse international regions, ensuring they remain connected even as they move across borders or when local regulations necessitate using a specific network. 


Limited carrier support

Not all carriers support multi-IMSI SIMs. This limitation stems from the requirement for these SIMs to have their multiple IMSIs registered and reserved in the carrier's backend systems. Since there's a possibility that some of these profiles may never be used, carriers are hesitant to waste these resources. 

None of the major carriers directly support Multi-IMSI SIMs in the United States. This absence of support means that devices equipped with Multi-IMSI SIMs do not have the right to roam on networks like AT&T or Verizon, significantly limiting coverage options and reliability for devices deployed within the US. The lack of direct roaming rights on these major networks can pose a substantial challenge for IoT deployments requiring consistent and comprehensive US coverage.

Resource inefficiency

Loading Multi-IMSI SIMs with various IMSI numbers, which are stored regardless of whether they are used, introduces resource inefficiency. This inefficiency is a significant drawback, particularly for carriers who aim to optimize their network and database management. The reservation of identifiers for potentially unused profiles can strain carrier systems and detract from the overall efficiency of the telecommunications infrastructure.

Uncertain international roaming

While a Multi-IMSI SIM may carry an IMSI for roaming on networks like AT&T and another for Verizon, permanent roaming is not guaranteed. This presents a risk for IoT devices that rely on constant connectivity across different regions. The inability to secure permanent roaming agreements through Multi-IMSI SIMs can lead to connectivity interruptions and the need for alternative arrangements to ensure service continuity.



Direct rate negotiation

The eUICC SIM provides a unique advantage in managing connectivity costs because it stores multiple carrier profiles and switches between them as needed. This functionality lets you negotiate and secure favorable rates from different carriers directly. 

Unlike traditional SIM cards, which lock a device to a single carrier, eUICC SIMs allow devices to be remotely provisioned with any stored profiles. This means you can compare rates across various carriers and select the most cost-effective option for their specific usage patterns and geographical requirements. If a more competitive rate becomes available or the device moves to a region where another carrier offers better coverage or pricing, you can remotely update the eUICC SIM to switch to the new carrier's profile. 

Flexibility in carrier selection

The eUICC allows you to choose the most suitable network providers based on coverage, performance, or cost in each operational region. Unlike traditional SIM cards that bind a device to a single carrier, eUICCs enable dynamic carrier selection, ensuring devices always have access to the best available network, enhancing the reliability and efficiency of global IoT deployments.

Remote provisioning

Remote provisioning of eUICC SIMs allows for the OTA updating of SIM profiles without physical access to the device. This feature is particularly beneficial for managing large fleets of IoT devices deployed in hard-to-reach or geographically dispersed locations. Remote provisioning simplifies the logistics of changing network providers or updating network settings so devices can remain operational with minimal downtime and without incurring significant maintenance costs.

Enhanced security

Security is a foundational element of eUICC technology, engineered with advanced security protocols to safeguard against potential threats. The architecture of eUICC SIMs incorporates encryption and secure authentication mechanisms that ensure only authorized provisioning and profile management. This level of security is critical in preventing unauthorized access and tampering, enabling secure and reliable connectivity management throughout the lifecycle of IoT devices.

Scalability and longevity

eUICC technology is designed with scalability and longevity in mind, accommodating the evolving needs of IoT deployments. As businesses grow and their connectivity requirements change, eUICCs enable them to adapt without replacing physical SIM cards, supporting a sustainable and scalable approach to device management. This future-proofing aspect ensures that IoT devices can continue operating effectively, even as network technologies evolve or businesses expand into new markets.


Time-consuming profile switching

One of the disadvantages of eUICC technology is that switching profiles and providers can be time-consuming. Remote provisioning allows for the OTA updating of SIM profiles. However, negotiating new agreements with carriers, setting up profiles, and ensuring seamless switching between them can require significant time and management effort. This complexity can be particularly challenging when deploying IoT devices that need to rapidly adapt to changing network conditions or when scaling operations across different regions.


