What Is Data Pooling?


Quick definition: For consumer phones data pool contracts provide an amount of data that can be shared between different devices (e.g. tablet and phones, family members or employees of a corporation). This is particularly useful because of the combination of different phone plans into one - which simplifies billing and evens out different data consumption of the different devices.

In the Internet of Things, data pooling allows manufacturers to have a data allowance for all their devices, rather than paying per device and needing to pay additionally for devices that exceed the data per device.

At emnify, you only have to pay for active IoT SIM cards. It’s the secret to our usage-based pricing model. When a SIM is inactive, it’s not using data. If we charged IoT manufacturers for a fixed amount of data per SIM every month, there could be thousands of inactive devices that used no data but still incurred costs.

Additionally, some active SIMs will consume significantly more data than others. A temporary increase in device usage or data-intensive processes like remote firmware updates or Over-the-Air (OTA) provisioning would cause some devices to use far more than their monthly limit. With data pooling, these differences don’t cause your costs to fluctuate, and you don’t have to worry about devices running out of data.

Why data pooling is ideal for IoT

Without data pooling, you essentially have two problems:

  1. Paying for data you’re not using
  2. Having to pay extra for the data you need

This is the classic dilemma with limited-data cell phone plans, and it’s one reason why shared data plans are so attractive to consumers with more than one device. These plans use data pooling to enable, for example, a family with four smartphones to share a monthly limit of 5-10 GB of data. The family has complete flexibility to decide how the data gets distributed between the four devices. If someone uses more or less data in a given month, it simply affects the data pool available to the other devices on the plan.

emnify’s pricing works similarly, but with one key difference: you’re never paying for a fixed amount of data for specific devices. Your data pool gets bigger as you activate more SIMs automatically. In this way your pool is set up for growth and balances out the consumption of your entire fleet.

As an IoT manufacturer, your data needs can change at a moment’s notice. A customer could go out of business or need fewer devices. A new deployment could exponentially increase the number of active SIMs you have in the field. Thanks to data pooling, all that data shares the same plan. Because no matter how many customers you serve and how many devices you deploy, you’re still one customer to us.

What is an “active” SIM?

An active SIM is one you’ve intentionally activated in the connectivity portal or using emnify’s API. Manufacturers often wait to activate a SIM until the device ships to the customer. This activation can also be done by the “factory test” mode - where the device only goes into active mode after consuming a specific amount of data - which is a little bigger than what the tests in the factory use.

Over the lifetime of your deployments, there could be any number of reasons why you or your customers would want to deactivate a SIM. Perhaps the device is no longer needed, or temporarily out of use. Maybe it was stolen, or otherwise became a security risk.

Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t have to pay for these inactive SIMs. Therefore you can suspend the SIM any time for free on the portal, via API or Zapier - and will not pay any longer.

At emnify, we only charge you for SIMs that are active. Each SIM has a fixed cost per month with some included data volume, similar to how a traditional cellular provider charges customers per line, and then all of your active SIMs share a single pool of data.

Learn more about emnify’s IoT connectivity solution

emnify is a communication platform specifically designed for the Internet of Things. Leveraging cellular connectivity, our platform enables unlimited devices to transmit and receive data anywhere in the world.

Learn more about emnify’s IoT connectivity platform.

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