Switching IoT Connectivity Provider: How Hard Can It Be?

Eseye author


IoT Hardware and Connectivity Specialists


For global IoT deployments to reach their potential economic value, future-proofed connectivity needs to be guaranteed. This can be a challenge in itself, for reasons we will go into in this article.

But another concern that only appears once connectivity has been established, is what to do when your IoT connectivity provider doesn’t meet your expectations?

How do you avoid provider lock-in? How do you switch to an alternative IoT connectivity provider? 

Many of the IoT and M2M use cases with potential for high revenues rely on large scale deployment models with an international scope. But until recently this scope remained limited, because international IoT connectivity remains challenging on two fronts:  

  • Building IoT devices in one configuration that can be deployed and activated anywhere in the world  
  • Deploying mobile IoT devices that can move from one region to another and retain connectivity 

In practical terms, the first part of this challenge means enterprises often have to build IoT devices with different connectivity configurations for different regions, losing economies of scale. The second part of the challenge means that internationally mobile IoT devices run the risk of losing connectivity when they travel to a different geography, putting the entire business model in danger.  

Both of these situations are compounded by an additional headache – once you’ve decided on a connectivity provider for your IoT initiative, whether an MNO (Mobile Network Operator) or an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), you’re pretty much locked-in.

A potential approach to the first challenge is to establish connectivity agreements with local operators in all the regions your devices will be deployed. This can be an expensive and time consuming process, with a high management overhead, potentially requiring the deployment of local SIMs.  

For challenge two, a viable approach historically has been even harder to implement, not least because long-term or permanent roaming is unfeasible (or even banned outright), requiring devices to have roaming periods of less than 90 days, or even SIM swaps to take place when devices cross into new territories.  

But a consequence of the third challenge – connectivity provider lock-in – can be even more damaging to an enterprise, because if connectivity providers are unwilling or unable to provide a high-value experience or service, they are also effectively disincentivized from making it easy to leave the network.  

There are solutions to all the above however, and in this article we will look at recent developments that make switching IoT connectivity providers easy and achievable.  

With IoT devices and business models reaching a significant level of maturity, it’s rapidly becoming clear that mission-critical IoT requires near-100% connectivity. But due to the issues above, it’s estimated that only 16% of enterprises are achieving more than 95% connectivity, according to our recent State of IoT Adoption report. 

Internet forums are peppered with threads of enterprise IoT managers complaining about terrible pricing, bad management platforms, and lousy customer service in general. Even if network coverage is adequate, there are plenty more factors that make up the experience, and we see above just how difficult it is to take your business elsewhere in some cases. A good IoT connectivity provider will actually make that process painless, and will aim to retain customers on merit, working with them to keep their business.  

In nearly all IoT deployment scenarios, cost is an important aspect when choosing a connectivity provider, but 71% of respondents to the State of IoT Adoption survey admitted that cheap commodity data providers aren’t a good investment.  

It seems clear that while most companies working on IoT initiatives have been burned by cheap connectivity providers in the past, there is a reluctant acceptance of the status-quo. In a way, this seems unsurprising given that telecoms and connectivity providers historically have been tarred with the same reputational brush. The reality however is that technological developments have given way to innovations that enable differentiation.  

This is supported by the fact that 89% of survey respondents agreed that an end-to-end IoT services program delivered by a single provider would be beneficial to their business. 

So, let’s look at the potential benefits to be gained by switching IoT connectivity provider.  

For large-scale international deployments or mobile IoT initiatives, guaranteeing connectivity no matter the geographical location comes down to localization options. The most effective approach here is to partner with a specialist MVNO that has agreements with cellular operators in all the regions you intend to deploy, and is able to offer local connectivity provider profiles via the SIM.  

By avoiding roaming, this makes localized multi-IMSI, eSIMs, and iSIMs the most effective approach to avoiding high roaming charges, latency issues (when a device is roaming, data is backhauled to the home network), and disconnection threats due to permanent roaming infringements, or even relationship breakdown and commercial fallouts. 