The eSIM's embedded and permanent nature, while offering durability and security benefits, also means it cannot be easily swapped out like traditional SIM cards. This permanence can pose a disadvantage if a device needs to be physically transferred to a new network unsupported by the existing eUICC profile configuration. In such cases, the lack of ability to swap SIMs requires additional steps or device modifications to ensure connectivity, potentially leading to increased operational complexities and costs.

Minimum volume requirements 

While negotiating rates directly with carriers can lead to cost savings, it may also come with minimum volume requirements. Carriers often set these requirements to ensure the negotiated terms are economically viable. For smaller businesses or IoT deployments with lower device counts, meeting these minimum volume thresholds can be challenging, potentially limiting access to the cost benefits of direct rate negotiation. 

SIMs from multiple carriers 


Cost savings

SIMs from multiple carriers, particularly those with a local footprint in the deployment countries (on-net carriers), allow you to leverage the competitive rates offered by local carriers, which typically have lower costs than international roaming agreements. The direct relationships Zipit has established with leading carriers in key markets enable access to these cost savings, making it a financially wise choice for deploying IoT devices globally.

Enhanced regional coverage

In-market carriers for specific countries or regions where devices are deployed result in better coverage. This advantage stems from the local network buildout and the roaming agreements these on-net carriers have established, ensuring comprehensive and reliable connectivity for your devices. 

Zipit's direct relationships with leading carriers across the globe further enhance this benefit, providing customers with optimal coverage based on the extensive network infrastructure and agreements of these in-market providers. The result is superior service quality and network reliability for IoT devices tailored to the specific needs of each deployment region.

Cost-effective for targeted deployments

Using SIMs from in-market carriers for each region can be the most cost-effective solution for IoT applications requiring coverage only in particular markets. This approach avoids the unnecessary expenses associated with global roaming services, particularly for deployments that do not need wide geographical coverage. By selecting the most suitable local carrier for each targeted region, you can optimize your connectivity expenses to only pay for the coverage required at the most competitive local rates.


Operational complexity

Managing SIMs from different carriers introduces operational complexity, especially with multiple carrier connectivity management platforms. This scenario can quickly become an operational nightmare as you struggle to navigate disparate systems for each carrier's SIMs. The complexity multiplies with each additional carrier, making maintaining a cohesive and efficient management strategy challenging. 

However, you can mitigate this issue by using a single pane of glass platform for all carrier SIMs. Zipit’s connectivity management platform consolidates SIM management across multiple carriers into one unified interface, significantly simplifying operations.

Increased administration

The administration burden increases with SIMs from multiple carriers. You must juggle separate contracts for each carrier, deal with different billing cycles, and manage diverse data plans and support requirements for each SIM. This fragmentation complicates administrative tasks and increases the risk of oversight and errors, potentially leading to service interruptions or financial discrepancies. 

Zipit eliminates this burden by managing all carrier negotiations and relationships for you. With the Zipit platform, data plan and billing management are easy and efficient no matter how many devices and carriers you work with. 

Learn more: How to Cost-Effectively Manage Data Plans

Disparate siloed platforms

Each carrier’s platform comes with its unique set of requirements and operational procedures. Once a business has integrated with one carrier's platform and adapted its operations accordingly, the process must begin anew for each additional carrier. This repetition requires significant time and resources, making it an inefficient and often daunting task. 

The complexity of managing connectivity across multiple carriers often leads businesses to explore more efficient solutions to streamline their operations. Zipit addresses this challenge by offering a comprehensive platform that simplifies the management of SIMs from various carriers. This unified solution eliminates the cumbersome process of dealing with disparate systems, significantly reducing the operational overhead of managing global IoT deployments.

