Choosing the Right IoT SIM Card
for Your Product

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:

1. Coverage

a. Countries

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

b. Networks

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

a. Time

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

b. Usage

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.

3. Hardware

a. Compatibility

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

b. Longevity

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.  

4. eUICC

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

SIM 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

Automotive Cases

Out of the 15 000 customers 1NCE serves today, over 13% are from the automotive sector. which are based in 39 countries. 

Healthcare Cases

250+ of our customers have set up their remote monitoring, clinic environment management, medication dispensing, healthcare asset tracking, and more solutions across over 35 countries. 

Industrial Automation Cases

12% of 1NCE customers run Industrial Automation use cases, such supply & cold chain monitoring, predictive maintenance, remote diagnostics, building automation, and more. 

Infrastructure Cases

Infrastructure holds a strong 17% share of 1NCE customers’ portfolio, optimizing global infrastructure monitoring with IoT.  

Smart Agriculture Cases

We currently assist more than 1,200 customers involved in pest control, crop monitoring, smart irrigation, bee colony analysis, and other scenarios, constituting 8% of 1NCE customer base. 

Smart City Cases

Smart Cities is one of them ajor  growth sectors in IoT, constituting over 1000 customers in 1NCE portfolio, including Street Lighting, Waste Management, Smart Parking, and other use cases. 

Transport & Logistics Cases

13% of all 1NCE consumers are active in transport and logistics, including asset tracking, equipment rental monitoring, commercial vehicle telemetry, cold chain monitoring, remote food & and beverage monitoring, and other solutions. 

Utilities Cases

1NCE's utility customers represent 21% of the whole base with projects spanning 37 countries, driving innovations in smart metering and sustainable energy solutions.

Waste Management Cases

Connect your IoT-based Waste Management solution with 1NCE. Use our free Waste Management Playbook to support your decision-making process.

Do you have further questions to IoT SIM Card?

Get in touch with us. We are happy to help.

1NCE Shop

Buy the 1NCE IoT Lifetime Flat now

Visit the 1NCE Shop and start connecting your IoT devices easily. Simply order your SIM cards, choose the desired type of SIM card and fill out all required forms. After the payment has been approved you get your cards within five to seven business days.