Another key component of guaranteed uptime is linked to the SLA (Service Level Agreement) your connectivity provider is willing to sign (if at all). The nature of global network connectivity means network operators rely on interconnect agreements with each other, and this means they have less control over customer traffic on some parts of its journey. This introduces a reluctance to sign overall SLAs with customers.  

As a specialist IoT MVNO, we are confident in our network performance and are willing to sign up to strict connectivity SLAs. We’re one the few providers to sign up to strict connectivity SLAs to ensure that you meet your commitments to your customers. You can expect minimal downtime and guaranteed performance with us by your side.  

We have a commitment to delivering greater than 99.6% global connectivity, providing access to 700+ networks across 190+ countries. Our direct and roaming AnyNet interconnection agreements provide deep integration with more than 25 MNOs to enable advanced connectivity optimization and eSIM capabilities, delivering localization around the globe for unparalleled coverage and uptime.  

With modern eSIMs, switching from one IoT connectivity service provider to another no longer requires the physical SIM to be swapped out, instead a new SIM profile can be activated over-the-air. This means you are no longer locked-in to a single provider, and in the case of Tier 1 IoT MVNOs like Eseye, end-to-end professional services across the entire spectrum of your IoT project development can help you onboard a new connectivity provider with ease, ensuring your IoT project is delivered to the market on time and on budget. 

Eseye’s Infinity centralized device management platform provides comprehensive device-level control for remote monitoring, firmware updates, and data analytics, meaning you can manage an entire fleet of IoT devices deployed worldwide from a single centralized platform. 

A final deal breaker when it comes to choosing your next IoT connectivity provider, or switching away from one you’re unhappy with, is the overall experience and level of customer support. IoT initiatives are fraught with challenges and there is a lot to be said for having access to expert professional services in overcoming these obstacles and ensuring timely project delivery, especially when your MVNO partner comes to onboarding new connectivity providers (MNOs) to help make your project a success. 

We deliver rapid technical troubleshooting and out-of-hours support to guarantee priority resolution, minimal downtime and maximize performance of your IoT devices.

Switching to a new connectivity provider may have some challenges, depending on the type of SIM used in your existing IoT deployment: 

  • Traditional SIM (cards) 

But if you already use eSIM – also referred to as eUICC – or are considering it for future deployments, changing to another network provider might be easier than you think.  

Shockingly, Eseye’s 2023 State of IoT Adoption survey found that only 1% of businesses are achieving highly resilient IoT connectivity from their provider.

But based on the approaches above, we believe achieving 98% and above should be the standard.

How can we accept a situation where IoT healthcare devices lose their connection? Or a customer being stranded because they are unable to use an electric vehicle (EV) charger because of defective connectivity?

For enterprises with IoT initiatives, there is the potential to lose millions of dollars in revenue, not to mention the impact on brand and reputation. 

When healthcare and pharmaceutical monitoring company AmericanPharma found itself spending increasing amounts of time fixing connection issues due to the poor performance of the local networks its IoT devices relied on, it engaged Eseye to help it achieve global expansion.  

A lack of roaming capability meant coverage for AmericanPharma’s device network was limited to the US, and the system could only operate within the Verizon network. By installing Eseye’s AnyNet+ SIMs (multi-IMSI) into its IoT devices, AmericanPharma was able to eliminate the barriers that had impeded reliable cellular connectivity, and cellular roaming.  

Eseye provided AmericaPharma with access to a choice of more than 700 cellular networks in over 190 countries, setting the company up for an initial expansion into Canada, with eyes on Europe.   

Overcome IoT connectivity challenges

See how you can overcome IoT connectivity challenges on a global scale and solve permanent roaming issues with one SIM, multiple networks, and the option to switch connectivity whenever you like.

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Eseye author


IoT Hardware and Connectivity Specialists


Eseye brings decades of end-to-end expertise to integrate and optimise IoT connectivity delivering near 100% uptime. From idea to implementation and beyond, we deliver lasting value from IoT. Nobody does IoT better.

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