Collaborating with a partner like Zipit means gaining access to an ecosystem expertly designed to support the intricate aspects of SIM management and end-user activations. Zipit's platform facilitates a seamless self-service model, empowering customers with the tools for straightforward SIM activation and management

Partnering with Zipit also alleviates the need to handle the complexities of roaming agreements or navigate the intricacies of local tax regulations related to cellular services. Zipit manages all of these critical components on your behalf, providing a hassle-free experience and allowing you to focus on core operations without the added concern of connectivity management challenges.

Chapter 5: Choosing a Global SIM

How to choose a global SIM

When choosing a global SIM solution for your IoT application, especially one deployed across multiple countries under a single product SKU, you must consider several key factors to ensure seamless and efficient operation.

Consider countries

If your IoT application spans several countries, the convenience and uniformity of a single global roaming SIM can significantly simplify logistics and management. For instance, a fleet tracking device traversing the borders of the US, Canada, and Latin America benefits from a global SIM that eliminates the need for multiple regional SIMs. A global roaming plan is particularly advantageous for such applications, where devices maintain regular check-in patterns across borders, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity without the complexity of managing different SIMs for each country.

Remote provisioning is necessary for IoT devices deployed in remote or hard-to-reach areas. This allows for the OTA updating of SIM profiles and adapting to changes in network availability or device requirements without physical access to the device.

It's also crucial to verify that your SIM provider has robust roaming agreements for all the countries where your devices will operate. Without comprehensive roaming agreements, your devices may encounter connectivity issues or incur unexpected costs, undermining the efficiency and predictability of your IoT deployment. Before selecting a global SIM, you should assess the coverage provided, considering the geographical breadth and the quality of service. This ensures that your IoT devices remain connected and functional, regardless of location.

Consider data needs

For IoT applications with substantial data requirements, leveraging SIMs from multiple carriers may be the most effective approach. High data usage can lead to significant costs when relying on a single carrier's roaming agreements. Multiple carriers can offer more competitive rates within their regions, reducing overall expenses. Additionally, local carriers might provide better network performance and reliability for data-intensive applications, ensuring that your devices maintain high-quality connections essential for transmitting large volumes of data.

On the other hand, a single global roaming SIM may offer a more streamlined and cost-effective solution for IoT deployments with moderate to low data needs or those requiring simplicity and ease of management. A global SIM simplifies logistics by providing a single point of contact for connectivity issues, one contract, and one billing cycle, regardless of where the devices are deployed. This can significantly reduce administrative overhead and simplify the management of IoT devices. 

Additionally, a single global SIM can efficiently meet the connectivity needs of applications like asset tracking, environmental monitoring, or smart agriculture, where data transmission volumes are lower but require broad geographic coverage.

Consider technology 

It's essential to recognize that not every device is designed to support multiple SIMs. The ability to house and switch between different SIM cards depends on the device's internal design and functionality. This limitation can pose a significant challenge for IoT applications where devices must operate across various international networks. If your device does not support multiple SIMs, finding a universal solution that can cater to all your operational regions becomes even more essential.

The SIM card, while vital, is only one part of the equation. The compatibility of your device's cellular chipset and antennas with various network frequencies is another crucial factor. Devices can come equipped with a worldwide module that supports a broad range of frequencies used across different countries or a more limited module, such as one optimized for use only within the United States. Choosing between these modules affects your device's ability to connect to and operate on networks in different regions. 

The cellular technologies your product leverages may vary significantly from one country to another. Different regions may favor specific technologies not universally supported across all networks. If your IoT devices are designed for a particular technology, the chosen SIM solution must accommodate the necessary standards. Alternatively, you may need multiple SIMs to ensure seamless operation. This compatibility is essential for maintaining device connectivity and ensuring compliance with regional regulatory requirements that may dictate the use of specific technologies.

Single vs. multiple SKUs

Using one SIM requires only one SKU. This means fewer variants to track and manage, reducing stocking, forecasting, and replenishing inventory complexity. For businesses that operate on a global scale, this simplification reduces operational overhead by minimizing the logistical challenges associated with managing multiple versions of the same product tailored to different regions or carriers.

