Multi-SIM for the Hyperconnected

As more and more people use cellular networks not only to make phone calls but also to access the Internet, the desire to use more than one connected device at the same time is on the rise. The problem: Paying a basic fee for each device and then maybe again for Internet access is often financially not very attractive. But even if you cross that bridge and end up with a couple of gigabytes included for one device and another couple of gigabytes for another device, in the end, you might not even use all the data included in one bucket despite having two devices.

A solution for some cases is a 3G to Wi-Fi Router which works well when devices are close together and you want to share access with a group of people. However, it doesn't work so well when on the move and using several devices at once. But here's an interesting solution:

I found out recently that most German operators offer so called “Multi-SIM” cards. All SIM cards, usually up to three, are registered to the same phone number and can be active simultaneously. Incoming calls are forwarded to all switched-on devices and and the call can be accepted or rejected with any of them.

I've had a look at the fine print of one operator and here, Internet use with a single monthly bucket, even simultaneously on more than one device, is explicitly allowed! Some operators want a one time activation charge for each SIM card, but monthly charges for all SIM cards on a single contract range between very modest and free. Very nice! This will solve a big issue for people with netbooks that have a built in 3G adapter and who want to use a smartphone or other wireless device at the same time. Throw a further slim phone into the equation that can be used with the thrid SIM card and the Multi-SIM approach becomes even better.

But that's Germany, are there similar offers in other countries?

4 thoughts on “Multi-SIM for the Hyperconnected”

  1. I’m looking at this with O2. Their o2 on business service offers a 5 gb bucket across two sim cases with flat telephony for around 35 euro. will probably sign up next week.

  2. I have 5 SIM cards from the Finnish operator Saunalahti. They no longer offer the Multi-SIM service separately (apparently it wasn’t that popular), but it is available with the 24 month contract bundled USB modems (those cost the same 9,80 eur/month for the basic 384k flatrate as the non-24 month plan). However, that service only includes one SIM card and officially, I hear, it’s not possible to get more. Yet, their web management interface lets you place an order for a total of up to 5 SIM cards, I think at a cost of 1,90 eur per SIM one time fee.

    So it is available, all five usable at once, but requires the 24 month contract for new subscribers and the more than two SIMs total is a bit unofficial.

    The other operators seem to offer something they like to call multi-SIM but only offers sharing the phone number, data has to be paid for separately for each SIM.

    I’d like to hear what’s the situation elsewhere, too! Other readers, dig a bit on Multi-SIM in your country and report how it is for you.

  3. Kyivstar Ukraine offers second SIM card with the same MSISDN for postpaid subscribers. Solution is based on some Ericsson HLR’s feature.
    A friend of mine deployed similar service for one polish GSM operator. There they have also service which gives multiple MSISDNs on the same SIM card (means, for the same IMSI).

  4. In Poland only ERA offers second SIM card with the same MSISDN. The solution is not too sophisticated – you shouldn’t have both terminals active at the same time. In practice you can but than you never know which one will be paged.

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