Mike van Bunnens, managing director, Comms365, explains what global service and global roaming SIMs means to the end user.
We’ve seen an exponential increase in providers offering “global” SIMs over the last 3 years. Has 4G come of age?
Cellular data pricing has been falling as demand has increased and providers have rolled out more infrastructure world-wide, but there is still a huge gap between the cheapest and most expensive countries for data.
As you would expect, it is cheaper, in the main, to buy data locally rather than use a roaming solution. Many providers have introduced multi-IMSI services that can dynamically change profile depending on the location in which they are used, but even this is not comparable to the cost of buying a local operator SIM in country.
However, when talking about IoT and M2M, buying data SIMs locally isn’t really an option if you are deploying services across a wide geography or your assets will be moving between countries (most local SIMs are single operator). For this type of solution, a roaming SIM is by far the best option and offers a huge amount of flexibility when planning and bringing live new sites.
The important questions to ask here is what is defined as IoT/M2M from a SIM perspective and what services are being rolled out? Many providers use the term IoT as a capture all, to include services such as Internet Access and Remote Working, which aren’t really IoT solutions.
IoT and M2M are typically defined as networks of physical objects that connect, transmit and receive data with other devices, sometimes over the Internet but not always. IoT is not really office connectivity or Internet backup. This is a really important point, when using the term global in your offerings.
IoT use cases that use very little data are less affected by latency which makes global roaming SIMs a game changer for them, whereas Internet Access and Voice are heavily reliant on low latency for a good User Experience.
Using a SIM in India for example, that backhauls to the UK or EU for its Internet access will have far higher latency than a SIM where data and Internet service originate and terminate in the country. Ultimately, the service will be impacted.
To counteract latency issues and offer more mainstream roaming Internet based services, many providers are building out local POPs, to reduce the transit time. They are then using the Multi-IMSI capability of their SIMs to determine the most appropriate breakout location for the services, but to do this properly, adds cost.
There is no doubt that multi-network roaming SIMs are opening up vast IoT opportunities across the world and having a flat rate across all geographies enables a simpler method of managing large estates of SIMs, but it will be low data ‘real IoT’ solutions that will benefit most from this.
A common mistake made is expecting the User Experience to be the same wherever the SIM is used in the world. This is even more apparent when utilising services such as Fixed IP addresses or VPNs. Distance will be the main factor here; the further away from the service POP, the slower the service will be.
Unfortunately, some global IoT projects fail due to a lack of understanding around how connectivity services are delivered, so when selecting your global SIM partner, there are some simple questions to ask. Firstly, where is the service delivered from? Where are the POPs that support the solution? If a VPN or Fixed IP is required, what will the impact on latency be in the required location? Do they have any solutions to enhance the service, like local breakout?
At Comms365 we have been offering partners advanced global cellular data services for over 12 years and during this time, we have gained extensive experience in SIM technology and data management. Our diverse international core network ensures the right service is deployed in the right geography and our in-house support team ensures that design, set up, configuration and management are all delivered to an exceptional standard.