A single SKU also streamlines the deployment process. With one universal SIM configuration, devices can be deployed interchangeably across different regions without needing region-specific models. Also, consolidating to one SKU can lead to cost efficiencies in production and procurement. Manufacturing processes can be standardized, reducing complexity and potentially lowering production costs.

Finally, a single SKU ensures a consistent product offering, simplifying the customer experience. Users benefit from the uniformity of product features and capabilities, regardless of their geographic location. This consistency supports branding and marketing efforts, as it eliminates confusion around different product versions and ensures that all customers have access to the same high-quality experience.

Steered vs. non-steered SIMs

The choice between steered and non-steered SIMs impacts network connectivity and overall device performance. 

Steered SIMs are programmed to prioritize certain networks over others when roaming. The carrier typically sets a predefined order for network connection based on various factors, like cost considerations or contractual agreements with network operators. For example, a steered SIM might be able to connect to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon but is configured to attempt a connection with AT&T first, regardless of the signal strength or network quality at the device's location. 

While the steering approach can offer cost benefits or comply with specific carrier agreements, it may lead to suboptimal connectivity and poor device performance and reliability if the prioritized network is not the best available option in a particular area.

Non-steered SIMs, on the other hand, allow the device to autonomously select the best available network based on signal strength without any preset preferences. This approach ensures that devices can always connect to the strongest network, enhancing coverage and quality of connectivity. 

For instance, Zipit's global roaming SIM by AT&T operates on a non-steering basis, enabling devices to scan and connect to the most robust network signal without defaulting to a predetermined carrier. In markets like the US, where the SIM is designed to work primarily with AT&T, the device still assesses the network strength to ensure optimal connectivity.

Cost considerations with global IoT SIMs

One of the primary challenges with global SIMs is the cost disparity across different regions. For instance, data rates in the Middle East or African countries can be considerably higher than in the United States. This variation necessitates a strategic approach to using global SIMs, especially in contexts where IoT devices might roam into these more expensive regions. Without careful management and restrictions, the costs associated with global connectivity can escalate quickly, making some deployments financially unviable.

To mitigate these challenges, Zipit has developed global SIM solutions tailored to the specific markets that matter most to your business. You can achieve more predictable cost structures by collaborating with carriers to offer competitive rates across various countries. For example, we’ve negotiated with AT&T to provide a single rate for data usage across 160 countries. This arrangement ensures that the cost per MB is consistent, simplifying budget management and financial planning for international IoT deployments, regardless of the country.

Zipit global SIMs are designed to support a variety of cellular technologies worldwide. Additionally, measures are put in place to prevent devices from roaming in countries not covered by the negotiated plans, effectively blocking access to networks in regions where costs could become prohibitive. However, if your business requires connectivity in these restricted areas, we can work with you to make this possible.

Roaming agreements and their impact on global connectivity 

Roaming agreements established between carriers lay the groundwork for devices to seamlessly access networks beyond their home carrier's immediate service area. Understanding the significance of these carrier relationships and how they affect the operational capabilities of IoT devices is crucial for businesses looking to deploy globally.

The specific networks an IoT device can roam on are directly dictated by the SIM card used and the carrier agreements associated with that SIM. A robust network of carrier agreements ensures that devices can maintain connectivity by roaming partner networks and extending their operational reach beyond the limitations of a single carrier's footprint. This is especially important in regions where the home carrier may not have a strong presence, necessitating reliance on partners to provide service continuity.

Each carrier negotiates its roaming agreements, which define the terms, costs, and conditions under which devices can access networks in foreign countries. These agreements allow devices to seamlessly transition between networks, maintaining connectivity as they move across international boundaries. Without comprehensive roaming agreements, devices may face significant coverage gaps.

