What actually is an M2M SIM? Why is it very important to use an M2M SIM rather than regular SIM cards in an IoT deployment? What are the benefits of M2M SIMs?
For regular users without adequate technical knowledge, answering these questions might not be the easiest thing to do. In this guide, we will attempt to answer those as well as other things you might need to know about M2M SIM cards and their role in IoT implementations.
What Is M2M
M2M, simply put, is an abbreviation of “Machine To Machine”, and as the name suggests it refers to direct data transfer and information exchange between two devices using a wired or wireless communication channel and without needing human intervention.
When, for example, we send a text message, the text message is first sent to a server, then probably to a satellite before it is received by the recipient. Thus, this type of information exchange is not considered M2M.
On the other hand, when two cell phones exchange information via BlueTooth, then it can be considered M2M information exchange since it is a direct exchange.
M2M information exchange is a very important basis of IoT (Internet of Things), allowing the automation of virtually any process on any device. Today, M2M connectivity has found application in various different sectors from smart home appliances to healthcare devices to manufacturing machines.
M2M allows users to implement automation, improving productivity and accuracy while also maintaining cost-efficiency.
So, what is an M2M SIM?In a nutshell, an M2M SIM is a SIM that facilitates an M2M connection between two devices (or machines).
SIM, or Subscriber Identity Module, is an integrated circuit (IC) with the function to securely store the identity and subscription data of a mobile provider’s subscriber so the network operator can use the data to identify and authenticate subscribers on these devices.
In a smartphone, for example, a SIM card enables the transfer of voice, data, and text communications. An M2M SIM, however, is designed to allow the direct transfer of data between two devices.
The M2M SIM can be inserted (as a SIM card with various form factors) or embedded (as an eSIM) into an IoT device. Typically the network provider that supports the M2M data plan would also provide a management platform, where you can monitor data usage and manage all of your SIMs in a single dashboard. This platform, for example, would allow us to set data caps and disable certain SIMs.
M2M SIM VS Regular SIM Cards
Why can’t we simply use regular SIM cards in our IoT deployments?
The simplest answer is because these regular SIM cards don’t provide the critical features demanded by today’s IoT projects, namely:
In advanced IoT projects, IoT devices and sensors might be deployed in remote areas with harsh conditions like extreme temperatures, severe vibrations, and others.
A regular SIM card we typically use in our smartphone isn’t designed to be very durable and typically can only last a couple of years before we’d need to replace it with a new one.
Depending on the form factor, an M2M SIM can last for up to a decade and is designed to withstand extreme conditions. An M2M eSIM is integrated into the device and thus is protected by the device’s body to provide more durability.
- Data plan aggregations
A large-scale IoT implementation might include hundreds and even thousands of devices in the network, and thus potentially thousands of M2M SIMs.
Another important feature of M2M SIM cards is data plan aggregations, allowing users to reduce risks of incurring charges when, for example, some of the devices are overusing data while others are underusing data. In such cases, all of these devices would be aggregated to the same plan to allow better cost-efficiency.
Truphone for Things M2M SIM cards, for example, offer data plans that allow aggregations, and you can also monitor the status of your M2M SIMs via a dedicated IoT management platform so you can monitor data usages of each M2M SIM.
- Remote SIM Provision
Regular SIM cards, except in rare cases, are typically locked to a single network operator, and they can only keep the device connected to this single network. For example, we can only use a Verizon SIM card with Verizon and not with AT&T. Thus, if you want to change to another network, you’ll need to physically replace the SIM card.
M2M SIMs, on the other hand, allow Remote SIM Provisioning and eUICC, allowing the M2M SIM to download and access multiple network operators, allowing users to switch between networks seamlessly without needing to switch SIM cards.
With the right data plan, this feature can be useful for large-scale IoT deployments where devices are separated between countries and/or for mobile IoT devices like autonomous vehicles. Truphone for Things M2M SIM cards, for example, offer coverage in more than 150 countries while also offering full Remote SIM provisioning support.
With M2M SIMs, especially eSIMs, we can enable IoT devices to send and receive data from anywhere with cellular coverage, and so we can scale the IoT network globally without needing to invest in additional infrastructure.
At the moment, IoT cellular connectivity via M2M SIM remains the most viable option in realizing global IoT.
There are several important benefits of using M2M SIMs over regular SIM cards in IoT deployments: M2M SIMs are designed to be more durable, ideal for IoT devices that are deployed in harsher conditions, and with remote provisioning, we can get better scalability in our IoT deployments with relatively low upfront costs.