SIM Providers: LTE-M/Nb-IoT + Roaming, and Setup

In order to get online with our latest range of 4G LTE-M/NB-IoT devices, you will require a SIM card that operates on these networks. Network terminology can be confusing - often multiple terms are used for the same network - e.g. Cat-M1 and LTE-M are used interchangeably. 

More information on our website!

For an overview, please check out this explainer on our website


Important points

Tracking Specific SIMs

Our LTE-M/NB-IoT devices will need special SIMs for these networks - i.e. often a standard '4G Prepaid SIM' like you would buy for your mobile phone will likely not get you online. 


Test!

LTE-M and NB-IoT networks are relatively new, and are still being rolled out in some places. Teething problems may occur. They are usually quickly resolved and once a network has been up and running for a while expect trouble-free operation. However test new SIMs, networks and technologies thoroughly before deploying in volume. 


Pricing - you get what you pay for

Keeping ongoing data costs to the absolute minimum is critical and a key factor if many tracking applications are even viable, or will get off the ground. When deploying many devices, even small differences in data costs per device can quickly rack up. However it is important to note that a higher level of service = higher cost. 

Please see our website for information on the differences between LTE-M and NB-IoT. The general difference in application can be summarised as:

  • NB-IoT: Suitable for very limited updates, i.e. location updates 4 times a day, temp readings 2 x per day. Plans and data limits which are now emerging reflect this - i.e. some provide less than 100kB per month. NB-IoT is not suitable for tracking - i.e. turn by turn tracking of a vehicle with many updates and comparatively more data. 
  • LTE-M: Suitable for tracking applications. Cell tower handover is supported (so the device will stay connected if a vehicle being tracked drives between towers) - and more data usage above the very stringent NB-IoT limits is covered. 

Commercial Deployments

It is tempting to go for some very low cost, relatively unknown roaming SIM cards. However certain networks may have agreements with the roaming providers that if a SIM stays attached to their network for too long (i.e. >6mths continuously) - it can be kicked off. This kind of uncertainty is not acceptable for a large deployment. Any savings on SIM data will quickly evaporate if units need to be recovered and SIMs swapped. This is not to discourage cost saving measures - lower priced tracking is great for everyone! But the risks and benefits should be weighed up when choosing untested SIMs and networks. Test thoroughly before rolling out large scale deployments!


So what SIMs should I actually get? What providers are there?

This article serves as a record of what SIMs which Digital Matter have knowledge of working with our products in various countries.

Key Points

  • The list of SIMs in this article is not an exhaustive list of all available SIMs and providers - plenty others exist and may well work. 
  • This is not a list of 'approved providers', you're free to use any SIM you choose!
  • This list relies purely on the feedback of our partners to help build it. We have better data in the countries where we are more active/have more devices. It's just our experiences/learnings. 
  • Many of the roaming SIMs will list on their website that they roam to many more countries than are indicated below. We add an entry when we have confirmation the SIM will work in that country. 
  • Results often change, we have had some providers which initially would not connect, only to find after various updates from 3rd parties (networks, SIM providers, component providers) to have them connect.
  • The inverse is not as common but also possible. Partners should conduct their own testing!

LTE-M/NB-IoT Networks are still relatively new, but in many countries coverage is very widespread. Roaming is also relatively new, but in recent months we have seen many new providers come to market with good results.

See GSM Arena - Mobile IoT Commercial Launches for an up to date list of current and announced LTE-M/Nb-IoT networks globally. 

So in selecting a SIM card, in making your decision:

  1. Check the GSM Arena list, to find what networks operate LTE-M or NB-IoT networks in your country/countries of interest
  2. You will need to source a SIM, either:
    1. A 'home' SIM directly from the network or one of their resellers (preferred if roaming between countries isn't a requirement)
    2. A roaming SIM that can roam onto one of these networks

The information below can guide you in making your choice in (2) 

Our Results/Findings

See our other article discussing 4G Connectivity - Cat-M1 vs NB-IoT, Coverage, Providers and Roaming

This article summarises our current confidence level in the various technologies and SIMs as follows. 