Managing multiple carrier relationships can be complex and resource-intensive for businesses deploying IoT solutions globally. Each carrier relationship requires negotiation, ongoing management, and compliance with different regulatory environments. 

This complexity is streamlined by partnering with a provider like Zipit. We consolidate these relationships into a single point of contact. Zipit's established network of carrier partnerships offers extensive global coverage and negotiated roaming agreements, simplifying the connectivity landscape for businesses. With Zipit, you can bypass the need to manage multiple carrier relationships individually.

Chapter 6: Global SIM Challenges

Challenges with IoT global SIMs and how to solve them

Challenge: Not all technologies are available in all countries

A significant hurdle in global IoT deployments is the varying availability of cellular technologies across different countries. While regions like the United States are at the forefront of deploying advanced technologies such as Cat-M1, NB-IoT, and 5G, many countries still predominantly operate on 2G and 3G networks. This discrepancy poses a challenge for IoT devices designed for newer technologies, limiting their functionality in regions that have yet to adopt these advancements. 

Additionally, certain countries impose restrictions on the use of specific technologies. For instance, China has restrictions on tracking devices. In contrast, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil have regulations that require entities to be registered locally before offering connectivity services on a permanent roaming basis. These technological and regulatory disparities complicate the seamless global deployment of IoT solutions.


It's crucial to partner with carriers that offer flexible connectivity options to navigate the challenge of technology availability. For example, while some carriers might offer distinct LTE and LPWA (Cat-M1 or NB-IoT) SIMs, this approach can limit devices shipped to countries without M1 service, potentially resulting in device failure. 

The solution lies in devices that support fallback to 2G or 3G networks when newer technologies aren’t available. Deploying a SIM that only supports a single technology with no fallback options restricts market expansion opportunities. 

Recognizing this, Zipit has proactively negotiated with our carrier partners to ensure that its Global SIMs can roam on any network in any country, accommodating as many technologies as possible. 

The Zipit global SIM is designed to be truly global, offering support for all available or authorized technologies across countries, thus providing a comprehensive solution that addresses the challenge of varying technology availability and regulatory restrictions. This approach ensures businesses can confidently deploy their IoT solutions worldwide, knowing their devices can connect reliably, regardless of the prevailing network technology.

Challenge: Restricted permanent roaming

Unlike mobile handsets that roam temporarily due to travel, IoT devices, such as hunting or street cameras and HVAC or irrigation controllers, are often deployed in fixed locations for extended periods. This permanent placement raises the risk of these devices being disconnected from the network after a certain period, as traditional roaming agreements typically do not account for indefinite connectivity in a foreign country. Securing permanent roaming rights is especially important in countries known for stringent regulations on roaming, such as Brazil, the U.A.E, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. 

Some suggest using eUICC technology to circumvent permanent roaming restrictions by switching between local and multiple roaming profiles every 90 days. However, this approach not only skirts regulatory boundaries but poses practical challenges, as it often requires time-consuming IMSI swaps and can lead to device reboots and connectivity issues, ultimately risking network or regulatory blockages.


Addressing the issue of restricted permanent roaming requires a strategic approach to carrier agreements. Recognizing the unique requirements of IoT deployments, Zipit has proactively worked to ensure that our carrier partnerships include permanent roaming rights in critical markets. By securing these rights, Zipit offers a robust framework for global IoT operations, mitigating the risk of future disruptions and ensuring devices maintain uninterrupted network access, regardless of their permanent location. 

Challenge: Carrier-restricted roaming

Carriers often have specific restrictions on the types of technologies or services allowed in certain countries or regions within those countries. For instance, while roaming services might be broadly available in India, specific areas could have limitations on certain services due to restrictions imposed on carriers operating within these territories. Such restrictions can impact the functionality and connectivity of IoT devices deployed in these regions, potentially hindering their operation and the reliability of data transmission.


