Finding the Right IoT SIM Card
There are unlimited IoT use cases. To select the right IoT SIM card
for your IoT solution here is a handy check-list to guide you
through the multiple options.
Selecting the right mobile connectivity when building an IoT solution is crucial for the success of the connected product since the connectivity determines not just the user experience but also the feasibility of the solution.
When you build your IoT solution, there are limited technology options -- such as Wi-Fi, satellite, or cellular-based connectivity -- that truly allow for both consistent and seamless experiences at a global scale.
Today, more than two billion devices in the IoT use cellular technologies, such as 4G, LTE-M, NB-IoT, or still 2G and 3G. Selecting the right provider starts with identifying the best-fitting IoT SIM card for your IoT solution.
1NCE supports more than 12,000 customers with our services, but frankly, we know that our service isn’t always the best fit for all IoT solutions. That’s why we offer a handy checklist that allows you to sort through your options and become an IoT SIM card expert.
Based on 1NCE customer feedback, here are some of the top criteria used to find the right SIM card for your IoT solution, along with questions you should be asking:
Where can I use the IoT SIM Card?
This is always one of the first questions. And more specifically, do you support IoT coverage in the United States, Europe, China, Japan, etc.? Most IoT projects are rolled out in not one but many countries – and selecting the right global coverage for IoT is not to be underestimated.
Reliable coverage is critical for scalability and market outreach.
Information on IoT Coverage
Details on Roaming and Network Access
Which operators in a country can I use?
IoT is ubiquitous. Connected sensors are all over your community – in office buildings, stores, underground, under bridges, trees, basements, roadways, and the traffic light above. Access to more than one local operator in most countries should be mandatory for many IoT solutions.
As an IoT product manager, you want to ensure your sensor or device can always connect when operator A does not have coverage but operator B does.
c. Radio Standards
Does the SIM card support 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE-M, and NB-IoT?
Transmitting data from an IoT sensor to your cloud or data center requires a close look at which technology and radio standard to use. If you aim to send large data packages (up to 1 Gigabyte per month), you might want to use a radio bearer with high throughputs, such as 4G or 5G.
But as much as 75 percent of IoT projects can be categorized as low-data solutions. Low and medium data solutions usually send a few Megabytes, maybe even Kilobytes, per month. The IoT SIM card should support NB-IoT or LTE-M for these purposes but could also use 2G or 3G.
Overview of Radio Standards
2. Device Lifecycle and Usage Profile
How long do I plan to have the device in the field?
Many IoT products are long-lasting solutions. If you think of sensors that monitor lighting or heat, these devices are usually designed to be active in the field for up to 10 years. Managing these long device lifecycles results in complex and time-consuming contracts, and supplier management -- becomes an operational burden. If you do not carefully select and negotiate long-lasting terms, you might end up in a situation where your cost could double after three years.
The same goes for connectivity suppliers and IoT SIM cards. Sometimes it’s fine to secure a 24-month contract. In other cases, it’s imperative to have a contract term that covers the entire device's lifetime.
Licensed vs. Unlicensed Radio Technology
What is the right data plan for my IoT solution?
Knowing how much data your IoT solution will need isn’t always easy. Many operators and providers offer monthly data plans, so you need to estimate your monthly average data consumption in advance. On average, we see more than 70 percent of IoT applications using four to five Megabytes per month.
But IoT use cases aren’t always the same from month to month, and unplanned updates often cause unexpected peaks in data usage. It’s common to exceed those monthly data plan limits and face costly overage fees for each Megabyte of data used. Generally, the more precisely you can forecast your data consumption, the better you can narrow your connectivity's total costs of ownership (TCO).
Also, remember that the lower the data consumption, the higher the cost for the connectivity's IT management and platform maintenance.
Does the IoT SIM card work with my hardware?
Connectivity is the glue that connects the hardware and the software worlds. To build a data stream from sensors, gateways, modules, and chips into the cloud, it’s essential first to check the compatibility of the IoT hardware. The IoT SIM card requires a close look at the modem or IoT module. Every modem or IoT module’s compatibility with a network varies with operators from country to country.
In the U.S., operators only allow certified hardware to be used on their networks, while most European operators don’t have such a strict policy. Generally, the network operators provide lists of compatible modems and IoT modules, so make sure to confirm your hardware works with your network.
Information on IoT Hardware by cellular standard
Comparison of LTE-M, NB-IoT, LoRa and SigFox
What technology and service providers should I trust and use?
Running long-lasting IoT applications requires finding a technology setup that lasts the device's lifetime but also has the reliability and supportive partners to ensure continuous quality of service. As for the IoT SIM card, you should look for a technology and service provider that won’t need to be replaced anytime soon.
For example, when it comes to the choice between LoRa, SigFox, NB-IoT, or LTE-, it’s not just a question of the technical requirements but also how long the provider will provide each.
Is eUICC set to become a relevant technology in the IoT market?
In IoT scopes change, and data insights evolve, and there’s still a need for cost-efficiency, flexibility, global rollouts, and sustainability. The ability to swap profiles that are stored on eUICC-capable cards and switch from one operator to another must become a fundamental right for IoT projects owners. These swaps, without the necessity of physical presence and card substitution in turn positively influences logistics, plastic SIM, and truck rolls.
All You Need to Know about eUICC for IoT
5. Other Trends In SIM Tech
Comparison of SIM Type Specifications
What SIM specs should I consider and why?
Most IoT SIM cards allow automatic switching between radio standards. The multimode feature guarantees that the best available bearer can be used for data transmission.
Also, you should check the IoT SIM card’s degree of resilience to ensure it fits your use case. More than 50 percent of IoT applications use typical industrial-grade IoT SIM cards that are robust, heat resistant, and guarantee long-lasting service. If you know your sensor or device will be exposed to extreme environmental conditions, an industrial-grade SIM card might be the best fit.
Relevant IoT SIM Card Use Cases
Smart Metering Cases
We help smart metering providers reach the next level of efficiency by delivering easy-to-manage IoT connectivity for customers like Xemex, Plum, and Lobaro.
Asset Tracking Logistics Cases
Healthcare & Medical IoT Connectivity Cases
In the highly sensitive field of sports and medicine, we provide a reliable IoT connection for products such as Microdefender, Pissure Pocket, and Sportstation 2.
Smart City Cases
From smart street lighting to smart parking solutions - we offer our customers, such as Flashnet, the right IoT connection for every case of smart city use.