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Do you know what to look for when choosing an IoT data plan? There are a few important criteria that you must consider when selecting the best plan for your business. Whether you are just getting started with your IoT deployments or you already have thousands of connections installed, you can use the list below to make sure that you are getting the most out of your IoT data plan.

10 Things You Need in an IoT Provider

1. Optimized Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Different types of IoT deployments require different types of data plans, so one-size-fits-all pricing and billing don’t offer flexibility for a scaling IoT deployment. While sometimes you may only need a data plan, some specialized applications may require alarms to be sent over SMS or even voice. Look for a provider that optimizes TCO by matching cash outlays with your customer payment receipts. Ideally, you’ll want a partner that owns its core network and can offer enhanced solutions (e.g., single SKU via multi-IMSI, local breakouts, enhanced remote monitoring and troubleshooting tools), tailor-made billing schemes and IoT data packages from short bursts to large broadband files for all different cellular data types. The partner you choose should also offer embedded SIM and software solutions to remove operational overhead and automated data plan optimization to improve operational efficiency and avoid bill shock.

2. 2G, 3G, 4G LTE, LPWAN and 5G Mobile Broadband Packages

Another thing to look for when choosing an IoT data provider is the ability to accommodate both your new and legacy devices. While some operators may be phasing out their different generation networks, you need to find a provider with future-proof technology solutions that seamlessly support 2G, 3G, 4G, Cat M, NB-IoT and 5G standards.

3. Global Coverage on Tier 1 Mobile Networks

The last thing that you want is spotty network coverage. Downtime and coverage gaps cost you money and reduce customer confidence in your product. Find a provider that offers future-proof, ready-to-scale infrastructure and global coverage with an improved footprint, multi-IMSI donors and multiple carriers on established Tier 1 networks with reliability and redundancy. These mobile networks are secure, reliable and scalable, offering dependable coverage in rural and urban areas. An ideal IoT partner will have global solutions beyond regional benefits with a local foothold worldwide.

4. Seamless Roaming across Networks and Regions

Solution providers frequently find themselves branching out into additional geographies as they grow their business. If you are tracking mobile assets, you’ll need a network provider that will follow you anywhere. Look for an IoT data provider that will allow you to expand at will and seamlessly integrate multiple carriers’ networks to ensure you don’t lose service as you move across different regions. An ideal connectivity partner offers global connections and local solutions, improving performance with local breakouts, local numbering and dedicated roaming agreements.

5. Multilayer Security Infrastructure and VPN Connections

Your globally deployed IoT devices are going to be transacting in small or large blocks of data. Security is a top concern for most modern businesses, and it should also be something you consider when choosing an IoT data plan provider. Ensure that your provider offers a multilayer network, routing and transport security, and fast implementation of customizable VPN and APN access solutions. Also, look for georedundant 24/7 monitoring and control as well as network operations center (NOC) support.

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6. Simple Agreements, Predictable Pricing and No Hidden Fees

Sorting through bills and managing connectivity costs can become time-consuming, not to mention confusing. If you want a hassle-free payment experience, partner with an IoT data plan provider that offers simple agreements with predictable pricing and does not charge hidden fees for roaming or unexpected data overages. The right IoT partner can allocate the most suitable data plan per device, allowing you to focus on growing your business.

7. Multidisciplinary 24/7 Support by Dedicated IoT Experts and Account Teams

Critical events can happen at any time. It’s essential to work with an operator equipped to offer 24/7 support from state-of-the-art NOC and tech support hubs across time zones and geographies. This assistance will provide more visibility and better control for faster problem identification and resolution to keep your IoT deployments up and running around the clock. Work with a provider that will provide you with a dedicated account team and a single point of contact devoted to helping you grow your business.

8. Connectivity and Device Management with Built-In Provisioning and Analysis

Managing the connections and devices of your IoT deployment can be time-consuming and costly. You need a provider that can give you the tools to confidently manage your devices and connectivity, whether your devices are on one local network or connected globally over different networks and wireless protocols. Check to make sure you can manage and analyze all your connections from a single intuitive interface, with zero-touch onboarding, remote provisioning and configuration, monitoring, and troubleshooting. Having these capabilities in one place will allow you to optimize performance and control costs for your deployments more effectively.

To get the most out of your IoT data plan, you need to understand your network’s health and adjust pricing plans retroactively. That’s why you want to look for a partner that provides self-care subscriptions, life cycle management, real-time diagnostics and usage controls that will allow you to auto-manage your data plans.

9. Integrated Cloud-Based Application Enablement Platform

Connecting your “things” to apps should be easy. That’s why you should look for an IoT solution that allows you to manage both connectivity and application development from a single, intuitive web-based interface. With an integrated cloud-based application enablement platform, you can manage connectivity, data collection, storage and integration through built-in dashboards, simple APIs for mobile and web-based apps, and enterprise systems for big-data analytics.

10. Leading, Future-Proof and Specialized IoT Service Provider

If you want your IoT data plan to keep performing well for your deployment’s entire life cycle, make sure your service provider is from the IoT space. Leading IoT partners have the experience and resources to enable your deployment while providing the critical infrastructure and support to help you scale and grow your business.

Is your IoT data plan disappointing you as your deployment scales? Telit has the perfect plan for you, whether you want to convert your existing IoT deployments or get started with a few connections. Start your connectivity trial today to see the difference that Telit can make.

Editor’s Note: This post was first published on 13 July 2017 and has since been updated.