/ SIM for low but constant data use

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Jamie Wakeham 06 Feb 2020

We've just got a new dog, and I've bought a GPS tracker for her collar an case she ever jumps the garden wall or slips her leash.  It needs a SIM to transmit data (it's a PawFit).

They reckon it'll use about 100MB data a month, possibly even less than that as we'll only be activating it when we take walks.  I'm trying to find the cheapest way to buy the data!  Most 'pay as you go' SIMS now seem to actually be one month contracts, and all their data expires at the end of that month.

The best I can find is Vodafone's PAYG1 SIM, which seems to be an old-fashioned PAYG SIM that you top up with credit whenever you want, but it charges 20p/5MB (I assume it's continuously available so just 4p/MB, and it's not quantised in 5MB chunks).  That'll work out to £4 per month for 100MB (unless 5MB is the lowest amount of data they sell, in which case it'll be 20p/day so £6/month).

Are there any cheaper ways?  I got this model of tracker (as opposed to the subscription type) based on reviews where people said 'I bought a 10GB SIM for a few quid and it lasted all year' but I'm damned if I can find such a deal now!

nickprior 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Does something like this work?

https://www.globalm2msim.com/product/20mb-m2m-data-sim-card/

Googled "low volume data only sim"

tjdodd 06 Feb 2020
Sans-Plan 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

What you ideally need is an M2M or IoT SIM as in the posts above.

What about this ?

https://www.1pmobile.com/index.taf?cookie=hide

EDIT: Just looked at the Pawfit site and its an embedded SIM and they are charging 3.59 a month for 12 months, that included your data etc ??

https://www.pawfit.com/shop/product/Pawfit%202%20Pet%20Tracker.html

Post edited at 13:52
MJAngry 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Anywhere Sim for multi network roaming?

https://anywheresim.com/

Jamie Wakeham 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Cheers, all! 

Richlan - that's the newer model, which comes with the SIM built in.  I went for the older one where you have to fit the SIM yourself - thinking (perhaps foolishly...) that I'd easily be able to beat £3.59/month!

Just having a look at the options people have suggested.

jpd 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Three's basic PAYG deal is 1p/MB for data (it's what I use day-to-day, without any add-ons/bundles), so £1 per month for your usage. Credit doesn't expire, but you won't get any warning when you are running out, so you just need to check every few months and stick another £5 on it. 

Jamie Wakeham 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I'm not totally sure if an M2M SIM will work.  They say "The main criteria of choosing the suitable SIM card for your Pawfit tracker is cost and 2G phone network coverage. Please visit the candidate cellular operator’s website to check the coverage in your area. Once you are satisfied with the2G network coverage, then select a tariff which covers a monthly data (GPRS, 2G data) usage of 100 MB (Megabytes). Call minutes or texts are not required.
For UK customers:
Vodafone PAYG SIM (Big Value Bundle package or classic PAYG 1) EE PAYG SIM (Multi Sim package)
O2 PAYG SIM (Big Bundle package or classic PAYG)
Tesco PAYG SIM (Rocket packs or Triple Credit)
Please note SIM cards for mobile broadband, WiFi and tablets are not supported.
"

But then, of their SIM-inclusive model, they say "Pawfit-S and Pawfit 2 use M2M SIM which isn’t tied to a specific phone network. It uses all major 2G network carriers"

jpd - sadly I've discounted Three as their coverage is crap where I live - Voda, O2 and EE are all fine.

Rob Parsons 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I recently spent time looking for a 'traditional' PAYG SIM, and it seems that most operators have dropped them, unfortunately.

It might be worth your while contacting Giff Gaff. I know that they do continue to honour existing traditional PAYG arrangements, but I can't now find any relevant info on their site.

Btw, as for the '100 MB per month' expectation, just how clever is your dog? If he/she starts surfing for dog food videos, you might find that usage goes through the roof.

Good luck!

Jamie Wakeham 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> I recently spent time looking for a 'traditional' PAYG SIM, and it seems that most operators have dropped them, unfortunately.

Yes, seems so. A pity.

> It might be worth your while contacting Giff Gaff. I know that they do continue to honour existing traditional PAYG arrangements, but I can't now find any relevant info on their site.

I don't think they're issuing new ones of this type.

> Btw, as for the '100 MB per month' expectation, just how clever is your dog? If he/she starts surfing for dog food videos, you might find that usage goes through the roof.

I'll restrict access to pawnhub...

BruceM 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

I use O2 PAYG which is a 321 deal as per Three, but better coverage. Using that right now here in Spain. My girl uses the same type of card in a 2G phone with no probs.

Rob Parsons 06 Feb 2020
In reply to BruceM;

> I use O2 PAYG which is a 321 deal ...

That doesn't exist any more, for new customers.

captain paranoia 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> They reckon it'll use about 100MB data a month

What update rate is it transmitting at? And what message size?

