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Programmable Wireless: Understanding Rate Plans

A Rate Plan specifies the capabilities of every Twilio SIM associated with it. A Rate Plan can also be used to impose limits on the SIMs associated with it. For example, you might set up a Rate Plan that allows its SIMs to access data and messaging services but limit them to 5MB of data every month. Every SIM assigned to that Rate Plan will be able to consume no more than 5MB of data and messages per month.

You can create as many Rate Plans as you need, but you need to create at least one. If you’re still experimenting with a Twilio SIM, you’ll probably create a small number of Rate Plans, perhaps even one for each of your SIMs, to see how they work. However. for full-scale deployments you’re likely to associate many SIMs with just a few Rate Plans. All the SIMs associated with a given Rate Plan will share the same capabilities and limitations.

A single Rate Plan can have many SIMs associated with it, but a single SIM can only be associated with one Rate Plan at a time.

What capabilities does a Rate Plan control?

A Rate Plan manages the following SIM capabilities:

  • Connectivity — 2G/3G/LTE or narrowband.
  • Services — Data, voice and/or messaging.
  • Roaming — US and International
  • Data limits — How much data the SIM can transfer in a month.
  • Billing — Should the SIM’s use be paid on usage or be pre-paid.

How to create a Rate Plan

Rate Plans are set up in the Console

  1. Go to the Programmable Wireless section and click on Rate Plan.
  2. Click the red + button to open the Create Rate Plan form.

The Create Rate Plan form provides space to enter a unique name for the Rate Plan to make it easy to find in the future. It also includes five areas where you set the Rate Plan’s features. When you’ve complete each one, click Continue. Click on any area’s title bar to go back and make changes if you need to.

1. SIM type

This sets the SIM’s connectivity mode: you can choose either 2G/3G/LTE or NARROWBAND.

2. SIM services

Set the services that the Rate Plan’s SIMs will support. The options are data, voice and messaging; select as many as you need.

Messaging doesn’t just cover SMS messaging but also the use of SMS messages to send commands to IoT devices.

3. Roaming

Roaming is the ability of a SIM to connect across multiple carriers’ networks. National roaming, if enabled, allows the SIM to join networks beyond those of Twilio carrier partners, if it needs to.

If national roaming is disabled the SIM will still be able to connect, but there may be certain locations where it cannot reach a Twilio affiliate network and so will be offline until it contacts such a network.

International roaming, if enable, allows the SIM to join networks outside of the US.

You can find out more about the additional cost of these roaming options here.

4. Data metering

You can choose either to pay a per-megabyte (MB) rate for data (‘Pay As You Go’) or pay in advance to receive a discounted per-MB rate (‘Quota’). The higher the quota rate, the higher the upfront payment but the greater the discount. If you’re new to Twilio SIM, Pay As You Go may be the most convenient choice, but as you deploy more SIMs, you will want to take advantage of the discounted rates.

You can find out more about calculating the cost of these data metering options, and learn more about choosing the right plan for your use case, here.

5. Data limits

You can apply limits to the volume of data that SIMs associated with the Rate Plan can transfer each month. If a SIM reaches that limit, it will be blocked from further data transfer until the start of the next billing period. You can set separate limits for Twilio affiliate networks, national roaming and international roaming.

This is a useful barrier to excessive data usage. As you build your IoT product, you will conduct tests to determine average monthly data usage levels. You can enforce these levels using the Rate Plan.

Advanced users may also wish to enter a URL to which notifications will be posted when one of the Rate Plan’s SIMs approaches its data limit.

How to edit a Rate Plan

At this time, it is not possible to make changes to a Rate Plan, but because you can create as many Rate Plans as you wish, it’s easy to set up a new Rate Plan with the modified settings.

You can delete any Rate Plans you no longer need by selecting the plan and scrolling to the bottom of the Details tab.

How to add a SIM to a Rate Plan

After you have set up the Rate Plan:

  1. Go to SIMs in the Console.
  2. Locate the SIM.
  3. Click the Choose button to the right of the SIM’s existing Rate Plan. If National roaming is disabled the SIM will still be able to connect, but there may be certain locations where it cannot reach a Twilio affiliate network and so will be offline until it contacts such a network.
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