More businesses than ever are turning to IoT to improve workflow productivity, cut costs, and better connect systems and users. How can business owners and decision-makers get more while spending less on their IoT initiatives? Here we talk about saving costs on your IoT data plan.
New sources of business productivity have been uncovered thanks to the emergence of increasingly sophisticated connected devices. The entry of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology into industries as diverse as healthcare and facilities management has changed the ways in which we do business, with over 12 billion IoT devices in operation today amounting to a value of roughly $5 trillion.
With the emergence of this new technology, the discussion always revolves around what businesses can do with it and how it can help reduce operational costs. Answering both questions requires an understanding of the IoT data plans you have at your disposal and the goals you hope to achieve. Here are a few key elements of choosing the right plan so that you can get more and spend less on your IoT program.
1. Choose low-cost data network plans.
IoT devices usually use small amounts of data. However, they generate a lot of signals on the operator’s network. This means it is tough to know or guess the actual data usage of your IoT devices. We recommend that you select a “pay as you use” plan. Remember to hard-cap your SIM cards so that your bill doesn’t go beyond a predetermined limit.
Most IoT SIM cards allow you to subscribe to a fixed amount of data per month, which is great for volume and usage control. You should also look at data pooling (or data sharing), a popular subscription method. With pooling, you can have flexible and fixed plans that allow you to ‘share’ data across your program based on need. The flexible pool works great for growing businesses while the fixed pool is tailored for companies with a stable IoT deployment that generates a lot of traffic. The nature of your business must be kept in mind before deciding on the type of plan you should choose, and pooling and fixed plans help here.
2. Avoid monthly fixed fees per SIM.
To get more out of your IoT data plan at a lower cost, avoid signing up with an operator that charges fixed monthly fees per SIM. Some operators and networks do this but it does not favor the end-user – especially since many of your devices may lie dormant at times and you should not have to pay upkeep costs for devices that are not in use.
3. Optimize your rate plans.
In most cases, rate plans are either underused or overused by the end–user. When you overuse your plan, you will face an overage fee that is usually a lot higher than any plan price for a similar period or a similar data usage limit.
When it comes to IoT projects, it can be challenging to predict your data usage. Factors such as scaling, seasonality, business growth, and more all come into play. For example, retail IoT applications tend to use ten times their average data load during the holiday period. Signing a contract for a permanent data plan at a particular rate would be inefficient over a year since retailers will either underuse or overuse their data limits at different times.
Most IoT systems periodically send small amounts of data for specific events such as asset tracking and remote monitoring. If your data usage is over your average usage at any point, your average cost can be substantial. In such scenarios, it is better to use a flexible data plan that gives you access to the resources you need as you need them. If you have the option to expand or shrink your data usage without additional costs, you will be able to focus on scaling your operations while worrying less about the cost it takes to do so.
Some IoT network operators provide solutions that proactively monitor the customer’s data consumption, allowing the customer to optimize their rate plans against their actual monthly data usage. With such a solution, a customer will never face an overage bill or underutilize their data usage and pay more for resources they did not need. Be sure to choose an operator that offers such a solution to help you monitor and optimize your rate plan.
4. Take roaming into account.
Many businesses make the mistake of ignoring roaming when choosing their IoT data plan. Companies that use IoT for mobile devices such as automobiles, trailers, containers, vehicle fleets, and others must consider the location in the country or the part of the world to which their devices will travel. If you know that you are deploying IoT for moving devices, your operator should allow you to assign the best rate plan available to your SIM cards based on the location of the SIM. This way, you won’t have to spend extra in terms of roaming costs on your devices.
This so-called Russian-doll model is available with many operators. It is a rate plan that allows you to switch to a different rate whenever your devices travel to a lower-cost region. This way, as a business owner, you won’t have to pay overage fees when your devices travel to areas with cheaper connectivity. Still, be careful when working with cheaper networks. You must ensure that the network that your traffic is steered to doesn’t have issues such as lost connectivity, zero-byte sessions, latency, or no coverage. While you look for ways to spend less on your IoT data plan, make sure you choose a network with zero latency and no loss of connectivity.
Though IoT projects can meaningfully contribute to a business’ savings and efficiency, high data rates often prevent them from making financial sense. Organizations must balance the benefits they reap from deploying IoT on their networks and the money they spend on data either monthly or annually. It can be difficult to determine your average data usage on IoT solutions per month – especially with a new project or for deployments in new verticals – so the tips above can help you minimize costs without negatively affecting the efficacy of your IoT devices or your business network.
Kajeet’s Solutions Engineers can help you design and deploy IoT services based on your needs and within your desired budget. Contact us today to learn more and get started.