Tech Tips #3: What is the difference between a Global SIM and a Local SIM?
24 May 2023

Tech Tips #3: What is the difference between a Global SIM and a Local SIM?

24 May 2023

When searching for a service provider that can meet your roaming needs, you may encounter the term “Global SIM”. What is this and how does it differ from what we might understand as a Local SIM? And, how can it benefit you and your business? The short answer is that a Global SIM enables connectivity to a wider range of networks. In turn, that can deliver significant cost savings.

All SIMs contain information that relates to the connectivity that they can enable. Among other data, this includes the IMSI – the International Mobile Subscriber Identity. This is a unique reference that identifies each subscription. Crucially, it also identifies the mobile operator to which the user is subscribed.

The IMSI and roaming

The IMSI allows a device to connect to a particular – and limited - set of networks in the home country and when roaming. A Local SIM is one that is obtained from a national mobile network operator (MNO) – one in France, or Germany, for example. When roaming, the device will be able to connect to any network with which the parent operator (the one for which the user has a subscription) has a roaming agreement – but only those.

So, with a Local SIM, you can only connect to the networks with which your primary service provider has a relationship. However, in some parts of the visited countries, other networks might be available, with better service and lower costs. So, a Local SIM can be limiting in terms of network availability – and, perhaps more importantly, price. That’s because your MNO will have pricing agreements with its partners, and you won’t have any way to reduce those fixed costs.

How multiple IMSIs unlock cost-effective global roaming

Since the IMSI basically controls your network connectivity – and, ultimately limits options, the way to broaden the options for connecting to different networks, is for the SIM to support multiple IMSIs. A different IMSI can unlock a different set of connectivity options and a different range of pricing agreements.

If your service provider offers multiple IMSIs, they can ensure you connect to a wider range of networks and benefit from different pricing agreements they maintain on your behalf. A Local SIM will not enable this, because they cannot typically support the multiple IMSIs necessary for truly cost-effective global roaming.

How can I get another IMSI?

As an individual subscriber – or a business with multiple subscriptions – you can’t obtain extra IMSIs directly. They can only be enabled via a service provider with the right agreements in place. And, you also need a SIM that can support multiple IMSIs.

In a nutshell, that’s what a Global SIM gives you. A Global SIM will typically support multiple IMSIs which expands the number of networks available across visited countries and enables connectivity to the best option, with the best prices.

How eSIM helps

Global SIMs have been available for a number of years. However, they typically required the user to physically replace the SIM from the primary MNO with the Global SIM, usually on a temporary basis.

With eSIM, however, that’s no longer necessary, as the Global SIM can be loaded onto a compatible device and the user can control which is active – so, they can switch to the Global SIM when travelling, while retaining the primary SIM for other occasions. Alternatively, for IoT applications and devices, they can use the Global SIM to ensure cost effective coverage for any country in which they wish to deploy.

Global SIMs from Telecom26

Telecom26 is a global mobile service provider that has built an unrivalled portfolio of network and IMSI agreements with MNOs around the world. Because we have multiple IMSI relationships, Telecom26 can offer wider coverage and more cost-effective connectivity rates for many countries that traditional MNOs cannot easily reach.

This is particularly important for inter-continental travel or deployments, as an MNO in your home country in Europe is unlikely to be able to give you both optimum connectivity and pricing in Asia as well as Africa, for example.

Both eSIM and traditional SIM formats are available, so individual users can swap SIM profiles, when they need, or configure IoT devices with the Global SIM and connect wherever they are shipped.

We provide flexible bundles and packages that allow your business to choose the right coverage for your needs – and we also support an extensive range of add-ons to tailor specific features of your connectivity. So, you can choose the best connectivity options for your needs and escape the limitations of Local SIMs.

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