Hi all, I thought I would give a quick update concerning the use of third party sims with the particle electron. After doing a fair amount of research, I am pretty convinced that Truphone’s International Sim is a shoe-in for the IoT world. This is based on a few factors. The Truphone sim is a pay-as-you-go style sim card, except unlike the vast majority of pay-as-you-go providers, your balance never expires!! As long as the sim card is used at least once every few months (ie turn on your electron), your balance will stay active! Secondly, the going rate for Truphone data is 0.09 cents/MB, which is relatively standard, but is billed out to the nearest 1 KB, a much higher resolution than most pay-as-you-go providers. Thirdly, it uses AT&T network here in the US, which was critical for my application seeing that I am in a relatively remote area and AT&T has by far the best coverage here. Fourthly, You can see your day-by-day data usage and the amount billed on your Truphone account, a nicety that is often lacking in smaller MVNO network websites.
The truphone international sim initial cost is a little steep however. It is $30 dollars to purchase the sim, and it comes with $15 dollars pre-loaded to your account.
Now the one gripe I have, which I am not positive if its a Truphone network issue, or possibly a hardware issue. When I am running my particle electron with the Truphone sim, every 24 minutes my electron disconnects from the the cell tower, loses its data connection, but then immediately reconnects and re-establishes connection, regardless of how much data I have transmitted in that timeframe. From an application functionality standpoint, this is not a real big deal. But the overhead in data usage this causes is a little annoying. If I have my electron running all day, connected to blynk server with a 10 minute heartbeat, and zero additional traffic pushed to or from the hardware, I still use approximately 300 KB per day, which I believe is all the data it takes to talk to the cell network every 24 minutes and re-establish connections with the cell tower and then with the blynk server.
So currently, my typical daily charge pushing data every 10 minutes is $0.04. So even with the relatively large background data usage, I would expect to get approximately 375 days of usage from the initial $15 charge (which actually cost $30 dollars the first time). Still beats the particle going rate and you get WAY more data (167 MB per $15 charge used at your own discretion as compared to Particle’s 1MB/month for $3)