As said in the first post of this series – the idea is to create a cellular tracker. Not just because mobile internet makes more sense in the wild – i also believe that IoT Devices will be operated on mobile networks even if they are at home or in an office.
Anyway – one thing that had to be sorted out is the mobile service provider, at the end i needed a SIM-Card for my device. Of course i could just have used my local mobile provider (in my case Deutsche Telekom) – and indeed my first tries were conducted with a secondary SIM-card from my iPad. But of course this approach does not scale in many ways: It is too expensive – even if you buy a prepaid data-only card you will end up with more or less 10EUR monthly fee. No Roaming included of course. Another point – if you think about many devices you would want to have a sort of management dashboard or so to see your SIM-cards, activate and control them etc. – with no surprise consumer-oriented SIM-cards are not coming with a service like this.
We need a dedicated machine to machine SIM-card provider that comes with a management console, affordable prices, ideally international roaming (because you might quickly want to sell your product outside your company or use your tracker while traveling) and in my case at least a 2G coverage (Fona does only need 2G, it couldn’t even handle higher networks).
Surprisingly my provider Deutsche Telekom indeed are offering M2M cards as well – they even have a dedicated Website for it and are offering interesting starter kits, a developer community etc. – So i ordered a testkit right away. Unfortunately i did not receive anything until today, no email, no call, no kit. But i ordered months ago. Well…
Fortunately i had a chat with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, the Designer of the famous Goodnight-Lamp. I asked her how she solved this and she named a company called eseye.com.
To cut it short: They are great! Contact was established with an email and a response time within a day and i got a first test-card within another 2-3 days. And it worked with no further ado – although it was already on roaming as these guys are sitting in the UK and the SIMs are registered as roaming in a german network*. They do have a management console/portal that shows you all the SIMs you are running including details like traffic consumption etc. They have affordable prices based on volume only. It’s really the solution you are looking for if you want to do something in that field. Ah – and not to forget: their SIM-Cards are coming with international roaming in all European countries + Canada and the US (the website currently says 96 countries all together)! That’s really awesome!
*ok, i had to modify the fona-sketch because it would not work with a roaming-response initially – but this is just one line of code
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