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What Is the Difference Between No Steering IoT SIM Cards and Steered Domestic IoT SIM Cards in the USA?

A comparison of OneSimCard IoT, AT&T and Verizon

We are often asked about the difference between Steered Domestic IoT SIM cards and our International Roaming No Steering IoT SIM cards. To answer this question, it is best to start with the basics and talk about what Steering is in terms of cellular connectivity. In the USA, and many other countries, most carriers include domestic roaming at no charge to their customers, but the networks charge each other for using each other’s networks.  Carriers, for obvious financial reasons, always want you to be on their network because if you use a different network, this incurs roaming charges. 

To prevent your IoT SIM cards from roaming, carriers “steer” your traffic to their network first, even if there is very little coverage. If there is no coverage, they will allow your traffic on other networks, but this is steered to the least expensive network first; they employ a Preferred Roaming List (or PRL) to prioritize certain roaming networks over others.

A No Steering SIM card works much differently. These allow the device to make the decision as to which network the SIM should use. The decision criteria can be different depending on the device, but most devices use signal strength (RSSI value) as the determining factor, favoring the highest signal strength first.

What’s the big deal? When a SIM is in poor coverage, the data speeds decrease significantly, and the chance of incomplete data sessions increases. Then if there is a PRL in place, the device will scroll through the list of providers in the order of prioritization, which can delay the establishment of a connection. IoT deployments require reliable, ubiquitous connections to succeed. No Steering IoT SIM cards are uniquely positioned to provide this, but Steered SIMs can fall short.

No Steering SIMs cards probably cost more, right? NO! Let’s compare OneSimCard IoT No Steering SIMs to AT&T and Verizon’s steered domestic SIMs.* We are using these 2 networks since they tout having the best coverage and reliability. To do a comparison, let’s say there are 500 SIM cards and each SIM card requires 50MB of data in a shared/pooled data. 

Let’s take a look at AT&T. They offer different SIM cards and plans including just the USA, USA/Canada/Mexico (N. America) and International. AT&T also differentiates their plans by low power (CAT M/M1 & NB-IoT) & full LTE. AT&T steers their traffic and has a PRL when roaming, keeping your devices on their network all the way down to zero coverage and then switching you to the cheapest roaming networks first. Their pooled plans limit the number of SIMs allowed on a pooled plan to 500. 

Verizon has even more limited plans for IoT SIM cards. The only offering we can find is CatM/M1 or NB-IoT. They only offer Steered SIMs. They are more flexible with the number of SIM cards you can put onto a pooled plan because they have no limits. With data speeds limited to only Cat M/M1 or NB-IoT, high data consuming solutions can be severely impaired. 

OneSimCard’s IoT SIM cards work much differently. We offer a SIM card that is multi-carrier & multi-IMSI. In the USA we operate on T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizion on the single SIM and single APN. OneSimCard IoT also operates in over 160 countries with access to over 400 networks on the same SIM card. We never “Steer” data traffic like native AT&T or Verizon SIMs. Having the ability to connect to multiple networks on the same SIM builds in redundancy and ubiquity, allowing the device to choose the best network.

We are able to roam on 2G/3G/4G (Cat M/M1 or full LTE) and 5G networks. Our plans are 100% customized to the particular client and are extremely flexible. Whether you need 0.5MB or 1000TB and everything in between, we will accommodate.

So how do the plans compare:


As you can see OneSimCard is the clear winner for functionality and cost. We use their networks plus T-Mobile on the single SIM and still save over 60%. Even more interesting is OneSimCard’s cost includes access to 76 countries, where AT&T and Verizon only include USA. AT&T and Verizon will charge you more to roam internationally. OneSimCard’s flexible plans are the winner for most solutions.

Some of the solutions we cater to include:

  • Fleet Management/ AVL/EDL
  • Connected Vehicle
  • Asset Tracking
  • Signage
  • AgTech
  • Telemedicine
  • Smart Cities

Our clients also benefit from our cloud-based OSCAR IoT SIM card management platform. This single pane of glass allows you to manage your international deployment. Because we built our own platform, we can also make changes to it very quickly. This offers even more flexibility to our clients because their feedback is listened to and we make changes to the platform based on that feedback. There is also an Android and IoS App for the OSCAR platform.

We would love to hear from you if you want to see the difference OneSimCard IoT can bring to your organization. Please get in touch with us. We will be glad to discuss your particular needs and develop a testing protocol for your organization.


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