The need for reliable and cost-effective IoT SIM cards is growing, and following the upward trend and growth projections for the wider IoT solutions market.
‘SIM cards for the Internet of Things (IoT)’ is a title that probably means more than we think – both in terms of what it represents now, and what it may represent in the future. IoT has been allowing us to connect devices and augmenting aspects of our daily lives ever since it was first introduced – linking billions of devices, machines, systems, and people – and sharing valuable data between them. The need for reliable and cost-effective IoT SIM cards is growing, and following the upward trend and growth projections for the wider IoT solutions market.
When we compare IoT SIM cards with their more traditional counterparts (like you would find in your cell phone), the results really hammer home the fact that IoT SIMs are much more reliable, secure, and fit for use in an industrial or business IoT scenario than SIM cards from traditional cell service providers. According to recently published articles, IoT devices are being used by almost 94% of enterprises worldwide. With a wide range of possible applications, IoT SIM cards are expected to be an integral part of the internet and networking community.
The best way to understand the difference and advantages of an IoT SIM card is to compare it to the widely known and commonly used ‘regular’ SIM card. So listed below, you’ll find the main points of comparison between IoT SIMs and regular SIM cards:
IoT SIM cards are designed to connect devices without the need for a human presence, whilst meeting the very specific and very complex needs of a modern-day enterprise’s smart devices. The provision of a reliable internet connection that keeps the devices ‘always online’ and ready for data sharing is one of an IoT SIM card’s notable advantages over a standard SIM, and this is made possible through the ability to switch between multiple cellular networks. If you’re looking for the best network coverage and uninterrupted connectivity, multi-network IoT SIMs offer flexibility as they can be configured to switch between networks depending on thresholds and variables set by the business across global locations. In most cases this key functionality rules out the need to purchase multiple SIM cards that are suitable for specific regions, or the threat of roaming charges.
Enterprises can really benefit from the adaptable security settings IoT SIM cards offer. Whether it’s having a central platform to manage all IoT SIMs used within a given IoT solution, a single, pooled data plan enabling variable data usage by different SIMs to be budgeted for easily, end-to-end encryption, the freedom to change security and privacy preferences (all the way down to the individual device level, including when credentials need challenging and verification), or even managing access to secure global networks among multiple carriers – it all makes IoT SIM cards a more secure option for businesses that want to send and receive data through smart devices. The IoT SIM administrator or manager is also able to restrict certain SIMs from accessing unauthorized sites and apps, and even completely suspend a SIM card remotely if needed. Having the ability to add certain security layers can also give project owners peace of mind, and better control over all connected devices.
It’s one thing to connect devices locally, but to connect devices across multiple geographic locations (including across international borders or in remote areas) takes connectivity to a whole new level. Connecting IoT devices using robust multi-network coverage is a task that can only be handled by IoT SIM cards, because it’s only possible when a SIM card is able to connect to multiple carriers worldwide. The IoT SIM card makes IoT projects achievable and more cost effective for global operations. Another key feature of the IoT SIM card is the user’s ability to manage and control their IoT SIMs remotely and perform actions in bulk. Delivered via a centralized management dashboard or hub, this functionality allows users to see which of their IoT devices are connected at any one time and where they are located, to ping them for new updates as needed, and to turn connectivity on or off in specific situations. All of this means that there will be very little need for projects to have someone on-site in remote areas, in turn cutting down costs for the business.
Centralized management platforms for IoT SIM cards make managing data usage and transparency of costs across connected devices easier. Comparing this aspect with regular SIMs, an IoT SIM user can easily reallocate their data budget across their whole fleet of SIMs as and when they need to – as opposed to paying a standard rate for each SIM’s data usage whether they use all of their allowance or not. This means that you aren’t forced to pay over the odds for SIMs that don’t use all their data allocation, or pay extra fees for SIMs and IoT devices that go over their data allowance, depending on the data plan.
As enterprises move towards automation and the use of more smart technologies within their business, they become more reliant on internet connectivity and the ability to send and receive information to ensure the success of operational processes. One of the biggest challenges businesses face is the potential disruption of critical business processes when their internet connection fails, and they become unable to perform this ‘send and receive’ process. Adding a cellular IoT failover option allows systems to stay connected even when the primary method of connection (e.g. WiFi) goes down, but only enables the use of data through IoT SIM cards in such emergency situations. Cellular IoT devices using IoT SIM cards are designed to handle cellular IoT failovers while hardwire-based internet infrastructures are highly susceptible to natural disasters, especially in rural areas. The ability to handle unforeseen situations like a connection outage is part of what makes IoT SIMs dependable, and the smart choice for business.