I have some cheap trackers that send about 150bytes per update. At a 5 minute update rate, that's 43200 bytes per day, or 1.3MB per month. That suggests once every four seconds for yours.

I use GiffGaff SIMs for my trackers. No 'bundle', just a simple, PAYG, which doesn't expire. At 5p/MB, that's 10p a month for my trackers at 5 minute report rate.

You can usually send a command SMS to change the update rate; if the dog goes missing, send it to update much faster, so you can live track it.

I will look at the M2M SIMs suggested, as most of them are multi-network, which would be useful for better network coverage.

captain paranoia 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Sans-Plan:

That 1pmobile deal looks good; much better than GiffGaff...

Couldn't find which network they're using, but I'm tempted to get one, as I have another tracker coming soon, and the SMS commands are the most expensive part of it, especially as GiffGaff have just upped their PAYG prices.

GlobalM2MSIM looks good, too.

captain paranoia 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> I don't think they're issuing new ones of this type.

I think they are, but you have to work quite hard to drill down past all the 'bundle' offers to get a simple, non-expiring credit PAYG.

But that's all a bit moot as there appear to be much better offers available.

Sans-Plan 06 Feb 2020
Mattyk 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Hi Jamie you want this https://www.three.co.uk/free_sim_mbb/order

free 200mb every month? why they do it no idea

Jamie Wakeham 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Mattyk:

I've looked at that offer - it's unbelievably good. But I live in a Three blackspot... 

1pmobile looked like they could be a winner, but buried in their t&cs is the fact that you have to top up (minimum £10) every 120 days, so in fact they're £2.50/month. 

I need to get an idea of exactly how much data this thing burns through...

Edit: looking through some reviews, I'm seeing people reporting as low as 1MB a month through to 20-odd. It would seem their 100MB estimate is pretty high! So I'm going to try the cheapest (per MB) PAYG sim I can find (that's not on Three), which I think might be Giffgaff after all. Thanks for the help!

Post edited at 22:53
elsewhere 06 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

If the three sim is free to try give it a go.

You may be in a three blackspot for 5G and 4G but have 3G or 2G.

Jamie Wakeham 07 Feb 2020
In reply to elsewhere:

Actually, that's a good point - it only needs GPRS over 2G. I'll try the free Three SIM and of its no good I'll switch to Giffgaff.

captain paranoia 07 Feb 2020
In reply to Mattyk:

Three doesn't support 2G, GPRS, which is very commonly used by trackers.

captain paranoia 07 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

> 1pmobile looked like they could be a winner, but buried in their t&cs is the fact that you have to top up (minimum £10) every 120 days,

Bugger. Oh well, I'll be sticking with GiffGaff, then. I've got plenty of credit on the £10 I put on them, plus the 'referral bonus'.

Jamie Wakeham 07 Feb 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

Oh hell - you're right. Three is alone in the UK in that it only uses 3G and 4G. A 2G only device literally won't work on Three.

Back to Giffgaff for me, I think.

Post edited at 10:17
IPPurewater 07 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Have a look at 1pmobile.com. 1p per Mb, text or minute.

captain paranoia 08 Feb 2020
In reply to IPPurewater:

He's already checked their T&Cs: minimum top up £10 every 120 days.

Jamie Wakeham 11 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Just updating this, mainly in case anyone else with one of these devices finds this thread in the future.  It seems that 100MB a month is way more than the Pawfit actually needs.  They've allowed a massive margin for error!

It's got a couple of clever features that keep the data rate down.  You tell it which is your home wifi, and if it sees that name in its list, it doesn't bother transmitting, because it knows it must be at home.  Once it's away from that wifi, it transmits data at a rate governed by the dog's speed - the faster you move, the more packets it sends.   It looks like the interval varies from about once a minute up to 30 minutes or more.  You can over-ride this - if you ask the app to go into 'active searching' it sends a ping every five seconds.  This will obviously use much more data but means if you're tracking your lost dog you're getting a more or less continuous location reading.

Having had about 2 kilometers of walks a day, yesterday and today, it looks like the amount of data we've used is in the low tens of KB per day.  So actually, a 5p/MB tariff will cost virtually nothing - about a pound a year!  And I can confirm that a GiffGaff SIM with no Goody Bag attached (ie basic PAYG) certainly works. 

Jamie Wakeham 18 Feb 2020
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:

Update for the benefit of future viewers - a week in, I've used almost exactly half a MB, so we're talking in the region of 70KB/day.  We're not walking her that much yet - she's still a bit scared and the weather is awful, but even if you tramped for miles and miles I can't see you using more than a couple of hundred KB in a day.

It would seem that GiffGaff can't accurately bill for usage this low; I'd expect to have been charged about 2.5p for half a MB, but they seem to be billing me at 1p per day.  I don't think I can bring myself to complain about this shocking overcharge...


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