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The crucial role of the SIM card in a Geotab device

A SIM card might seem like an insignificant part of the hardware that works with your unit, but it plays one of the most crucial roles in ensuring your data gets through to you.
The Geotab device is able to record vehicle information and upload that data to one’s system in an instantaneous manner. However, there are intricate processes that ensure that this data is relayed to your system in order to be accessed as required. Let us explore one of the key components in this process, the SIM card.
The process can be broken down as follows:

  • A unit is installed in a vehicle, with the SIM card already pre-activated with the necessary services to ensure that it will function correctly in the unit.
  • When the vehicle is driving, the Geotab unit records vehicle information such as (but not limited to): trip history, exceptions broken, engine data and fuel consumption, time and arrival at customer zones etc., which is then stored on the Geotab unit.
  • This information is then transmitted via the SIM card, to the nearest cell tower, where it eventually goes onto the network.
  • Because Geotab’s servers are set up to listen for network traffic pertaining to our tracking units, this data is then relayed to our servers.
  • Once the data is on the Geotab servers, this data is then sent to a federation server (servers on which client databases are hosted), which eventually leads to your vehicle data being reflected on the database where your vehicle is hosted.

More simply put: the SIM card ensures that data is transferred from the unit, to the network provider and then to Geotab’s servers.
Now that we’ve explored how a SIM card works in the unit, let’s look at several helpful tips concerning SIM cards:
Can my unit work without a SIM card?
A unit requires three things in order to work successfully: Ignition, GPS and GPRS. Though you may be able to pick up ignition and GPS; without a SIM card you won’t connect to a network and thus GPRS signal cannot be picked up and your data cannot be transmitted out. Thus, the device cannot work without a SIM card.
How often do I need to change my SIM card?
That depends on whether or not your SIM card is faulty. SIM cards generally don’t have a warranty period in which they become faulty after a certain amount of time. That being said the best way to determine if your SIM is faulty, is to arrange a check & repair at the first moment that your unit loses communication, after an extended period of time. A technician can then establish whether or not the SIM is faulty, and simply swap it out for another working SIM.
Do I need to notify Geotab when my vehicle goes cross-border and needs roaming?
Yes, but in the case of having Recovery/Acuity units in your vehicle this is not necessary, as these units already have SIM cards that are pre-assigned with this service as active. However, if you know in advance that your vehicles will be going cross-border on regular basis prior to placing your order, it is best to notify your sales representative so that they can ensure you receive a SIM card that has roaming activated and avoid having to consistently notify Geotab every time a new vehicle is about to go cross-border. It’s important to note that all roaming charges are billed to the client.
How can I pick up if my vehicle doesn’t have Roaming?
The easiest sign is if you notice your vehicle losing communication when it reaches the border, and then regaining communication when it comes back into the country.
Author: Stuart Munien, Sim Card Administrator – GEOTAB AFRICA

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