  1. Cat-M1, on the SIM's home network: highly confident and very well proven.
  2. Cat-M1, with a roaming SIM: with the right APN settings, confident, and well proven.
  3. NB-IoT, on the SIM's home network: experience varies greatly between networks and regions. Proceed with caution.
  4. NB-IoT, with a roaming SIM: we have not seen this work yet, but hope to have an update soon as network roaming agreements progress. Expect this not to work.

This is reflected in our findings below.


How do I configure any network settings if required?

Our devices make use of clever firmware features to automatically detect which type of SIM card is installed in a unit on startup, and automatically apply the right settings. We call this AutonetWhat this means is that in the majority of cases, devices will get online automatically, with no special setup. However this is not a guarantee in all cases. 

If you are unsure, it is best that you order a Wired Provisioning Tool with your devices, and then configuration instructions are covered here:

In the tables below, all SIMs should (things can change!) connect automatically unless otherwise specified. 


Jump to:

Australia | Austria | Belgium | France | Hong Kong | New Zealand | North America | Norway | Spain | Switzerland | Roaming SIM Cards


Australia

In Australia the current preferred option is Telstra's Cat-M1 network, using a SIM card provided by M2M One.

Other roaming SIM cards are available that will work on Telstra's Cat-M1 network. After some initial issues with roaming SIMs on Cat-M1, this appears to have settled down.

We have a very high level of confidence of M2M One's Cat-M1 SIMs that work on the Telstra network.

The other listed SIMs appear to be working well but are not as extensively tested. 

TechnologySIM ProviderResultsNetwork
Cat-M1M2M One (reccomended)Recommended SIM for Australia. Excellent results on Telstra's Cat-M1 network. Great service from M2M OneTelstra Cat-M1
Coverage is widespread. Available in essentially every area 3G exists.
Coverage Map

Twilio (limited testing)
Cat-M1TelstraExcellentTelstra Cat-M1
Cat-M1EmnifyGood results, gets online automatically but be sure to apply the right configuration once onlineTelstra Cat-M1 (roams on network)
Cat-M1SoracomWorking well - testing is not widespread but initial results look goodTelstra Cat-M1 (roams on network)
Cat-M1Spark NZ Roaming SIMWorking well - testing is not widespread. A decent option if devices will travel between AU and NZ. Telstra Cat-M1
(roams on network - and to Spark's network in NZ)
Cat-M11NCE Roaming SIMDoes not work in Australia. Using this SIM in AU seems to cause issues with the uBlox SARA R410M - avoid
Works ok in other countries though, so there seems to be a specific issue with these SIMs roaming in AU.  
Telstra Cat-M1
NB-IoTM2MOneThe DMA office have tested a few Telstra NB-IoT SIMs and got them online.
Network only recently launched (Q3 2020). We got "NB-IoT Type 1" SIM Cards online
Telstra NB-IoT
NB-IoTM2MOneLimited testing of eDCP NB-IoT SIMs (this is Telstra's roaming NB-IoT SIM). Got online automatically. 
Telstra NB-IoT
NB-IoTOptusTested by DM in DM Perth office - working well. Connects automatically with no input.
Extent of coverage is not well known.
Optus NB-IoT
NB-IoTVodafoneInitially Vodafone NB-IoT Would not work due to DNS issues as ePCO was not enabled.

This is now reportedly enabled - but DNS still does not work.

