Data SIM Cards v Phone SIM Cards – Are They Interchangeable

Published on 2017-06-07

In this post we answer those questions and give you more information on solutions for mobile Internet access.

Let’s start by understanding what a SIM card is.

Data SIM cards and phone SIM cards

A SIM card is a Subscriber Identity Module. It’s a small circuit board that connects your device to your service carrier for phone calls or your mobile Internet provider.

You may have noticed there are three sizes of SIM cards in use, standard, micro, and nano. The one you need depends on the design of the device it is being used in but in 95% cases it will be a standard size. SIM cards can store small amounts of information, such as user identity, network authorisation data, contact lists, and even information for making payments for goods or services with your phone.

As modern phone SIM cards can also be used to access mobile Internet it’s understandable that both phone SIMs and Data SIMs are very similar physically, and technically. A data SIM card can’t connect you to your carrier to make calls over the network. It doesn’t have any free minutes (often free texts), and is only used to connect your devices that accept SIM cards to mobile Internet. 

For more information on mobile broadband see this article

Can you use your phone SIM in mobile broadband devices?

You can connect devices such as tablets and laptops to the Internet using a mobile broadband connection. To do this you will need equipment to make that connection, for example a USB dongle, or a mi-fi mobile router. Dongles and mi-fi require a data SIM card to access the Internet and this will incur data charges.

Many phone SIM cards have unlimited data so it’s easy to see why people would want to use their phone SIM in their router or dongle to connect to mobile Internet.

While your phone SIM card may work for a short time in a mobile broadband device, as soon as the service provider becomes aware of how it is being used it will be blocked. This is because using a phone SIM card in a mobile broadband device is a violation of the terms and conditions of use.

The solution

The solution is to buy a data Sim card with a low priced tariff and look at the mobile broadband devices that will connect you to the Internet wherever you are.


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