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IoT Global Connectivity Challenges with Roaming

7 minute read

According to recent results released from a Kaleido Intelligence global survey, roaming restrictions are in the top three most important factors influencing cellular IoT deployment. Roaming restrictions can severely limit the global potential for IoT solutions and, as the Kaleido Intelligence survey indicates, is a significant area of consideration for organisations who have either deployed or are considering deploying IoT.

What is IoT Roaming?

When a SIM card is activated in an IoT device, it is connected to a single carrier. When an IoT device moves outside of the coverage area, such as moving from North America to Europe, the device can connect to a carrier outside of its “home network” but typically for a limited amount of time – which is usually between 30 and 90 days. While this has been an acceptable solution for consumer cellular devices, such as traveling with mobiles, it is limiting to an IoT device.

Many IoT devices need to be deployed outside of the home network for years – in fact, many IoT devices have lifecycles of up to 10 years. In the case of roaming, when the permissible roaming period is ended, a device will be disconnected and even blocked from the network, effectively ending its connectivity services.

The Rise (and Fall) of Permanent Roaming

One of the attempts to overcome roaming restrictions was the introduction of permanent roaming. This was created amongst global carriers as an attempt to allow device to roam permanently outside of its home network. While a solution to the immediate problem, it is beginning to fail in the long term for several critical reasons.

  • Roaming restrictions are not universally compliant. Permanent roaming policies are subject to change, which can lead to significant struggles for organisations who have deployed solutions reliant on permanent roaming, just to have it taken away. Some countries have even gone so far as to block permanent roaming in order to protect their own local networks from large numbers of roaming devices either congesting or threatening the security of networks.
  • Roaming charges outside of a data allowance can be very high, which requires granular monitoring of deployed devices. Even still, if a device goes outside of its data allowance but still needs to consume data, organisations are stuck with the high charges.
  • Low power wide area (LPWA) networks are beginning to rise as viable alternatives to LTE and 5G cellular connectivity, but many operators do not support the technology associated with low power devices (Power Saving Mode and Extended Discontinuous Reception) in roaming devices.

Permanent roaming has acted as a stop-gap measure to a long-term problem of fragmented global connectivity, but the change has come in the form of the physical SIM card.

eSIM to Mitigate Roaming Issues

eUICC technology, which stands for embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card, allows for zero-touch provisioning to carrier networks no matter where a device is located. This simplified approach to global technology offers a single SKU, over-the-air (OTA) provisioning method that can be a radical shift to organisations hoping to deploy or scale global IoT solutions.

KORE offers a true eUICC eSIM solution with its OmniSIMTM to help organisations achieve global IoT connectivity that lasts the entire lifecycle of the device. Want to try it out? Check out our free starter kit.

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Topic(s): eSIM , Connectivity , Featured , 5G

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