Everything you need to know about SIM cards for GPS trackers

21.4.2023 | Anastasiya Kulish

GPS tracking devices have become increasingly popular in recent years for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons for this is the need for businesses to keep track of their vehicles and other equipment. In order to make this possible, GPS tracking devices require SIM cards. 

In this article, we will discuss the different types of SIM cards that are available, including M2M SIM cards and IoT SIM cards, and why they are necessary for GPS tracking.


🔹SIM cards for GPS-trackers

GPS trackers are used to track the location of various objects, from cars to containers and cargo. They require constant communication with the server to transmit information about location. For this, a SIM card is needed that provides access to the Internet and data transmission. 

There are different types of SIM cards available, including M2M (machine-to-machine) SIM cards and IoT (Internet of Things) SIM cards.

 M2M SIM cards are designed for devices that need to send and receive data across cellular networks. In IoT devices, the M2M SIM may share data directly with other devices and the software that manages the platform.  Therefore, the terms “M2M SIM” and “IoT SIM” are often used interchangeably.

SIM cards have been around since 1991, and their core function has remained the same. The primary function of a SIM card lies in its name: Subscriber Identity Module. The card saves information, which is used to authenticate users and connect the devices to the GSM (Global System of Mobile Communications).


🔹Differences between IoT SIMs and standard mobile SIM cards

One of the main differences between IoT SIMs and standard mobile SIM cards is that these SIMs are durable and can last for years, even in harsh environments. 

They are also remotely manageable and can be activated, controlled, and monitored in bulk, depending on the IoT management platform being used. 

IoT SIMs support data plan aggregations, which helps keep IoT connectivity affordable and cost-effective. Additionally, IoT SIMs may have fixed IP addresses, making them more reliable and secure.

IoT SIM cards can be purchased from many telecommunications operators and various marketplaces, including Amazon, eBay, Aliexpress and Alibaba. IoT SIM card providers also have their own online stores where you can purchase their products.

Some GPS tracker sellers offer devices that come with an IoT SIM card already inserted. This can be convenient for buyers who want a ready-to-use GPS tracking solution.


🔹Access Point Name (APN)

Access Point Name (APN) is a middleman between a particular network and the gps-trackers trying to connect to it, adding a layer of security to the devices on your network. 

For a GPS tracker, it is necessary to configure APN correctly to connect it to the server and transmit location information. Each telecommunications operator has its own APN settings that must be configured for the device to work properly.

The tracker is usually configured using SMS commands specified in the tracker guide. The commands are sent to the number of the SIM card used with the tracker. Most often, the guide to configuring the tracker is provided with the device. You can also request it from the seller or the manufacturer of your GPS tracker.

Find all the necessary information about the configuration of your GPS tracker on the GPS-Trace website.


Possible problems with APN settings when crossing the border of another country

When a GPS tracker crosses the border of another country, problems with APN settings may arise. This is because the APN settings of the telecommunications operator in the new country may differ from those in the home country. In such cases, it is necessary to reconfigure the APN settings to ensure that the GPS tracker continues to work properly. It is important to note that roaming charges may apply when using SIM cards in other countries, so it is recommended to check the pricing plans of the telecommunications operator beforehand.


By understanding the importance of SIM cards and APN networks, you can ensure that your GPS tracking device is set up correctly and transmitting data accurately.


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