Different uses for M2M and regular SIM cards
Before we start, it’s worth clarifying the difference between M2M SIMs and regular SIM cards. Put simply, regular SIM cards are mainly used for transferring data via mobile terminals (mobile phones, smart watches, tablets, etc.). They are used in both the private and public spheres. However, what you need to know is that some regular SIMs come equipped with advanced features for NFC (contactless payments), which means they don’t work properly when it comes to M2M.
Conversely, their M2M counterparts are specifically designed for use in industrial projects and equipment. They can be found in many objects such as smart computers, payment terminals and even alarms, in all sorts of sectors including health, security, and even agriculture.
To sum it up, M2M SIM card technology has links to the world of smart objects, and focuses on issues experienced in industry. M2M SIMs provide a connectivity solution tailored to industry needs, and which can be used on any type of industrial project.
Remote SIM card management
Although managing a regular SIM card designed for personal use can be an onerous task, M2M SIM cards are managed directly from custom web platforms maintained by service providers, making it possible to manage entire fleets of SIM cards from the same place. Card orders, activation and termination operations are much quicker and easier, as is monitoring the data that’s shared. These platforms are designed to provide all the data required for an IoT project to run smoothly. Comprehensive diagnostics tools are also available, making for better responses and monitoring in the event of an issue arising.
And that’s not all: platform features are generally available via an API (Application Program Interface), meaning they can be managed automatically. When using M2M SIM cards and the supporting software for general management, these APIs can also extensively support fleet management. You can even integrate them directly into your industrial process and your own management platform.
M2M connectivity solutions
M2M SIM cards are only used as part of very specific IoT/M2M projects which are designed in advance with help from industry experts. This means that prices are not fixed in advance as might happen with telephone operators providing services for the general public – instead, billing is tailored on a case-by-case basis and, in simple terms, the end user only pays for what they actually use. That being said, there are some vendors out there who do also offer fixed-price M2M packages.
Custom and permanent roaming
These rather impenetrable names hide what is actually quite a simple concept. Now and then, IoT projects may require data transmission to take place in areas with weak coverage, or in several countries at once. In situations like this, using M2M SIM cards is different to using a regular SIM in that the M2M cards offer the option of custom roaming areas. This means you’ll always be able to stay connected to a network, thanks to the SIM card’s ability to search for and pair with the best network available in the area. These “multi-operator” SIM cards will freely connect to different networks offered by local operators. In France, for example, you’d have access to Orange, Bouygues Télécom, SFR and Free – all with a single SIM card.
This roaming capability, which is also offered for regular SIM cards during trips abroad, has no time limit on it with M2M cards: it’s permanent. With a regular SIM, roaming is only available for a period of 4 months, after which point additional fees apply. With an M2M SIM, SIM cards can be connected to any existing GSM network for an unlimited period of time.
Solutions tailored to industry requirements
To respond to maintenance or remote object management issues, you may need to have static private or public IP solutions in place, and use private APNs which are undetectable to the general public. This allows for an additional layer of security, as well as far-reaching, real-time remote access to critical industrial solutions.
M2M SIM cards can be used in a wide variety of situations and the most extreme conditions (high or low temperatures, vibrations, harsh conditions, etc.). Each SIM card model can be “toughened” to withstand these conditions and remain in the best possible state. This makes them a good option for any industrial project in which environmental conditions will be a key factor.