Guide on buying SIM data
We are frequently asked if you can use SIM cards from other providers in our Meridian equipment. The answer is YES, absolutely. We do not tie you to using our SIM data. We do our best to find the best offer for SIMs for our clients without sacrificing on quality, but we always support our clients if they choose another provider.
At times, we even encourage our clients to use data by other providers if we do not have the best offer at the time.
As SIM data is like fuel for a car, I would like to share this guidance on how to choose the best SIM data plan. So you can make an informed decision and purchase “good fuel” while knowing the real cost.
First and foremost, if you are offered an unlimited plan – ask for full disclosure and read the small font. Most unlimited plans get throttled at some threshold. Unfortunately, wording in small font differs to confuse everyone further. For example, you may see “fair usage policy applies”, or “subject to network management” and so on. In general, unless the provider actually buys large chunks of data (like we do in Europe) and sells “unlimited plans” hoping not to lose money on a mixed calculation, no plan is truly unlimited.
Other plans sold as packages – lets take SIM data in the Bahamas as a case study.
You may see a data plan “300GB for $350 in the Bahamas per month”. On paper, that means $1.16 / GB. Now, if you used 250GB then you paid $1.4 per GB.
However, if you used only 100GB as the Boss decided to leave the Bahamas and didn’t come back the same month your real cost is $3.5 / GB.
Data in the Bahamas is relatively cheap (compared to the Caribbean). The complexity comes as there are two networks in the Bahamas, and what we see happen quite frequently is that in some areas there is only Alive coverage, and in some BTC only.
So now you have to check whether that plan for the Bahamas for $350 covers both of those networks. If it doesn’t, you would have to either purchase another card for $350 to get you covered on the second network, or have spotty coverage as you can’t connect to both networks.
In this example you will probably need to buy a separate card for Alive. So if you used 100GB and paid $700 for both networks per month your real cost was $7/GB.
There are plans out there that offer one card that works on all networks as native. It is called a virtual SIM. In the above example, such card would work on both Alive and BTC. In the area where BTC is better the card will appear as native BTC card to the BTC network, and vise verse.
Usually, the provider would charge a higher price for such a card but that comes with added benefits of not having to change cards between countries, deal with complex calculations while allowing more predictable data costs.
Questions to ask before you buy
Here are some questions you may want to ask before committing to a data plan with any provider:
· Are all networks in the region you are buying data for covered?
· If that is a package (like 300GB) – how many cards are included? Can you add additional cards to use this package and will that create extra cost?
· Is there an annual commitment for any fee or any other minimum commitment?
· Does the card work on 5G (not all cards’ contracts allow access to 5G even in areas where it is already available).