M2M connectivity is a critical function for many businesses and organizations around the world. It allows machines to communicate with one another, no matter the distance, transferring important information rapidly to improve some processes and make others possible. From vending machines that communicate their stock level to the warehouse computer, to sensors that detect and guide the flow of traffic, M2M is everywhere.

There are all manner of technologies that underpin M2M connectivity. You might have a very simple wired connection that allows two machines to relay sensor information for example, or you might have two machines that use a local WiFi connection to do the same. However, in many applications, machines need to be able to communicate without a wired connection, or without a local internet connection.

This often means using a mobile network, also known as a cellular network. Just like talking to someone over the phone, or using 4G or 5G to access the internet, machines can carry on communicating even if they’re remote or have no access to a local network. In order to do this, just like a mobile phone, the machine will need a SIM card. However, M2M SIM cards are not quite the same as the typical SIM or international SIM that you’ll find inside your mobile phone. But what is the difference between M2M and international SIM cards? Let’s take a look.

What’s the purpose of an international SIM?

Firstly, what is an international SIM for?

An international SIM card is quite simply a SIM card that allows the user to connect to a cellular network wherever they travel. They’re the standard in many places where roaming is common, though local SIMs are available in many places too, and are often the standard in larger countries such as the USA. International SIM cards will connect to an available carrier’s network, and then the user will be billed for their usage through their normal cell phone provider.

In some cases, certain special plans will use an international SIM that connects to any carrier, allowing roaming and uses anywhere, but the user will be charged as though they are connected to their normal provider’s network. This is especially useful for those that travel regularly.

How does an M2M SIM differ?

SIM stands for the subscriber identity module, which helps to explain why machines might need SIM cards. Essentially, the SIM card identifies the machine to the mobile network, allowing the machine to communicate through it. In this way, M2M SIM cards are in fact quite similar to your typical SIM card. However, there are a few important differences.

While some machines might be expected to withstand no more abuse than a mobile phone, many will operate at high temperatures, and vibrate heavily while in use. The SIM must be able to withstand these extremes. Often, the SIM is embedded more deeply into the machine, or even integrated with it, in order to ensure constant working ability.

Finally, there’s also the issue of the connectivity itself. The machines and devices involved in M2M connections may be required to work seamlessly all over the world, which is why good M2M SIMs and associated accounts will be able to connect to a network almost anywhere, without needing multiple accounts or subscriptions with various different networks. Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help with M2M solutions.