Through established relationships with tier-one carriers, Zipit is uniquely positioned to provide valuable insights into the specific challenges and restrictions present in various territories. Our insights allow you to decide where and how to deploy IoT devices. By leveraging Zipit's knowledge and carrier relationships, you can navigate the complexities of carrier-restricted roaming more effectively, minimizing the risk of connectivity issues and maximizing the success of their global IoT strategies. 

Challenge: Lack of multi-carrier support for redundancy 

Similar to the United States, where coverage can vary significantly between carriers in different regions, international countries also exhibit disparities in network coverage. In such environments, relying on a single carrier could result in connectivity blind spots, where pockets of the country are left without adequate service. In this situation, you’d need multi-carrier support to provide the redundancy necessary for maximum coverage and reliable connectivity across diverse geographical landscapes.

While many SIM providers prioritize offering the lowest cost option for connectivity in specific markets, this approach can sometimes compromise coverage quality and reliability, particularly in large countries with multiple network providers. The cheapest option is not always the best, especially when the goal is to ensure consistent connectivity across as much of the deployment region as possible.


Zipit has developed a multi-carrier SIM solution for the broadest possible connectivity for IoT devices in international markets. By leveraging Zipit's multi-carrier SIM, you can sidestep limitations imposed by single-carrier dependencies so your devices remain connected and operational, regardless of local network variability. 

Challenge: Multiple carrier platforms to manage 

Ideally, operations should be as streamlined as possible, leveraging a single connectivity management platform and a unified API to oversee all aspects of device connectivity. However, the situation can quickly become unwieldy when deploying solutions that require support from multiple carriers—each with its own management platform and APIs. This multiplicity requires logging into different systems to monitor device status, manage connectivity issues, or update configurations, complicating what should be straightforward operational tasks and significantly increasing the administrative burden.


To address the challenge of managing multiple carrier platforms, Zipit offers a unified connectivity management platform with a single interface for managing connectivity and carrier relationships, regardless of the number of carriers involved in your global IoT deployment. With consistent reporting features and the ability to manage all carrier interactions from one place, the platform drastically simplifies the operational complexities associated with multi-carrier deployments. Zipit's streamlined platform allows your business to focus on core objectives rather than the intricacies of connectivity management.

Challenge: Forecasting and planning 

Forecasting and planning for IoT deployments involves anticipating and managing connectivity requirements across diverse geographical locations, each with unique network coverage, regulatory environments, and usage patterns. It demands a detailed understanding of local market conditions and the ability to predict device usage to ensure sufficient coverage without incurring excessive costs. 

Additionally, navigating the myriad of carrier agreements and managing the logistical aspects of SIM distribution and activation further complicates the planning process. These challenges can lead to inefficiencies, unexpected expenses, and potential disruptions in service if not adequately addressed.


Businesses leveraging Zipit's platform benefit from a simplified and centralized process, where all aspects of global connectivity—from carrier negotiations to SIM management—are handled in one place. With this approach, you can confidently deploy IoT solutions, knowing that coverage and regulatory compliance are managed efficiently across all operational regions. Zipit's platform also provides easy-to-use tools for tracking usage and managing devices, so your businesses can monitor their deployments in real time and adjust strategies as needed. 

How to manage global IoT SIMs

1. Use a single SIM management platform

A unified SIM management platform simplifies the operational complexities associated with managing multiple carriers and agreements by providing a central hub for all connectivity-related tasks. This approach streamlines carrier, connectivity, and SIM management, making maintaining a global overview of your IoT deployments easier.

Learn more: 10 Key Features of a Connectivity Management Platform

2. Monitor connectivity and device performance

Regularly analyzing connectivity data allows you to detect patterns or anomalies that could indicate potential problems or areas for improvement in your network configuration.

3. Track usage and data to manage costs

By tracking usage, you can identify opportunities to optimize data plans, avoid overages, and ensure you're getting the best value from your carrier agreements. Implementing alerts for unusual data consumption can also help prevent unexpected charges and provide insights into device behavior, aiding in more accurate forecasting and planning for future deployments.

