SIM Considerations for Telematics, IoT, M2M and Tracking Devices.
Having selected your telematics, tracking, IoT (internet-of-things) or M2M (machine-to-machine) cellular device you now need to look at the considerations in terms of the SIM.
This can be as simple as a trip to the local supermarket and pick up a PAYG (pay-as-you-go) SIM off the shelf or a bespoke package SIM provided by the network directly or one of the many, specialist IoT or M2M MVNO’s (mobile virtual network operator) tailored to your needs.
Here we have a high-level overview of the choices and options that need consideration.
SIMs come in a variety of physical sizes, having slowly reduced in footprint over the years.
- 1FF or Standard, credit card sized and no longer used
- 2FF or Mini (now considered Standard)
- 3FF or Micro
- 4FF of Nano
Most telematics devices use the mini (2FF) SIM type but always refer to the device provider and/or the manual supplied to confirm.
2G, 3G or 4G?
Firstly, depends on the device selected, most telematics devices in Europe are 2G (GPRS) but there are 3G (HSPA) and 4G (LTE) devices and options available.
Secondly, use location, with some regions having already switched off 2G (e.g. Australia and some networks in the USA) then it makes sense to ensure that a suitable cellular protocol is selected.
Thirdly, what data the telematics is going to send, if just basic track-and-trace information then 2G is perfectly suited as small amounts of data. However, if peripherals such as cameras are to be attached and transmit, then it makes sense to move to a more suitable transport speed.
Oh, and there’s also cost of course…….the more data and additional services, the more expensive.
Cost and services
Based on the device and application needs, the requirement from the network in terms of data, SMS and voice needs to be considered.
Most M2M tariffs can be built to provide the appropriate amount of data, a fixed number of SMS and (in some cases) voice support.
When in discussion with your SIM provider ensure that you have a good understanding on the system demands in terms of usage, remember anything outside of contracted amount can be expensive.
Again, depending where the device is going to end up, it may need to have a global or regional roaming tariff, or a multi-network regional roaming allowance, which can be a big advantage in areas of poor signal to have more than one network available.
Knowing where your devices are going to operate and discussing this with your SIM supplier will ensure that there are no nasty surprises at bill time!
We’ve covered security previously here: https://www.simplesolutions-uk.com/news/telematics-secure-your-data
However, the services offered by the SIM supplier will allow for greater security and should be considered for device and data security, these include:
- Private APN
An Access Point Name (APN) provides the link between the device and a wider network. Typically, with many APN, this network is connected to the public internet and as such may present security and privacy issues. A Private APN restricts the network to only the infrastructure that is allowed by the operator and generally, access to application servers residing on the public internet is provided over a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. This helps improve both the security of the device and privacy of the data transmitted.
- Closed User Group
A Closed User Group (CUG) SIM restricts both voice and SMS communication to a defined set of group members and is used to exclude access to and from the public voice and SMS networks. This helps ensure the device only receives SMS commands from a trusted source.
Combining both a Private APN and CUG SIM provide an additional level of security from the Network Operator that helps to significantly address the possible vulnerability of IoT devices.