Local vs. Roaming Profile: What to Choose?

Local vs. Roaming Profile: What to Choose?

There are several factors when it comes to choosing between local and roaming profiles - latency, the number of providers, and device compatibility.


One of the most important differences between local and roaming profiles is the amount of time it takes for data to be transmitted and subsequently received.

When looking at a suitable solution you need to know what the results need to be. For example, if have a self-driving car, which is something that needs to be accurate by the millisecond, a small delay in sending the data – or in other words latency – will affect the way the car is able to respond resulting in disastrous errors.

Picking a local card in this case with a certain band frequency is a must. This will ensure that the car will accurately have the information it needs to function and drive safely and correctly. The same goes for an IoT sensor. If you have a roaming SIM that is placed in an IoT sensor, the possibility of it sending the data late to the server is big. This could cause a problem within your program, as a small delay could mean that the behaviour of the device differs from what you originally set it up to do.

In another example, we had a farm IoT company that used sensors to monitor livestock and control the temperature based on the surroundings of the livestock barn. One of the functions was monitoring the humidity within the barn in order to maintain the temperature at a certain level. During testing, we noticed that there was a delay in receiving data causing the device to respond in a different manner than what it was supposed to. It constantly changed the temperature, as it was getting delayed information and handling it as if it were real-time information. So instead of the device seeing that it was a temporary alteration in the surroundings, it thought that the temperature was being cooled down for 30 minutes causing the device to turn on the heat in the barn and then immediately cooling it down when it received the next batch of data.

Multiple Providers

But there are also other situations where a roaming SIM better serves the application need.  You can use roaming for anything that does not require data in real time with very low latency. A roaming profile allows you to have multiple providers in one area to ensure you always have a back-up. This is often the case with high-data use like when you have a cloud system that stores the information.

For example, we had a case where we needed to facilitate 930 stores with a backup solution, but they wanted to have everything done in one data pool and have multiple providers. Using a roaming profile allowed them to always have a different provider to fall back on if one wasn’t performing well. In this case it was only used as a backup, which didn’t need to have any local profile, as it would rarely be used. Then information that it did send was meant for e-mails and other business-related activities, so a small delay in sending data didn’t matter. But the biggest reason a roaming profile was preferable is that they wanted to have one data pool that facilitated all SIM cards across 7 countries. The roaming profile in this case was the best option cost wise and monitoring wise as they could monitor all the SIMs via one portal and share a data bundle from one data pool.


There are multiple situations when picking a local or a roaming SIM, but sometimes the hardware is the determining factor. There are devices that are just not able to function properly on a roaming SIM. This is due to the manufacturer having certain requirements to have the device function properly. You can see it as the old school way of what telecom providers used to do when they sold a phone. They would lock the phone so that you could only use their SIM and if you tried anything else it wouldn’t function at all.

We ran into this problem when we partnered with a security company that was selling a Jabatron security system. The device that they were selling needed a local SIM. The reasoning for this was that the device needed to communicate with the local police department to send a ping signal to alert officers that there was activity taking place. At first when we inserted a roaming SIM the device worked but it stopped when it tried to send out a signal – not practical when the whole purpose was to send out the signal, alerting that there was activity taking place. The only choice the customer had in this case was to use a local SIM, so that the device could function properly.

To Sum Up

These are the main headlines when you are looking into a local or a roaming SIM. The choice of it needing lower latency, multiple providers, one monitoring system or even just so that the device can function properly plays a vital role within the decision.  We can help with this and use our experience and knowledge to guide you to the best solution. Just make sure to take the time before picking before picking your plan so that you don’t face major disruption to your business plans.