As an Operations Director, I get a lot of questions regarding M2M SIMs and how they work. This post is a compilation of the top 10 questions we normally get asked about M2M SIM cards. This information will be handy if you are shopping for a SIM card for your application, or are a reseller looking to put together some material around M2M SIM cards to answer your customers’ questions.
1. Why do I see some cards with really low data amounts, for example 10MB? Why not just install a high street SIM card with 5GB of data for example?
M2M SIM cards are designed for a particular application and have a certain “tariff” associated with it, which reflects the specific price. For example if your application only needs 10MB of data per month, for example a sensor monitor, you can tailor the tariff to that exact amount. This allows you to get optimal pricing and ensure you are not paying for data you don’t need.
2. Is there anything different about the network?
M2M traffic generally uses what is called a “private APN”, which is configured on the device. The APN is a configuration context in the mobile network which gives different resources to the M2M traffic. This generally means that the bandwidth is not shared with consumer bandwidth, so there is no risk of congestion in peak periods, and service levels for that APN are higher than a standard consumer type SIM card.
3. What types of SIM card are there?
The standard types are available – nano, micro and standard (also called “mini”). There are also some specific types, such as heavy duty SIM cards, which are more robust, and solderable SIM cards which can be soldered directly onto a circuit board, for use in high stress environments.
4. Can I have static IP’s?
Yes, it is possible to have a static IP service with the right APN configuration, where the IP addresses can be assigned by the mobile network or by your systems. If you want to assign IP addresses yourself you would need a “RADIUS” server, which authenticates connection requests from SIM cards. By doing this, you can assign an individual username and password to each SIM or group of SIMs, and assign IPs accordingly.
5. What are “managed” SIM cards?
The SIM cards are referred to as “managed” because a portal is also provided with the SIM cards where you can activate, deactivate and check usage in real time. With normal consumer SIM cards it is not possible to do real time management – you would need to call the mobile provider and then wait a certain amount of time before the action took place.
6. Is there an API for management?
Yes, there is an API for management which replicates all features available in the portal interface. Instead of using the portal, you can use the API to build the management functionality of the SIM cards directly into your own portal. This makes it easier for your users and customers because they can use an interface they are already familiar with.
7. What are CDRs? Are they available?
CDRs refer to “Call Detail Records”. They are generally presented as a large file in CSV format with multiple fields related to each data session the SIM card made. For example, the date and time the session started, stopped, and the mobile network used. Similar files are also presented for voice and SMS usage.
8. How do the multiple mobile networks work on a single SIM card?
Pangea offers a single SIM card that can be considered as “always roaming”. This means the SIM card has no “home”. We are able to apply a set of rules onto that SIM card, which tell it what networks it can connect to around the world, and what services the SIM is allowed to use on those networks. For example, we can set a SIM to use voice and SMS only, or data only, or a combination of all three.
9. Isn’t data roaming expensive?
It doesn’t have to be. A consumer may think it’s expensive, especially if travelling outside Europe, but those prices are built based on consumer usage patterns and what the mobile networks think is a fair price for roaming! For M2M SIM cards it’s possible to build custom roaming deals, for example roaming in the UK and Italy only. Having a specific country roaming agreement in place will drive the price down because the costs are known – as opposed to setting a higher price for a consumer where the network has to predict where the consumer will be.
10. What is CSD and do you support it?
CSD stands for “Circuit Switched Data”. This is an older style of data communication which was commonly used before IP packets to transfer data over mobile networks. This is still in use today in a lot of legacy systems, such as building sensors, automated gates in driveways, pumps at service stations, and elevators, just to name a few. Pangea fully supports CSD, so if a customer is enquiring, feel free to talk to us about it!
If you would like more information on the above or have some more questions, please feel free to get in touch.