On a construction site, in the production shop and in transportation and logistics SIM cards are a key component of connectivity. That is why, subject to the application area, an IoT SIM must fulfill special M2M requirements.
In a shipping container on the high seas, on a parking lot in the open air or in a kiln at over 100°C, IoT devices are to be found in many different places and often need to withstand a wide range of weather conditions, temperatures, shocks or vibrations. These smart devices are equipped with SIM cards that enable them to transmit data to a cloud platform. The SIM cards must also be especially temperature-resistant, robust and reliable if they are to relay data from basements, cold stores or kilns. In addition, IoT SIM cards must support different network technologies – from 3G/UMTS and 4G/LTE via 5G to NB-IoT and LTE-M.
Which SIM card is best suited for which IoT project? Along wit the classic plug-in SIM and the SIM chip that is soldered in, there is the eSIM and the nuSIM.
The Classic Plug-In Sim
From mobile hand scanners via smoke detectors to EC card terminals for cashless payment, the classic plug-in SIM is mainly suitable for interior M2M solution use. The classic SIM is not designed for strong temperature fluctuations, shocks or soiling. In much the same way as for smartphones classic plug-in SIMs come in three sizes: a Mini SIM, a Micro SIM or a Nano SIM. The IoT device’s hardware has a slot into which the SIM card is inserted.
Soldered-In Sim for Complex Industrial Applications
On a construction site, on the road or in the production shop, dust and shocks are to be expected. Not a problem for the chip SIM, which is soldered onto the hardware’s printed circuit board. To ensure that the M2M SIM is especially resistant to vibration, temperatures and moisture, it is sealed and thereby protected from corrosion. That makes the chip SIM suitable for IoT devices with a long service life that are either in the open air or constantly on the move. As the SIM is soldered in, it is not so easy to remove. In the event of theft it will continue to report the device’s location and can be tracked and traced.
eSIM: The Built-In IoT SIM for Compact IoT Solutions
An embedded SIM (eSIM) is suitable for complex industrial IoT uses. Corrosion- and temperature-resistant, the tiny SIM chip has a service life of at least ten years. Manufacturers solder it onto the printed circuit board of a smartphone or connected vehicle. Smart devices are more compact in design because there is no interface between hardware and SIM card. The SIM card cannot be removed and is theft-proof. If the IoT device is stolen, the eSIM continues to transmit its location.
The network operator can be specified in an eSIM profile. If the provider or tariff is changed in the course of a project the change can be undertaken remotely at no great effort or expense. That is an advantage because many M2M solutions are hard to access.
nuSIM: The Integrated SIM for Greater Security in IoT Projects
The nuSIM is an integrated SIM (iSIM). Its SIM functions are integrated directly in the communication chip. In contrast to the eSIM no separate element is added to the printed circuit board. That saves time and money at the manufacturing stage because no hardware components are required for the IoT SIM. The nuSIM is less susceptible to vibration or fluctuations in temperature. The device’s enclosed design protects the chip from dust and moisture. That is an advantage if it is used in a smart city, on a construction site or in transportation and logistics.
The integrated SIM chip also makes IoT solutions more secure. Login data is encrypted and stored on the SIM, ensuring secure access to mobile networks and the Internet. That is an advantage when billing for roaming fees if, say, a container with a GPS tracker is shipped around Europe.
With an integrated M2M SIM the IoT device no longer needs to check whether a SIM card has been inserted. That saves electricity and cuts costs. SIM functionalities are reduced to IoT operation. So the nuSIM is significantly more energy efficient than an eSIM and prolongs the battery life of IoT devices in the M2M sector. So the nuSIM is optimally suited for cost-intensive IoT applications such as Smart Parking or connected street lighting and for use in Narrowband IoT networks. The nuSIM is also available for M2M communication in the IoT network standard LTE-M.
Benefits of the nuSIM Along the Value Chain
Chip manufacturers upgrade their components in the production process by means of mobile Internet access.
Module manufacturers make devices smaller, more energy-efficient and less expensive and ship them with operator profiles ex works.
Device manufacturers save the costs of storage and logistics that physical SIM cards incur.
End users receive a simple, ready-to-go solution.
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Ümit has been working at T-Systems since 2015 and knows a great deal about many facets of the Internet of Things. He is particularly interested in topics related to the digitalization of the business world. For the blog, he reports on new developments and trends in the IoT world that offer real added value for customers.