The term Machine-to-Machine (M2M) describes the foremost automatized communication between end devices like heavy construction equipment, vending machines, cars or container. Quite commonly the communication can be carried out directly between the devices and the data center or via local control centers like gateways or servers. Either wired-based or wireless communication technologies can be applied for the data transmission. Especially the utilization of cellular radio allowed to design M2M application not just for large objects like machines anymore but also for small things like sensors, meters or waste bins. Cellular radio network technology was an enabler to remotely connect machines and things with M2M SIM cards cost efficiently.
Thanks to improved information and communications technologies like cloud computing or Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) even the tiny objects and things of very low value can now be integrated into digital back-ends cheaper and easier. Things that were previously impossible to connect could now become smart. The Internet of Things, or the Internet of Everything, changed the way, how we could imagine connecting the world. The technology improvements now allowed for solutions like smart street lighting, connected HVAC or smoke detectors but also the integration of even heat allocators, bicycles or pets into digital ecosystems. This is mostly seen as the key difference between M2M and IoT: M2M is a subset of IoT.
“M2M is an integral part of the Internet of Things and describes the use of applications that are enabled by the communication between two or more machines.”
GSMA Intelligence, Cellular M2M forecasts and assumptions: 2010-2020
Even though the technological developments allowed for more and more detailed interconnections of things, the basic system design of M2M and IoT remained the same. In order to smarten up the machines and things around us, the prerequisites are still a feasible connectivity solution and a viable hardware for data transmission. Taken this into account M2M and IoT can be seen for one and the same. However, most commonly the more established and mature solutions like telematics are attributed to M2M very often, whereas use cases with smaller objects are seen as IoT related applications. Among experts the term M2M is rather seen as a subset of IoT and has been replaced by the term IoT more or less more completely.
So, there is necessarily not a difference between a M2M Sim card and a IoT SIM card. The SIM card simply acts as the key for getting access to cellular mobile networks. Apart from assigning a specific SIM card for M2M or IoT applications are the specific data plan requirements of the use case of course. The boundaries in terms of cost and maintenance are way different when connecting small and tiny things of low value. It gets even complicated when it comes to manage a tariff for thousands of devices, which are supposed to run self-sufficiently in the field. Management efforts and costs for setup, provisioning and maintenance need to be in line with the business case and of course the value of the device itself. The total cost of ownership includes the fees for the data transmission as well. A standard data plan or tariff scheme with monthly bills and automated renewals does not make sense for M2M and IoT applications at all.
The 1NCE IoT Flat Rate is the first rate scheme for cellular connectivity that has been developed solely for M2M and IoT solutions. The Flat Rate includes a worry-free package including M2M SIM card, data plan, SMS volume as well as unlimited access to all platform services. Furthermore, every SIM Card can roam in more than 100 countries worldwide while supporting all radio standards such as 2G, 3G, 4G but also NB-IoT and LTE-M seamlessly.