Reliable connectivity is vital for IoT solutions. But the thorn in the side of this crucial element is the global accessibility of steady connectivity. Restrictions and a fragmented carrier ecosystem have resulted in, historically, a patchwork connectivity approach in the worldwide deployment of IoT devices.
One of the initiatives to mitigate these issues was permanent roaming.
When considering the manufacturing level of creating an IoT-powered project and wanting to provide out-of-the-box connectivity for anywhere in the world, it’s a significant feat. It’s much different than knowing you will only be deploying a solution manufactured in the United States but leveraged in Australia, and you can source connectivity in one geographic location.
But if you’re manufacturing IoT products in the United States and distributing them in 50 different countries, this task becomes much more difficult. Traditional roaming allows a device to connect to the roaming network for 30 to 45 days, and then that service will be disconnected. There is the option to purchase a local SIM once the roaming period ends, but this is intended more for personal device usage.
Imagine manufacturing IoT devices for asset tracking. Your customer who purchased those devices would be responsible for switching out SIMs by hand once that time frame had elapsed. Or, if you’ve deployed a solution for smart utilities, this now requires multiple truck rolls to replace SIMs in hard-to-reach places. It’s just not feasible and certainly not at scale.
So roaming restrictions were revised to permanent roaming, which is still not a pure-play IoT solution. Still, it bridges the gap between roaming, a more consumer-centric approach, and global connectivity.
Regulators and carriers realized that permanent roaming was a better solution for the IoT and M2M (Machine to Machine) market and would help advance this innovative field of connected devices across the globe. So it was launched as a global connectivity solution. But a unified international plan was never set forth: with permanent roaming and restrictions differing depending on locations and carriers restricting permanent roaming at will while still locking an IoT solution provider into a contract.
Ultimately, the telecommunications industry was not designed for billions of connected devices located remotely, underground, or constantly on the move – but there are options.
A Multiple International Mobile Subscriber Identities (Multi-IMSI) technology is an advanced connectivity approach to global IoT deployments. The IMSI is a component of the SIM profile, and it is what enables a device to connect to a network.
A single IMSI card, by default, will only allow for connection to a single network at a time. But Multi IMSI allows for several connections. This enables users to switch carriers when needed and connect to more networks.
When a SIM can connect to networks wherever a network is available – instead of relying on carriers and roaming agreements that vary from location to location – it makes for a more straightforward global IoT solution. And there are several key benefits to Multi-IMSI technology.
Configuration: Multi-IMSI SIM cards can be configured to automatically select the signal that best serves your connectivity needs, whether it is a network with the strongest signal or the lowest cost. Multi-IMSI technology allows the ability to preload several subscriber identities, hence providing flexibility to switch between carriers.
Redundancy: Having a backup connection in place is an excellent safeguard against outages or carrier changes. But defaulting to merely the most readily available network isn’t always ideal. So again, configuring subscriber identities to default to the best available network depending on your business needs makes Multi-IMSI an attractive option.
OTA Provisioning: Multi-IMSI technology permits over-the-air (OTA) provisioning, so changes can be made remotely.
Multi-IMSI is not subject to changing roaming agreements like a single IMSI card, making it a much more comprehensive global connectivity technology.
While Multi-IMSI technology makes global IoT deployment much simpler, it is not restricted to just global deployments. Many critical IoT applications stand to benefit from multi-network coverage for reliable communications.
Take, for instance, connected cars, cold chain monitoring solutions, mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems (mPERS), or anything other connected health applications. These use cases require critical communications that rely on constant coverage in devices that are on the move. Gaps in connectivity could be problematic.
Being able to automatically connect to the best network for continued coverage is important, and Multi-IMSI makes that possible. And in light of the current 2G and 3G network sunsets, it’s all the more critical. For IoT devices deployed in the field or in the hands of consumers, such as mPERS devices, physically swapping out SIM cards to migrate from legacy networks is expensive and may cause issues with service interruptions.
The KORE OmniSIM Reach is a great choice for those looking for Multi-IMSI, global or regional deployments.
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