As of 2020 we can work around this using our Provisioning Tool. But aiding data downloads fail - so fixes take longer, reducing battery life on battery powered devices.
Vodafone NB-IoT

Austria

TechnologySIM ProviderResultsNetwork
NB-IoTA1Proven to work well with our devices in Austria using A1 SIMsA1

Belgium

TechnologySIM ProviderResultsNetwork
NB-IoTOrangeCoverage is good, DM devices have had a lot of success using Orange NB-IoT SIMsOrange
NB-IoT1NCECoverage is good, DM devices have had success using 1NCE SIMs *issues in Australia – see AU section
APN must be set to "iot.1nce.net"
1NCE

France

TechnologySIM ProviderResultsNetwork
NB-IoT1NCECoverage is good, DM devices have had success using 1NCE SIMs *issues in Australia – see AU section
APN must be set to "iot.1nce.net"
1NCE

Hong Kong

TechnologySIM ProviderResultsNetwork
NB-IoTOrange/3 MobileIssues with DNS but can be worked around using a Wired Provisioning Tool.
See DNS Troubleshooting on 4G
Three

New Zealand

TechnologySIM ProviderResultsNetwork
Cat-M1Vodafone NZGreat results. Many devices in operation in NZ.
Coverage Map
Vodafone Cat-M1
Cat-M1Spark NZGreat results, many devices in operation. Widespread coverage. Coverage MapSpark NZ Cat-M1
NB-IoTVodafoneCoverage Map - reportedly performing well - but DM have not yet seen significant evidence to support thisVodafone NZ NB-IoT

Vodafone: 
Note in NZ, Vodafone may supply a 'local' and GDSP (Global Data Service Platform) SIM card. Currently, GDSP SIMs require the APN to be set, and will not join automatically. Check with your provider for this APN. In future firmware releases, this should not be an issue.


North America

USA

TechnologyProviderResultsNetwork
Cat-M1AerisGood results, across a large number of devices (recommended roaming card for the US)AT&T
Cat-M1PodGood results, Pod supply 'native' AT&T SIMs
Must set APN "data641003"
AT&T
Cat-M1EmnifyGood results, gets online automatically but be sure to apply the right configuration once onlineRoams on Sprint and AT&T
Cat-M1AT&TOnly certified devices may be used on these networks (Oyster2 and Dart2 currently)AT&T
Cat-M1VerizonDevice IMEI must be added to Verizon database by Digital Matter. Only certified devices may be used on Verizon (Remora2, Oyster2, and Yabby GPS currently). Limitations on how often the device may upload - this is handled by Applying the correct settings for VerizonVerizon
Cat-M1HologramMust configure APN: "hologram" to get onlineAT&T


Canada

TechnologyProviderResultsNetwork
Cat-M1RogersMust configure APN to get online. Received from the carrier.Rogers
Cat-M1BellMust configure APN to get online. Received from the carrier.Bell
Cat-M1TelusMust configure APN to get online. Received from the carrier.Telus
Cat-M1AerisGood results, recommended roaming sim.AT&T
Cat-M1EMnifyGood results, gets online automatically but be sure to apply the right configuration once onlineTelus

Norway

TechnologyProviderResultsNetwork
NB-IoTTelenorProven to work well with our devices in Norway using Telenet SIMsTelenet
NB-IoTCOM4Proven to work well with our devices in Norway using COM4 SIMsCOM4
NB-IoT
1NCECoverage is good, DM devices have had success using 1NCE SIMs *issues in Australia – see AU section
APN must be set to "iot.1nce.net"
1NCE

Spain

TechnologyProviderResultsNetwork
Cat-M1EmnifyGood results, gets online automatically but be sure to apply the right configuration once onlineOrange (roams)

Switzerland

TechnologyProviderResultsNetwork
NB-IoTMigrosNB-IoT devices reportedly connecting
NB-IoTHologramNB-IoT not yet supported on Hologram. Awaiting further tests. 

Roaming SIM Cards

With our confidence levels above in mind, there are some roaming SIMs currently on the market if roaming is required. 

Modem and network updates has led to their performance improving dramatically in recent months. Many of these cards are referenced in the above tables as they have been tested in the relevant country. Consult the provider's network and country list for full details - but always test!

Roaming SIM Note

Some networks have in their agreements with roaming SIM providers that they roaming SIM shouldn't roam for too long on the home network continuously - or they may be switched off. Check with your providers before deploying large device volumes!


These SIMs are mentioned in the above tables per country. However they are listed here for convenience. Check the providers website for a list of countries and networks the SIMs roam on:

  • Emnify
  • Soracom

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