Get Maximum Performance Out of Your IoT Connectivity
Want to get the most out of your IoT connectivity? Ensure wide coverage, high performance, and reduced costs? Here’s how you can supercharge the way you utilize your connectivity to get three for three.
Three tools for balancing costs and coverage
Getting the right balance between coverage and cost is key for today’s connectivity managers, especially when entering new markets. Businesses need to be able to ensure IoT deployments in the right locations for their global needs, and yet costs have to be kept to a minimum, especially in regions where there are multiple carriers to choose between.
At floLIVE, we provide three main tools to balance costs and coverage in a smart way.
Black listing and white listing
With this approach, rules are applied directly at the core network level. Once policies have been created, the SIM won’t register on a blacklisted network at all. Instead, the SIM will move to the next network, re-authenticating to one that meets your business needs. Examples include blocking per country, blacklisting 3G or 4G only, or whitelisting only local IMSIs, so that you don’t get into roaming challenges.
At floLIVE, we support you in creating the right policies before SIMs are deployed, going over your business needs ahead of time. For example, you might be nervous about IoT devices being fraudulently moved out of a specific region, so you can white-list only the networks in the correct region for your business needs before they even become active.
Then, moving forward, if you notice that one specific network is more expensive than another, this network can be blacklisted and therefore blocked immediately.
What is location steering? On the SIM itself, there is a location setting which determines in which regions different IMSIs are allowed to operate. Each time the device tries to connect, it will compare the current location of the device to the first available IMSI and connect, according to the order on the SIM. This allows you to only allow certain network connections within a region.
The advantage of using location steering is that it’s managed on the SIM level. In contrast, whitelisting and blacklisting are implemented in the core. This means that the SIM has to try to connect first before being rejected. This adds connection delays and takes up some battery power. Location steering occurs before the device ever tries to connect a particular network, therefore highly suitable for battery-powered devices.
As this approach by default only drills down to a specific country, you can use this with whitelisting/blacklisting to obtain connectivity via only particular networks. Whitelisting also helps as not all devices work with the SIM applet. If you’re interested in implementing steering as a strategy, our experts will provide you the consultation and support you need.
Setting a preferred network
Also using the SIM itself, you can set a preferred network. This allows customers to choose the network that the device SIM tries first, above any others. Of course, if the device loses service at any time, it will move to another, but this will smooth out the process of choosing your #1 network. You can prioritize more than one preferred network, creating a list of different networks, up to five networks altogether in your order of preference. Customers who would like to create their own prioritized list can make a request to support, and this will be visible in the customer portal.
One example of this in practice is a customer of ours who was faced with a provider steadily raising its connectivity price to the point where it was 10x the competition. This network had the widest coverage so it was still needed as a backup. But, by analyzing the rate sheets, an alternative network was found with similar coverage but at a much cheaper cost. It was set as the preferred network, and the customer was able to drastically reduce its costs without sacrificing coverage.
Smart practices for getting best-in-class performance
Looking for some advice on how to get the most out of connectivity? Here are a few of floLIVE’s top tips.
- Compartmentalize your SIMs into regions, even if you can’t predict the country they are being sent to ahead of time. Later in the day, you can get more sophisticated and granular.
- Plan ahead and sit with your vendor to discuss your strategy and your cellular IoT connectivity needs. They have worked with many different enterprises, and will be able to share their best practices.
- Utilize OTA SIM updates, adding and removing IMSIs while the SIM is active, when you can see they can be replaced by something that works better, or when devices are moving location.
- Stay on top of alerts, setting policies for when unexpected costs have occurred, performance dips, or when coverage is limited. Start understanding your connectivity from the inside-out.
- Monitor connectivity rate sheets, analyzing the rates monthly to find any changes in price. Over time you’ll be able to get a broader understanding of costs and easily adapt your connectivity in a way that makes sense for your business.
A unique billing structure that’s built for your benefit
It’s also important to look at the underlying billing structure, and how it can be used to add flexibility to the way you charge your end users.
First, ensure you’re only being charged for connected IoT devices which are active, and that devices that have not yet connected or are lying dormant never crop up on your monthly invoice. Ideally, you want to see that SIMs are only charged for after first usage, and there’s no rounding up to the beginning of that month or quarter, whether you start on day 5, day 12, or day 27. .
By paying for exact usage, not in bundles, buckets or tiers, you get peace of mind that you’re paying for just what you need, and of course – you can pass on those benefits to your own users.
Getting granular about connectivity needs is also critical. When your plan can apply specifically to each SIM, you can get granular with setting plans for customers based on your business context, for example setting up prepaid packages and cutting connectivity off at a specific threshold, or setting specific rates for certain packages of data at different prices, all customized to your exact customer needs.
Putting it into practice: A case study of balancing cost and performance
We can see these best practices work in the wild with one of our customers in the Energy sector. A power bank company in China was using the floLIVE SIM as well as virtual SIMs for their global business. They were using two different IMSIs to obtain better coverage in Japan through a different network. However, the data rates with the Japan IMSI was 10x higher than the others, so they wanted to use this cellular network as little as possible.
floLIVE worked with the company to set up and choose a preferred network at the reduced cost. Only if the SIM couldn’t ensure the connection to the preferred network, then they would switch to the more expensive network to obtain coverage.
As well as a smart autonomous switching solution, floLIVE generated a usage Data Recordreport so that the company could see, calculate, and analyze the amount of data usage and its related costs. They could measure and monitor if costs were rising over time, all accessible from the customer portal. floLIVE’s IoT connectivity solution supported the business in gaining granular insight into what at first would appear to be small differences in cost, but of course — added up heavily over time.