A SIM is for life, not just for Christmas. We have all got used to the networks sending out SIMs as part of an upgrade or swapping network. The user takes the back of the phone off, pops the new SIM in and away you go. Even the introduction of a dangerous looking crimping tool to get the pico-shaped SIM your new phone needs is taken in your stride. You can be confident that your cherished phone number will follow you from network to network under clearly defined and understood Ofcom rules.
In this world of transferable business picking an airtime provider is a relatively low risk process. If it turns out the technical support is poor, the SIMs are consumer grade or the backhaul is so contested you are losing data then not all is lost. Simply transfer the SIMs to a new provider and everything will be better.
But M2M is different. By definition the SIM is in an unattended and possibly hostile location. It may be potted into the unit, making a physical swap impossible. A Port Authorisation Code (PAC) does still allow you to transfer the number but in these days of IP that has little value. The phone number, if it exists at all, has no commercial relevance. The M2M SIM, once it is in a unit, is almost certainly there for the life of the product, even before you start to look at the contract.
So, when you are reaching for that packet of SIMs, or buying the cheapest airtime you can find on the internet, pause for a moment. How long is that unit going to be out in the field? What is your planned mean time between failures, recovery cost, and loss of revenue for failing deliver the service? If the M2M provider isn’t charging you for industrial grade SIMs, backhaul, technical support and even customer service what kind of shape are they going to be in when you need them in two three or ten years’ time?
When thinking about buying a SIM then demand to see the Network Infrastructure, ask to see the DR plan, the Service Level Agreement, meet the customer service team and have a look at the billing information. Make sure you get SIMs that are for life, not just for Christmas.
Written by Douglas Gilmour