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First Steps: Order and Register Programmable Wireless SIMs

This guide will walk you through the process of ordering your first Programmable Wireless SIM and preparing it for use.

Once you’ve performed these simple but essential setup tasks, you’ll be ready to try out your SIM in an IoT device: we have a series of guides to help you try out Twilio’s seamless global cellular network and begin to prototype your own IoT hardware.

But that’s for later — the very first step is to obtain a Programmable Wireless SIM and get it ready for use.

Order a Programmable Wireless SIM

You request Programmable Wireless SIMs using the Twilio Console — just go to Orders to login, scroll down to Programmable Wireless and select the number of SIMs you require:

Order Programmable Wireless SIMs from the Console

Trial account credit cannot be used to purchase Programmable Wireless SIMs. You must first upgrade your Twilio account before you can access the order page. To do so, visit Billing in the Console and enter your payment details.

For your first order, you should opt for a SIM Starter Pack — or the Narrowband SIM Starter Pack if you want to try out our NB-IoT connectivity in the US. Each Starter Pack contains three multi-size SIM cards of a single type which you can add to your own account or share with colleagues and collaborators.

What’s the difference between a SIM Starter Pack, a Multi-Size SIM Card, and an Embedded SIM Pack?

SIM Starter Pack

Each SIM Starter Pack contains three multi-size SIM cards (2FF/mini, 3FF/micro, and 4FF/nano). These SIMs are not pre-registered to a particular Twilio account and come with registration instructions so that they can be easily shared with other developers on your team.

You can order Starter Packs with either Programmable Wireless SIMs for 2G/3G/4G use, or Narrowband SIMs which give you access to T-Mobile’s NB-IoT network (US only).

The SIMs that come in a Starter Pack are identical to those you would receive if you ordered the Multi-Size SIM Cards. The only difference is that they do not come pre-registered to your account so you can share them across your team.

Multi-Size SIM Card

A multi-size SIM (2FF/mini, 3FF/micro, and 4FF/nano) card for either Programmable Wireless (2G/3G/4G) or Narrowband (T-Mobile’s US-only NB-IoT network) that is pre-registered to your Twilio account and ready to configure when the order is shipped. The minimum order quantity is 10.

Embedded SIM Embedded SIMs are solderable SIMs (MFF2) that come in factory sealed reels of 10, 100 or 1000. They arrive pre-registered to your Twilio account and ready to configure when the order is shipped.

Ordering and activating a single SIM is a beginner’s process; when you’re ready to deploy SIMs to device fleets, you’ll do that through the Console and activate them there too. More details in our How to Bulk Update SIMs guide.

Prepare a Programmable Wireless SIM for use

How you proceed from here depends on which Programmable Wireless SIM you ordered: a SIM Starter Pack or a set of Multi-Size SIM cards or Embedded SIMs

Set up a SIM Starter Pack

1. Enter the Registration Code

  1. Go to Internet of Things > Programmable Wireless > SIMs.
  2. Click on the Register a SIM link at the top right.
  3. Enter the SIM’s registration code:
    Enter the SIM’s registration code
  4. Click the Register SIM button.

2. Choose a Unique Name

When the SIM is registered to your account, an Activate a SIM page will appear. The first thing to do is choose a unique name for your SIM. This is a convenient way to identify your SIM in the Console and through the Programmable Wireless API.

  1. Enter a friendly name in the Unique Name field:
    Enter a friendly name for the SIM
  2. Click Continue.

3. Create or choose a Rate Plan

A Rate Plan defines the capabilities and sets the restrictions applied to each SIM associated with it. You can add a new Rate Plan to your account, or select an existing Rate Plan. If your account doesn’t have any Rate Plans yet, create one now.

Some of the following options are not enabled for Narrowband SIMs. Narrowband SIMs only work in the US on T-Mobile, so roaming options are not enabled. Data and messaging are pre-set for you, and the data limits are determined by your choice of Data Metering Plan.

For more details on the specifics of Narrowband SIM plans, please see Narrowband: The Twilio SIM for Massive IoT.

  1. Click the blue + button to open the Create a Rate Plan wizard. Click Continue after each step.
  2. Indicate whether the SIM will be used only in the US or around the world:
    Indicate whether the SIM will be used only in the US or around the world
  3. Choose the services you want SIMs in this Rate Plan to support. SMS Commands enable machine-to-machine messaging. Programmable Wireless SIMs do not support phone-to-phone text messaging or voice calls, but you can do voice and or messaging over data, for example with WhatsApp or FaceTime:
    Choose the services you want the SIM to support
  4. Select your Rate Plan’s data metering scheme. Pay As You Go (PAYG) has no minimum monthly spend, while the Quota prices do mandate a minimum monthly spend. PAYG per megabyte data prices are higher; quote data prices fall the more you commit to spend each month. Check out this page to learn more about the options available and then make your choice:
    Select your SIM Data Metering plan
  5. Set your Rate Plan’s monthly data cap (in megabytes per month):
    Set your monthly SIM data cap
  6. Give your new Rate Plan a friendly name to make it easier to locate in the Console or API in future:
    Give your new Rate Plan a friendly name
  7. Click Save to finish.
  8. When you’re back at the Activate a SIM page, click Continue.

You can find more detailed information about Rate Plans in About Programmable Wireless Rate Plans.

4. Activate your SIM

To complete the registration, you need to activate your SIM.

  1. Click Activate Now:
    click to activate the SIM

Your SIM’s activation will be added to the queue. You should see it move to the Active state almost immediately:

See the SIM move to the Active state

5. Set your device’s APN

Whatever IoT development hardware you’re using, you’ll need to set the Access Point Name (APN) it uses to establish cellular connectivity. How and where this value is entered depends on what type of device you are using and what type of SIM. The instructions for each SIM and key device types is on a separate page, so hop there to follow the guidance and then return here.

6. Job done

You’ve now set up a SIM from your Starter Pack. Unless you also have embedded or multi-size SIM card packs to configure too, you can jump straight to guidance on using your new SIM.

Set up Multi-Size SIM cards or Embedded SIMs

SIMs included in these orders will be pre-registered to your account so all you need do is to configure each of the SIMs:

  1. Go to Internet of Things > Programmable Wireless > SIMs.
  2. Click on any SIM that you wish to configure.
  3. Enter a name in the Unique Name field.
  4. Click the Choose to the right of the RATE PLAN field. Select an existing Rate Plan, or click Manage my Rate Plans to create a new Rate Plan. For the latter, follow the guide About Programmable Wireless Rate Plans for assistance, and come back to the SIM’s details page when you’re done.
  5. Select Active under STATUS.
  6. Click Save.
  7. Job done: the SIM is configured and activated.

Use your Programmable Wireless SIM

Your Programmable Wireless SIM is now ready to be used as the basis for your IoT device’s cellular connectivity. Here are some guides to help you start:

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