You are planning your dream vacation and you are excited to share your experience with those who cannot travel with you. You also want to be safe and be able to let your loved ones know that have reached your destination and that all is well.
Have you ever wondered how you access our mobile operator network? Are you concerned about whether you will be able to access the mobile operator networks in the country that you are travelling to? How is this made possible? We answer these questions in this article.
Make sure that you know about what a Global Sim Card is and how you can remain connected while travelling.
ICCID stands for Integrated Circuit Card Identification Number. It’s a unique 18 or 22 digit code that includes a SIM card’s country, home network, and identification number.
Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) use ICCID numbers to determine which network to connect a subscriber to. Unlike an IMEI number, which refers to the mobile device, an ICCID number refers to the SIM card itself. Since each SIM card has a unique ICCID, you may sometimes hear it called the SIM card number.
Since you need the ICCID number to manage a specific SIM card, it’s important to know how to find it. (Especially if you use multiple prepaid SIM cards for the same device.) As mentioned earlier, you can usually find the code on the card itself, or on the packaging.
But that’s not always convenient. Thankfully, there’s another way to find it. You can insert the SIM card into a device, and then use the device to query the ICCID number. In a cell phone, you can find the ICCID in your settings menu.
If you don’t want to enable international roaming on your phone, there are benefits to having a travel sim card. Further reading: What is a travel SIM card? (2022 international travellers guide).
So how do mobile network operators use ICCID numbers?
After you insert a SIM card into a device that uses cellular connectivity, it searches for any available cellular networks, then uses the ICCID number and IMSI to determine if the device has rights to access the network.
When a device attaches to a “visiting” network (meaning not its home network), that network sends an authentication request to the device’s home network. The home network sends what basically amounts to a riddle that only the device can solve. The network generates a random number and shares it with the device, then uses an algorithm and a shared secret key to produce a new number based on the random one. If the device produces the same number, it proves it has the same secret key and with that it’s authorized to use the network.
If the SIM card doesn’t have the correct key to access the network, the device can only use the network to call emergency services.
Every ICCID number is unique and serves as an identifier of your SIM card. This set of digits is important for mobile networks operator since this will be their basis on which network they will connect a mobile device to.
The ICCID number basically allows you to access specific mobile networks. This is important because it allows you to remain connected so that you can share your travelling experience with your family and friends at home. Additionally, it ensures that you remain connected in case there is an emergency at home or at your destination where you will need to contact your loved ones.
Additionally, if you want to perform important transactions such as banking, it is advised that this is done over a mobile network as opposed to public Wi-Fi.
Most of us have a mobile phone which is able to connect to various international mobile network operators provided that your phone has international roaming. Further reading: What is international roaming & how it works.
A SIM card’s ICCID number is a single string of 18–22 digits, but there are four sets of numbers in each ICCID. As an example, let’s use 891004234814455936F.
In every ICCID number, the first two digits are always 89. This is an industry code that indicates this is a product for telecommunications networks.
The next one to six digits usually represent the country code, which is established by the International Telecommunications Union. In this example, the country code is 1—which indicates the United States or Canada.
After the country code is the mobile network code (MNC), a string of one to four digits associated with the mobile network operator (MNO) that issued the SIM card. This code essentially represents your SIM card’s home network. In our example, the MNC is 004, a code associate with Verizon Wireless.
The final set of digits is completely unique to each SIM. No other SIM in the world will share this exact combination. This is what allows you to view a specific SIM in a SIM manager, activate or cancel a service, or interact with your connectivity provider’s customer service.
In the example above, this set of digits is 234814455936F.
There are many codes that networks use for smooth communication. This can be confusing especially if you have problems with your network. There are codes like ISMI and IMEI that are also used by networks. These codes aim to create a distinct identity that will be stored by your network.
Now, let us know: what are the distinctions between ICCID, IMSI, and IMEI?
Again, an ICCID serves as a SIM card identifier. The ICCID is distinct in itself in the sense that it helps networks activate your SIM card. It also helps you in creating a roaming profile whenever your network does not cover your area.
The International Mobile Security Identity or “IMSI” represents your SIM card’s identification number. They may seem to be the same as the ICCID, but this code serves a different function. This code lets you know what networks you can access within your area. The IMSI also serves as a unique identifier for the subscribers but is different from a mobile number.
The International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) represents a radio device; i.e., your SIM module inside your phone. This is unique for every SIM module on your phone. It means that a dual-SIM phone must contain two IMEIs in them. Unlike the IMSI and ICCID, the IMEI is contained on your phone. Like the ICCID, the IMEI is important for communication, for this can be tampered with by hackers that can potentially tap on your communication lines.
Make sure that you are aware of the various safety apps that you can make use of while travelling. Further reading: Top 110 Best travel apps (2022 International tourist guide).
Yes, you can find your ICCID number in the settings section of your phone.
Yes. As long as you have enabled international roaming on our Sim Card, you will be able to access international mobile operator networks. Alternatively purchase a Travel Sim Card. Find out more in our further reading sections in the article.
The ICCID serves as a Sim Card identifier, thus cannot be altered in any way. The same goes with IMEI. One cannot simply altercate the IMEI of any phone unless you want to be legally charged. However, the IMSI can be changed since a SIM card can be registered to any subscribers. Therefore, provided that you are the only one using the Sim Card, then the number will be unique to you.