IoT Device Implementation Guide

Design for Subscription Containers

Last Updated: July 3rd, 2024

All SIMs include an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number which acts as a globally unique ID that a network uses for deciding whether or not to allow a device to connect, determining how data should be routed, and keeping track of data usage.

While that’s very much the case for Soracom IoT SIMs, Soracom also provides a feature called Subscription Containers that allows Soracom SIMs to have multiple IMSIs and automatically switch between them where advantageous.

Having a second or third IMSI can allow a device to connect to more networks in more countries, to switch to cheaper networks when available, or to fall back to networks provided by a different IMSI when the networks covered by one IMSI are unavailable.

When leveraging Soracom Subscription Containers for these benefits, IoT Devices should be designed according to the Over-The-Air (OTA) mechanism that the Subscription Container feature uses for remotely installing and managing IMSIs.

As the OTA procedure may take several minutes to complete, a device that is designed to disconnect from the network or shut down too quickly will be unable to fully receive the OTA, and as a result the procedure may take several days or may even fail, leaving the device stuck with only the original IMSI available.

Implementing a suitable OTA mechanism is recommended, such as sending a command to the device to instruct it to remain powered on for a longer duration (a minimum of 5 minutes is recommended for a Subscription Container installation procedure to complete) whenever an OTA is required.

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