What is an M2M SIM card?

M2M is the abbreviation for machine-to-machine and means that machines communicate with each other or exchange data. An M2M SIM card in turn ensures that machines and other devices have access to the internet or mobile network in order to transmit data. In this overview, we explain what M2M SIM cards are all about. If you have any further questions about M2M SIM cards, please do not hesitate to contact us.

M2M SIM from wherever SIM - All networks with one SIM card

M2M SIM cards explained in 30 seconds

  • M2M SIM cards are specially designed for IoT (Internet of Things) devices for so-called M2M (machine-to-machine) communication. They enable the exchange of data via a connection to the Internet via mobile communications.
  • Compared to normal consumer SIM cards, M2M SIM cards enable a more stable mobile connection at almost any location worldwide because the mobile networks can be used by far more than just one network operator. In addition to the familiar 4G and 5G technologies, LTE-M is also frequently supported, which is more power-efficient while offering better range.
  • M2M SIM cards have advanced security and management options for enterprises. Through web portal and API, they can be easily integrated into enterprise processes. They are used in security, logistics, e-mobility and energy technology, among others.
  • The following terms are also frequently used for M2M SIM cards: IoT SIM card, multi-net SIM, roaming SIM, global SIM or multi-IMSI SIM.
M2M sim card - wherever SIM

An overview: Features and special characteristics of M2M SIM cards

An M2M SIM is a SIM card that enables devices such as alarm systems, beverage dispensers, trucks and many others to establish a connection to the mobile network and transmit data via it. In this context, the M2M SIM is to be understood as a kind of manual for the end device, in which it receives all the information it needs to establish the Internet connection. Accordingly, it is important that the end device is technically capable of processing the information provided by the M2M SIM. Successful M2M communication therefore requires both - a reliable M2M SIM card and an intelligent end device.

A "normal" SIM card, such as the one you are familiar with from your own smartphone, is only suitable for IoT projects to a limited extent. Although M2M SIM cards do not differ visually from SIMs for smartphones, they pursue a different purpose and offer different functions accordingly. In the context of M2M communication, for example, it is important that the device can establish a data connection anywhere and at any time. It cannot do this with a normal SIM card; instead, it needs an M2M SIM card.

M2M SIM or IoT SIM card? Strictly speaking, there is no difference between an M2M and an IoT SIM card. Both terms are often used synonymously, even though IoT and M2M themselves do not actually mean the same thing. Since, technically speaking, M2M and IoT SIM cards are both SIM cards that provide information for connection to the mobile network, the difference between IoT and M2M is irrelevant for deployment. The devices in which M2M and IoT SIM cards are used are enabled by the SIMs to transmit and receive data. So anyone who is actually looking for an M2M SIM card can just as easily use IoT SIM cards.

Standard & Industrial: Different forms and properties of M2M SIMs

In order to meet the different requirements of end devices and machines, SIM formats have been and continue to be constantly developed. To ensure that the SIM cards themselves take up as little space as possible, the size has been significantly reduced, leaving more room for other components if required. Basically, a distinction is made between the SIM card formats mini, micro and nano. There are also embedded SIMs that are soldered directly into the modem as a chip. In addition to the standard version, the different formats are also available as "Industrial SIM". This more robust version is designed, for example, for an extended temperature range and a longer service life.



M2M SIM formats of the wherever SIM
Available SIM Formats
Operating Temperature
Read/write Cycles
Data Retention
Standard M2M SIM

-25°C to +85°C

Read/write Cycles

500.000

10 years

Industrial M2M SIM

-40°C to +105°C

1.000.000

10 years at -40°C to +105°C
15 years at -25°C to +85°C

2FF, 3FF, 4FF

2FF, 3FF, MFF2

M2M sim card - wherever SIM
Test wherever SIM free of charge
Test 6 months free of charge
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M2M platform

Network access: More networks for IoT projects

M2M SIMs have information and, if you will, "access keys" so that end devices can use a large number of mobile networks of different network operators both nationally and internationally (national roaming). As a result, they enable connectivity for IoT and M2M projects almost everywhere. Conventional SIM cards, especially in Germany, usually only provide the information for network use of the SIM-issuing network operator, i.e., the provider with whom the mobile communications contract was concluded. However, the availability of this one network varies depending on location: sometimes there is good reception, sometimes there is none at all.

