Dangers of Shopper SIM playing cards for drone operations

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SIM card for drone operations

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Working sUAS on cellular networks is nice – however what’s the appropriate SIM card for drone operations?   The Case for IoT SIM playing cards.

A latest report by Verizon and the FAA signifies that cellular connectivity is a legitimate and fascinating type of management over drones and UAVs. A paper by Ericsson from 2019 explores the subject and addresses the necessities wanted to help drone operations.  Drone connectivity consultants Elsight agree, on this position paper.

The usage of cellular networks for drone C2 is nice for the trade, because it doesn’t require a complete new infrastructure.  Business drone operators utilizing cellular connectivity for command and management want to make sure they’ve the appropriate instruments to make sure connectivity and make it work, together with the appropriate SIM card.

Customary client SIM playing cards are cheaper and have larger connection speeds and decrease latency.  Shopper SIM playing cards even have limitations on information and could possibly be dangerous for business drone ops.  IoT SIM playing cards – designed for business and industrial use – may be a safer guess.

What’s an IoT SIM card – and What’s the Distinction?

An IoT SIM card is a variation of the SIM playing cards that are utilized in smartphones and different cellular gadgets.  It contains extra options tailor-made particularly for IoT gadgets and has better sturdiness, safety, and suppleness. Whereas client SIM playing cards are typically activated and operated on a person foundation, IoT SIMs should have the ability to be remotely managed and have the ability to be operated and activated in bulk. IoT SIM playing cards are constructed to outlive in additional “industrial” circumstances that ordinary SIMs received’t be anticipated to come across, together with excessive and low temperatures, sturdy winds, rain and snow, and extra.

That may make IoT SIM playing cards seem to be an apparent selection, however client SIM playing cards do include some benefits: for client use, they provide decrease latency and better connection speeds, visitors precedence, and the flexibility to ship voice in addition to information.  IoT SIM playing cards are additionally dearer than client SIM playing cards.

(This text from Technology for Learners offers extra info: this piece from Hologram.io (a vendor) additionally does an honest job laying out variations.)

The Dangers of Shopper SIM playing cards: Regulatory limits

The most important downside with client SIM playing cards is that in nearly all instances, utilizing a client SIM for an IoT system doubtless violates the cellular community operator (MNO) phrases and circumstances concerning use of the SIM card.  That’s a danger for business operators, as an MNO may determine to shut the account and even impose fines.  That’s a major danger for business operators: it might require grounding the fleet till a brand new contract is procured and all SIM playing cards are changed.

The community operator is just not the one get together who could trigger an issue.  The FCC hasn’t but authorized use of economic wi-fi to help UAS operations. Companies who use a client SIM card for drone operations as an alternative of an IoT SIM can danger enforcement motion on the FCC – together with their MNO.

Bodily SIM card limitations

Along with regulatory points, IoT SIM playing cards are extra rugged and sturdy than client SIM playing cards – which signifies that IoT playing cards are extra capable of stand up to all kinds of flight circumstances.  IoT SIM playing cards can function in temperatures starting from -40°C to 105°C (-40°F to 221°F), and provide elevated resistance to corrosion. IoT SIM playing cards will be anticipated to function optimally even when encountering sturdy winds, intense vibrations, extreme motion, rain and humidity, all issues which one can count on to happen throughout common drone operations.


Lastly, there’s the difficulty of knowledge.  Numerous information.  The vast majority of client information plans include a restrict on how a lot information you should use: as soon as that restrict is reached the information speeds are severely slowed down, generally known as “throttling”.   Most shoppers don’t have to fret about throttling, as a result of they a) often don’t attain their information limits and b) have the flexibility to complement their information utilization with Wi-Fi to restrict the usage of their information plans.  Drones would not have these choices. As soon as a drone reaches the information restrict and encounters throttling, this could severely impact drone connectivity and endanger the drone.

A large information plan would possibly assist, however that’s an costly proposition.  Shopper information plans aren’t typically designed for business drone operations.

Whereas the temptation to make use of a client SIM card is comprehensible as a result of low latency and excessive connection speeds accessible to the buyer market, the downsides and potential ramifications of utilizing a client SIM make an IoT SIM card a safer selection for scalable – and dependable – business drone operations.

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