Choosing a data plan for your IoT devices can be a challenge because there are many options and no single best solution. In this guide, we’ll consider the variables to keep in mind as you’re making a decision — things like speed, coverage, pricing, type of device and SIM, and the physical environment where your devices will be deployed.
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IoT data explained
IoT involves many devices communicating with one another through the cloud and requires a data plan to facilitate those exchanges.
Working with a dedicated IoT data provider removes many of the problems that arise in working with individual carriers in multiple locations. Things like international use, price, up-front costs, and device network management can all be handled by an IoT data company — while a mainstream cellular carrier would leave those details to you.
To understand the value of working with an IoT data provider, think about how challenging it can be to manage a family cellular plan with five lines — then, imagine overseeing the 5000 devices you need for your manufacturing system. Having an IoT data provider manage these connections and carrier negotiations will save you time and costs in both the short and long-term.
How are IoT data plans structured?
Generally, IoT data plans follow the same norms as other cellular data plans — the more you pay, the better speed and coverage you get. Some providers offer flexible data plans with pay-as-you-go pricing, allowing you to pay only for what you need. For example, Hologram allows you to pay a small fee per active device and either add flexible data or a flexible pool that can be shared across all your global devices. This option is ideal for small deployments, micromobility, asset tracking, and field sensors.
High volume data plans are suited to autonomous vehicles, computer vision products, and streaming data applications that require higher bandwidths.
Beyond the basics, it’s important to look for a provider that allows you to flex your plan as you scale up. As a company grows, the demands on the IoT data plan change along with it.
How do you choose an IoT data plan?
When you’re shopping for the right IoT data plan, keep these considerations in mind:
Evaluate your need for speed — will your devices transmit high-resolution images or video, or are they low-power sensors that only need to check in with the network once a day?
A fleet of trucks driving through remote areas will have much different coverage needs than stationary devices in urban areas. Choosing a plan with the required coverage is important.
- Management and support
How nimble does your plan need to be? If you anticipate a continual evolution of needs in your products, having a dedicated support service provider is imperative.
- Pricing and flexibility
The last thing you want is to be overpaying for unneeded services that are part of a plan package. Being able to choose only the services you need in your plan can yield significant cost savings.
Much like traditional data plans, location plays a big part in choosing the right IoT data plan. Do you need your devices to work in different regions around the world? Are they carried with customers (wearable health monitors, for example), meaning you have no idea where they will end up, or will they remain in the same location?
- Use case
The use case can have a big impact on a device’s data needs. Fleet management sensors on the open road will have different needs than devices inside micromobility vehicles in an urban environment. A device used to monitor the medical wellbeing of an elderly patient will need continuous connectivity, whereas a soil sensor on a smart farm can provide a single daily status update.
IoT data plans to get you off the ground
Mapping out your IoT data needs will help you choose the best possible data plan. At Hologram, we understand the need for ongoing flexibility and global coverage. Explore our IoT data plans to find the option that’s right for you.