IoT devices are revolutionizing our day-to-day interactions and the way we gather and transmit data. IoT has allowed enterprises to empower field operatives and global teams, giving them the ability to send and receive real-time data and critical information from remote locations. IoT SIM cards allow businesses to customize device access (including for smartphones and wearables), giving the business the flexibility to change settings and meet their needs – along with control over what data is sent, received, and consumed over a period of time. Businesses are now able to monitor indoor and outdoor devices with ease, and in addition address the challenges surrounding mobile or roaming applications.
IoT has reshaped industrialization from its traditional ‘working hard’ state, to an evolving existence of ‘working smart and working efficiently’. When referring to IoT industrialization, because there are a wide range of possible applications that themselves are only focused on industrial use, ‘industrial IoT’ (or ‘IIoT’) is often considered a separate field of study, with it’s own dedicated research areas for global development. IoT SIM cards have enabled us to create better communication channels for workers, machines, supply chain operatives, and senior leaders who work within industrial sectors. With industrial IoT, innovation, machinery and internet connectivity often go hand in hand, as new automated processes improve the quality of work being produced and reduce the cost of labor. If problems arise, emergency measures can also be put in place quicker, and the problems can be picked up quicker too. And through it all, a myriad of reports can be transmitted – irrespective of distance and travel time – to the people that need them. IoT SIM cards have been a great help in the innovations that have shaped both the modern industrial landscape, and the future of industrial IoT.
With our increased demand for finding easier ways to do everyday things, people have welcomed many smart devices into their homes to assist with and automate many of our routine domestic tasks. Many subscription-based home monitoring services such as security, fire, and access alarms are connected to the provider’s database using IoT SIM cards installed in the devices. Using SIM cards designed specifically for IoT use allows providers to access their devices remotely for tech support and maintenance, and multi-network SIM cards can keep these devices connected even if IoT connectivity or network coverage fails on site.
Another successful use case for IoT SIM card deployments within domestic and business settings involves the energy sector, and the installation of smart meters. With these meters consumers are made more aware of their own energy consumption – giving them the chance to save money and energy where they can – and they also reduce the need for on site visits by the energy supplier to obtain accurate meter readings. The use of smart meters in businesses and homes has provided both suppliers and consumers transparency in the use of energy, and better billing practices.
Building alarms and GPS tracking have been in use for a very long time, even before they were introduced for wider consumer use. These technologies are now very commonplace in domestic and business settings, and are often embedded in emerging technologies in some form of cross-industry application.
Key institutions and establishments like schools, hospitals, workplaces, and retail shops are often equipped with alarm systems that can immediately contact authorities (police department, fire department, etc.) if the need arises. IoT devices and IoT SIM cards can play a major role in security and logistics projects of any size.
Farms are no longer dependent solely on manpower and hours of strenuous labor to achieve their objectives. IoT connectivity has empowered the farming industry – and as network coverage expands, their ability to send and receive data between IoT devices and share it with others will only mean that more and more people have access to data insights and information that could only previously be gathered through experience.
Livestock tracking and communication have become a convenient method for keeping animal activity levels, food intake, general health, and whereabouts in check – and all of that is powered by IoT devices using IoT connectivity to send and receive the relevant data relating to each animal – just as described above. The IoT devices used for livestock monitoring of course use IoT SIM cards to keep farmers up to date with their animals’ data, and other important pieces of information that need to be passed on to keepers or livestock veterinarians.
On the other side of the agriculture industry, farmers growing crops are helped by technologies such as soil monitoring – fertilizer toxicity can easily be assessed using sensors connected to smart devices. Even geographically-remote farms and land are being brought ‘closer’ to cities thanks to the presence of uninterrupted and fast network coverage to provide IoT connectivity, and the use of IoT SIM cards in farming-focused devices to collect and transmit information back to a central hub.
What benefits can the many plus-points of IoT connectivity bring to businesses and logistics teams – no matter if they’re operating locally or on a global scale? Well, the answer to that question can be seen in what is one of the biggest markets for IoT solutions and IoT SIMs – the transportation and logistics industry.
Transportation and logistics businesses depend on having reliable and fast communications at every step of their processes. Such companies need the ability to send and receive data such as schedule amendments, route changes, vehicle status reports and more without delay – and having the ability to do this adds transparency for stakeholders and end-users. Along with their own complex communications systems, transportation companies and logistics businesses also have a constant need for tracking and monitoring – something which puts IoT SIM cards and IoT connectivity at the forefront of their support systems.
