Despite being a small component of a mobile device, SIM cards play a huge role in the telecommunication industry. It is so popular and integrated into our daily lives that imagining a world without SIM cards is no longer possible. As we moved onwards with our technological advancement, we also improved SIM cards. Today, a SIM card can be a simple electronic chip on the motherboard of a smartphone and still perform the tasks expected of it. But what are these tasks? And how to pick a SIM card that will suit us? These are some questions that we have answered in the following article.
What is a SIM Card?
A SIM Card is a chip that is encased in a plastic case and goes into a mobile device to facilitate communication. It acts as an identification and authentication source for the network carrier, which allows the owner of the SIM card to avail of its services. The SIM enables the mobile device to send and receive radio waves to and from the cellular towers in a manner that can support communication. Hence, it acts as a key to the network of the service carrier and allows users to make calls, send texts, and surf the internet.
How much does it cost?
While the general production costs on a SIM card in recent times are only a few cents per chip, this does not take into consideration the R&D, marketing, campaigning, packaging, transporting, warehousing, and such. But the ultimate price of a SIM card depends on the network carrier that is offering its services via the chip. Furthermore, the country also plays a huge role as it is the one that sells the bandwidth.
SIM Card Features:
Given below are a few distinct functions and features of a SIM card:
First, the SIM card is an important tool for identification. It allows network carriers to identify the customer on their network and help track the service subscription. Even the term SIM, which is an acronym for Subscriber Identification Module, is associated with the identity of a user. And it is why the IMSI installed on the chip is the unique identification factor. Afterward, these IMSIs are assigned custom numbers, which are the phone number or mobile number of the user.
After identification is done, the SIM is further used to authenticate the device with the network provider. The authentication is not meant for the user, per se, but for the device it is installed on. The process is largely based on IMSI and RAND. It is a to-and-fro between the SIM and the network. Only after authentication would the SIM be activated and allowed to avail of the services. However, this authentication is more of a technical nature than legal.
Finally, the SIM allows the device to use the communication network of the service provider. Remember, the SIM is only a chip. It doesn’t have the necessary components to send signals or receive them. But the SIM allows the device to be able to function this way. Only after the SIM has been activated, the mobile can make calls or send texts.
While there is around 256 KB of storage on a SIM card, it contains almost all the necessary data required for the SIM to function, such as the IMSI, IMEI, Unique ID, Ki, etc. However, the SIM Tool Kit or GSM 11.14 Standards also allow developers to create specific applications that can store and or view specific information off of a SIM, such as the contact list or SMS messages.
What to do before buying a SIM Card?
Now, we are going to examine a few factors that would help you determine which SIM to buy.
Network Strength of the Carrier
Before deciding on a SIM, you should first research the network strength of the carrier. Don’t go for the cheapest SIMs or simply get swooned by the attractive plans. But rather find out whether the provider is capable enough of providing uninterrupted service. You should investigate the network strength of the carrier and also find out the actual coverage of the service.
No matter how good a carrier is, if it is unable to offer services where you spend most of your time, then choosing its SIM is not worthwhile. A poor network will not only result in call drops, but also promote internet buffering and other connectivity issues.
The Internet has become an integral part of our lives. And there are still millions of people who rely solely on their carriers for internet services. Hence, internet speed also plays a crucial role when determining which SIM you should buy. With the recent adoption of 5G technology in GSM carriers, internet speed has seen some ground-breaking changes. Thus, we suggest opting for a provider who can offer 5G services in your region.
Also, note that the internet speed varies according to regions and cities, even when you are using services from a particular carrier. Hence, you should ensure your findings by either researching on the web or by contacting the vendor directly.
Price always plays a huge role when one has to buy something. And costlier is not always better. You have to get the most out of the bucks you spend. Thus, the price-to-service ratio should be optimum when choosing a SIM. Even though you find the perfect network provider with the best speed and wide coverage, if the price is too high, it would be better to look for alternatives.
SIM cards have played a huge role in the widespread adoption of mobile devices, and they will continue to do so. However, one can not simply buy a SIM card without proper research. And while SIM cards are all the same, they do align with different network carriers. And it is the carriers who actually influence which SIM one should buy. Although we have already started using e-SIMs in some smartphones that can have multiple carriers, billions of people still buy physical SIM cards. Thus, they should keep these factors in mind before making their purchase.