4. Empower customers with control over activations and data

Provide your customers with access to a user-friendly portal that allows them to manage activations and monitor their data usage in real-time. This level of control enables customers to activate or deactivate SIMs as needed and adjust data plans based on usage.

Chapter 7: Choosing a SIM Provider

How to choose an global IoT SIM provider

What countries do you need to be in?

Assess the geographical scope of your IoT deployment. Determine which countries you need to operate in and ensure that the global SIM provider offers comprehensive coverage in those areas. Reliable connectivity across all intended locations is essential for seamless device performance and data transmission.

How much data do you need? 

Evaluate your data consumption needs, and look for a SIM provider that offers flexible data plans to accommodate your specific usage patterns, whether your devices require low volumes of data or demand high bandwidth for data-intensive applications.

Does the provider offer remote SIM management?

Consider the importance of managing your SIMs remotely, especially for deployments across multiple countries. A provider with a robust remote SIM management platform enables you to activate, suspend, or configure SIMs OTA. This feature is particularly valuable for efficiently managing large fleets of IoT devices and ensuring they remain connected and functional.

Reliable global connectivity with Zipit Wireless

Every IoT deployment has distinct requirements and challenges. Selecting SIMs from top carriers within those specific markets for solutions that demand extensive in-market coverage often represents the most effective strategy. On the other hand, for deployments aiming for a unified global presence under a single product SKU, opting for a global roaming SIM provided by one of the leading international carriers may be the most straightforward approach.

At Zipit, we're equipped to guide you through these critical decisions, ensuring your IoT solutions are deployed precisely and easily. Our established relationships with top-tier carriers globally position us to support your unique needs, regardless of the complexity of your deployment scenario.

Approaching global IoT deployments strategically 

By leveraging global SIMs with negotiated rates across multiple countries and employing a connectivity management platform, Zipit simplifies international connectivity. Our solutions are designed to reduce logistical hurdles and administrative overhead, allowing your business to focus on scaling IoT solutions without compromising coverage, cost, or technology compatibility.

Simplifying IoT connectivity with multi-carrier SIMs 

Navigating the complexity of using multiple SIMs can be daunting. However, Zipit alleviates these challenges through our connectivity management platform. Our platform simplifies the integration process with carrier SIM platforms, offering a unified agreement and a single, detailed monthly invoice that clarifies data plan usage across devices. 

This streamlined approach provides a hassle-free way to activate, deactivate, and manage devices, regardless of the carrier, enhancing operational efficiency. Additionally, our subscription billing capabilities empower your customers to easily manage their devices and subscription plans, adding an extra layer of convenience.

Managing multiple carrier relationships

We maintain an extensive network of carrier relationships so you receive comprehensive coverage in all major markets. We offer flexible data plans tailored to the diverse requirements of global IoT deployments supported by a connectivity management platform. The platform allows real-time visibility of active SIMs, carrier information, and data plan management, facilitating seamless transitions and adjustments. Our approach not only aids in monetizing data usage but also simplifies subscription management through our billing platform, allowing your business to maximize cost savings.

Enhancing the end-user experience

Zipit’s end-user portal gives users control over their data usage. This platform allows for the on-demand activation of devices, enabling users to select the most suitable data plan and effectively manage usage and billing. This level of autonomy and visibility boosts customer satisfaction and allows your business to monetize devices more efficiently

Whether you're looking for a versatile SIM that offers global roaming across an extensive network of carriers or aiming to secure the most reliable coverage in key markets, Zipit has you covered. Our solution simplifies connectivity management, offering you a single platform that puts you in control of your IoT connectivity. Our streamlined approach enhances operational efficiency and empowers you to manage deployments more effectively, ensuring success in the global IoT landscape.

Contact Zipit to learn how we can support your global business growth. 

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