Remote patient monitoring has been making waves in the healthcare industry since before the 2020 pandemic. With both global and local restrictions placed upon the movement of people and limited face-to-face appointments the demand for – and application of – remote healthcare monitoring has increased dramatically.
Most remote health monitoring setups were initially developed to care for patients with chronic diseases – like diabetes, COPD, or serious heart conditions – providing a safe and convenient way to monitor patients’ conditions. Today, technologies such as IoT devices and IoT connectivity are enabling telemedicine, and changing the way patient monitoring and support is being delivered around the globe – all with a cellular IoT failover waiting in the background to keep those vital devices connected and able to send and receive data should on-site network coverage fail.
Keeping everyone involved in the care of a patient in touch with one another is essential for the various doctors and other medical staff to work together effectively and keep a patient’s condition stable.
Depending on how a given health institution sets up their solutions, doctors, nurses and the emergency services can send and receive crucial information like vital signs, prior medical history – as well as X-ray imaging or blood test results – so that they can quickly come up with a diagnosis and a plan of action.
Just like any other modern device that is used for connectivity, IoT SIM card designs are always being refined and worked on to make them more adaptable to new advancements in technology and new application opportunities. Some updates are tangible and physical, relating to the way devices are shaped and sized. Here is a summary of the various different sizes of IoT SIM cards – usually referred to as ‘form factors’ which have been commonly used up to the present day:
One of the most influential SIM card designs was the Mini-SIM (or ‘2FF’) which was often used for vehicle tracking by specialized sensors. This IoT SIM card measures 25mm x 15mm, and comes attached to a full-sized (or ‘1FF’) card that can be cut down into a mini version. Nowadays devices are designed to accommodate mini SIMs and these SIMs are also often referred to by suppliers as a ‘standard’ or ‘regular’ SIM.
The next generation of IoT SIMs was the ‘Micro-SIM’ (or ‘3FF’) version. Its predecessor was almost double the size of this one, as the Micro SIM form factor measures around 15mm x 12mm x 0.76mm in size. Common applications for Micro SIMs include usage in tablets, and in health monitors requiring instant connections and reporting. The Micro SIM form factor first saw widespread use in the original Apple iPad, but later on, smartphones adopted this new card as well – with the iPhone 4 the first one to use a Micro (3FF) SIM card.
The next SIM form factor was even slimmer than the Mini and Micro SIM cards. The Nano SIM card (or ‘4FF’) measures 12.3mm x 8.8mm x 0.67mm in size – so modern wearable and portable devices can easily accommodate a compact IoT SIM card such as the Nano SIM. This SIM card is designed with a rim around the contact area to avoid possible short-circuiting. With smart devices getting smaller in size, a Nano SIM means there’s no need to worry about connectivity or the danger of losing a device.
The next step in IoT SIM development is smart devices with embedded SIMs (or ‘eSIMs’). This is by far the smallest of all the form factors and SIM cards seen thus far, measuring just 6mm x 5mm. An eSIM is an integrated part of the device in which it resides, and is not a removable part as we’ve seen with the SIM types and form factors mentioned above. This makes an eSIM a tough and resilient alternative to removable SIM form factors, and means there are no concerns about wear or damage to the SIM’s connecting points.
With the explosion in the deployment of enterprise IoT applications, the need for Private LTE networks which enable an enterprise to own and manage their IoT connectivity have really come to the fore. Recent spectrum auctions have enabled enterprises to build their own campus networks to connect IoT devices, for example in smart factories or warehouses. The use of IoT SIM cards to extend IoT connectivity beyond the campus onto a Wide Area Network (WAN) is a key aspect of such deployments, since some devices (e.g. tracking devices monitoring deliveries) need to roam on and off the private network onto the wider public network. The ability to use multiple profiles on eSIMs enables enterprises to connect devices either to a local private network or to a public global network using two different SIM profiles placed on the same physical IoT SIM card. This capability gives enterprises the flexibility to control and manage their IoT connectivity globally via one centralized platform.
With the proliferation of technologies like cellular IoT and 4G LTE, today there are fewer and fewer truly ‘remote’ places in our world, and it’s easier for companies to prioritize safety and security above all else. The world is progressing at a fast pace and enterprises must make use of new technologies to compete. . IoT SIM cards, IoT devices, and IoT connectivity – provided by means such as cellular network coverage – are just some of the things that help them keep pace.
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