Data Only SIMs for smartphones

Been busy so haven’t been on the forums for some days. The thread I wanted to post in has been closed so consider this a continuation of the following…

I recently ported my second oldest T-Mobile phone line to JMP for two reasons. One, to lower my phone bill, and two, because the number is easier to remember.

Earlier I mentioned that I would probably get a mobile hotspot for the times I want to take one of the phones without SIM outside of the house. Or that I’d use my OP8T as a hotspot.
But then I was thinking. For the first I wouldn’t be reducing my phone bill really. Remove a phone line and then add a mobile hotspot line would still keep my bill essentially where it is. As far as hotspotting to the OP8T, that could work at times but the OnePlus has the worst battery of all of my phones (barely lasts a day). Okay for short sessions I guess.

Then I was thinking. Pretty Good Phone Privacy and JMP (soon) have data only offerings. At the moment only via eSIM devices.
I was thinking why not try the same for my phones using a data only SIM.
For the past week I’ve been reading and researching data only SIMs. We know that carriers have such things but they are designed or provisioned for mobile hotspots or tablets. Some say the tablet ones will work fine with phones, other say no.
I remember a few years ago I had a T-Mobile LTE tablet. I gave it away but put the SIM in a then-new Essential PH-1. It didn’t work and the T-Mobile people told me why and went about the process of re-provisioning the SIM as a normal one.

Anyway, been doing some searching and researching for a data only SIM provider. Seems they are few and far between. There’s a lot of sites that are supposed to show such providers but really are just showcasing general MVNOs.

Recently I got two SIMs. One turned out to not be data only so that’s my bad.
Tello (U.S. based) seems to be recommended. Went to their site and was checking plans. I selected a 2GB, no voice minutes SIM ($10/month) thinking it was data only.
When I got it I put it in the Moto G5s Plus sanders running Oreo ROMs (multiboot). It had to be activated, at which point I was given a phone number and immediately received a text message. Oops. Just a regular SIM with no voice minutes but messaging enabled by default. Via the web dashboard the messaging can actually be disabled.
I don’t need a new phone number so this SIM is not what I want. However, as a cheap alternative to the big carriers the Tello stuff seems good. VoLTE was immediately shown in my status bar. Roaming is not possible. Tello uses T-Mobile network. If one is outside the coverage area they recommend WiFI calling or using the Tello app. This tells me WiFI calling is provisioned.
We know that the Teracube doesn’t seem to do WiFi calling so I’m tempted to put it in that phone just as a test to see if it will work.

The other SIM is from EIOTCLUB (Hong Kong, China). This is a true data only SIM. Voice and messaging are not supported as no phone number is available. Supposedly works on any IoT device that is GSM and carrier/SIM unlocked. People seem to use it on cameras (ReoLink is mentioned the most), POS systems, mobile hotspots, routers, etc.
That one I put in the Teracube 2e (which originally had the T-Mobile number I ported to JMP). It is a dual-network SIM that works with AT&T (default) and T-Mobile towers.
It was as they advertised, truly plug and play. No activation. Put it in the phone, booted up, and connectivity was active. Status bar shows “AT&T - EIOTCLUB”. APNS were automatically added and use IPv4 (which is what I only use anyway). Also, Roaming has to be enabled.
In the Amazon entry for the SIM, in the Q&A section, someone was asking if it’s possible to change the network provider. On a phone that’s easy so I tried it and changed from AT&T to T-Mobile, which is shown in the status bar.
I don’t yet know how reliable the connection is as the APN uses a Hong Kong server. Haven’t really had the chance to test yet but I did notice the mobile icon constantly appearing and disappearing for a bit. Some folks would have reservations about using an offshore server (privacy concerns). I use a VPN and also DNSCrypt so basic tests show things are still as they were as far as browserleaks is concerned.

I’ve seen only one other data only provider but they are also China-based. Still searching for a U.S.-based data only SIM provider. If anyone knows of any, please let me know.

So anyway, on the Teracube 2e I can take the phone back with me to work and still be able to call or text via JMP.

On a side note, the Cheogram app is the only way to go with JMP (IMNSHO). Besides handling contacts in a cool way to easily call/message anyone, it allows for adding Cheogram/JMP as a calling account in Phone/Dialer. And I like the fact that the Cheogram contact has a separate tab with all the commands needed to handle the account. No need to remember commands or use “help” to list them.
Good stuff.

Many thanks @Taurus for all the JMP info.


Good info; thanks @marcdw.
You might want to look at Vegolink as well, for a data-only option. They’re based in Cyprus*, I believe. Their data rates seem very cheap in most parts of the world. Look for reviews first, obviously. (I don’t have any experience with them.)

(*) …or possibly Latvia, judging from info in their privacy policy.


Vegolink is interesting. Confusing at first until I re-read things.
I like the fact that they don’t have any set periods (monthly, quarterly, etc.).
From what I gather, the $30 price and how much data you get for it all depends on one’s usage and the network used.
According to the rates table, when using T-Mobile the cost is $10 per 1GB. On AT&T network it is $6 per GB.

The price per GB in some countries is huge so travelers would have to keep an eye out.

For the sake of argument, let’s say I wanted to move my daily driver over to a data only SIM. I’m sure that one uses several GB per cycle. Hmm, actually, the Data Monitor app shows almost 10GB the past month. Things could get expensive.

For the secondary and tertiary devices, mostly on WiFi at home, Vegolink would probably be really good.
Will definitely consider for those devices.

I did come across several discussions. Nothing really negative but will continue to read up in the meantime.


Yeah, for heavy data usage, the price per gig might be excessive. For light usage, and for international travel (to most countries), it looks like it can be a very conveneint option, given the non-expiring balance.

If and when JMP issues physical SIM cards, that would be a better option for U.S./Canada usage, especially if they then add international roaming.

Some news on the data SIM and eSIM rollout in JMP’s latest newsletter: Newsletter: Voicemail Changes, Opt-in Jabber ID Discoverability — JMP Blog


Was wondering @Taurus , do you follow the General Discussion group on XMPP? A number of users already have the SIMs so there’s a lot of good info there.
I see that the SIMs use an exit point in France. Better than the Hong Kong exit points I get with the EIOTCLUB SIMs (I use a VPN though which helps).
Supposedly they tried to get a deal with an U.S. east coast provider to get an exit point in the U.S. but it would cost too much.

Someone asked why the SIM is $30. They mentioned the costs of acquiring, programming, and shipping. But also that it’s kind of a deposit also. If one isn’t satisfied with the service they can send back the SIM for a partial refund.

Like the SIMs I have now, IPv4 will be used which is fine by me but one user in particular takes issue with that. LOL.

I’m on the waiting list so hopefully it won’t be too long for the JMP SIM.

But anyway the chat is quite busy but I’m learning a lot about JMP, Cheogram, and all the various issues and tips related to XMPP. I’ve had an old Jabber account going back years (original, now gone) but never actually used it for anything. ICQ also.
Heh, 2022 and finally make use of the service following a few groups. What’s old is new again I guess.

For testing purposes I just ordered a SIM from Vegolink. Will report back how that works out.

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No, I don’t follow the XMPP chat; the one or two times I glanced at it, it seemed a bit overwhelming and not sticking to any kind of categorization…a firehose of questions and comments. I should make an attempt, though.

I knew that they were rolling out the SIMs; I’m looking forward to getting one soon. I’m surprised they’re using France, and not Canada, which is where Soprani is based. As long as it still works in the U.S. (and hopefully Europe), that’s fine with me.

Please let us all know about your Vegolink experience. Looks like it would be a great solution for some situations/users.

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