To avoid disconnections as far as possible in IoT and M2M projects, M2M SIM cards enable network use by different network operators (in Germany Telekom, Vodafone and O2) even in Germany. M2M SIM cards are therefore also referred to as multi-network SIMs or roaming SIMs.

However, there are also differences in network access for M2M SIM cards: SIMs from independent companies, such as wherever SIM , do not prefer any mobile network and thus allow the device to connect to the best possible network at the location. In this context, we also speak of network independence or non-steered roaming. The M2M SIMs of the major network operators generally prioritize their own network. So before a terminal device is allowed to connect to the network of another mobile network operator, its own network must no longer be available. Until then, the device - no matter how poor the reception - always remains in the network of one network operator. This prioritization of networks can be a disadvantage, especially for projects in which a strong and reliable connection is required on a permanent basis.


SIM management and monitoring via platform

M2M SIM cards are connected to a platform for easier management. This is used to configure both the SIM cards and the associated endpoints. For example, service profiles can be set up for M2M SIMs, SIM cards can be activated and deactivated or mobile networks can be excluded for use(blacklisting).

In addition, comprehensive monitoring is possible via such portals. Users can see the status of the end device, whether and to which network the SIM card is connected and how much data it transmits. In the event of a problem, various diagnostic functions such as a remote reset of the SIM card can help.

At wherever SIM, we offer a clear online portal and a comprehensive API for easier management of M2M SIM cards, which can be used to transfer the data from our portal to your own systems.

Monitoring and surveillance

In addition to technical performance, the online portal is an important tool for monitoring SIM cards against misuse, improper use or unexpectedly high costs.

Cost control can be carried out via various configuration options. The configuration of permitted networks and countries ensures that end devices only connect according to the booked tariffs. Additional data limits and notifications prevent overconsumption or overuse of data or at least provide information in time to make further decisions. However, once a data limit is set and reached, the device cannot transfer any more data unless the limit is suspended. For some use cases, this is not an option, as a permanent connection of the device is necessary. In these cases, data pools are often used: The possible additional consumption of an M2M SIM is compensated by the lower consumption of other SIMs in the pool.

The misuse and misappropriation of the SIM card can be prevented by IMEI lock. This function prohibits the use of the SIM in a terminal other than the one assigned to it in the portal. This binding can only be removed via the portal. So if a SIM with IMEI lock is stolen from a device, this M2M SIM is useless in other terminals.

Safety and reliability

Security is essential for M2M communication. That is why mobile network providers already separate M2M connections from the rest of the data traffic in their core network. This is made possible by so-called APNs. These are private access points to the network. This APN must be entered once for the SIM so that it can enable the connection to the network at all. If the data traffic between the end device and the system is to be additionally protected, VPNs can also be used.

M2M plans and billing models

Unlike conventional data tariffs, M2M tariffs must cover a significantly larger bandwidth: The fluctuations in data requirements are only a few kilobytes or several gigabytes, depending on the application. For this reason, there are a variety of different tariff offers and billing models especially for M2M projects.

For example, the already mentioned data pooling. In this constellation, all active M2M SIMs use a joint data quota in which a lower consumption of SIM cards compensates for a higher data consumption of individual SIMs.

Laura Gaber
Author:
Laura Gaber
Date:
13.02.2024
Laura Gaber, M.Sc., is the longest-serving of our two Marketing Lauras. The Cologne native worked for several years as a communications all-rounder at EU level for the renewable energy sector. In 2016, Laura's curiosity drove her further afield - straight into the north and our arms. Since then, she has been dealing with the latest developments in digitalization, M2M communication and the IoT on a daily basis.

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