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mokanix: the fully controllable IoT SIM

8th May 2018

We all take mobile data connectivity for granted. The smartphone in my pocket gives me instant access to the Internet wherever I go. There are over 8.5 billion mobile connections today and this number is growing rapidly.

With the impending roll‑out of 5G for even higher bandwidth applications and cellular IoT standards for low‑power uses, it seems cellular data will soon have an option for everyone. And yet, the service that every mobile operator offers their customers is broadly the same:

  • single operator access
  • fixed term contract lock‑in
  • simple connection to the public Internet
  • no consolidated view of multiple SIMs
  • “always open” data connection

mokanix was born from challenging this model. To allow the true potential of mobile data connectivity to be fully exploited, especially for IoT use, our prospective customers are telling us they need more connectivity, flexible commercial models, easy but powerful control over their data sessions and secure connectivity.

We wanted to deliver a service specifically for software developers who are building bespoke IoT solutions for their clients. We secured some seed funding from Tata Communications under their “Shape the Future” programme, partnered with our friends at Pod Group and used Lean startup to bring this vision to life in just seven months.

So, what is mokanix?

First of all, we wanted to offer an enhanced basic service to our customers. Customers should have access to better connectivity and risk‑free commercials.

mokanix SIMs roam globally giving access to more than one mobile operator in a country. This means a customer can acquire SIMs from a single vendor for global deployment and connect to whichever network offers the best service wherever they are put into the field.

mokanix has replaced contract lock‑in periods with a simple prepaid model. A project can be prototyped on our pay‑as‑you‑go Developer tariff which offers simple per‑MB pricing. When a solution is ready to be rolled‑out at a larger scale, customers can move onto our cost-efficient Enterprise shared data pool model which allows a data bundle to be shared across all activated SIMs.

Customers are free to change their data pool at any time (effective the following month) without penalty. We offer a choice of seven global data ‘zones’ so the most cost‑effective option for each project can be easily selected. This brings mokanix fully up‑to‑speed with many competitors in the same space who offer similar functions, but it is only the start.

A common request as we speak to customers is for inherent security. Customers often say that security is their prime concern. Developers are keenly aware that security must be designed in from the start rather than ‘bolted on’ afterwards to be truly effective and yet a private connection to a mobile operator has traditionally only been available to large enterprises willing to pay for the privilege. Application developers have been left with the responsibility to add SSL or similar technology to their application to provide protection with the accompanying hassle of keeping certificates updated. At mokanix we are seeking to democratise secure connectivity to a mobile operator making it available to anyone who needs it.

The real key benefit that we wanted to bring to mokanix is opening up access to network‑layer functionality.  With that in mind we are releasing a set of powerful REST APIs that can be used by software developers to gather information about their SIMs and control their data sessions at any time.

APIs are invaluable because they can set to be invoked by external triggers to change behaviour depending on other circumstances and need not be “set and forget”. Offering this access to network‑layer functions means that bespoke applications can be developed more quickly in response to customer demand. Access to mokanix APIs is given to all customers free of charge with only a fair-use policy applied.

3 unique APIs

The three unique APIs that mokanix will offer from launch are:

  • Location: Mobile operators always know the location of a SIM attached to their network, so they can direct an incoming call, SMS or data packet to the correct cell tower. mokanix offers a simple API call can be used to determine the location of the cell tower that a SIM is connected to.While this doesn’t offer the same location resolution as GPS, for many applications this information is sufficient and it allows hardware costs and software complexity to be reduced significantly. This can be used in applications such as workforce management to ensure efficient deployment of manpower.
  • Bandwidth: Mobile devices typically use the full bandwidth that is available to them, varying only according to signal strength and cell tower capacity. However mobile operators have long had the ability to restrict bandwidth allocation to a subscriber.This is typically used when a user is approaching the end of their available credit or in times of peak demand. mokanix offers access to this functionality to software developers so they can ensure IoT SIMs use their allocated bandwidth efficiently, for example by throttling system updates pushed by a central server.
  • Access control: Many responsible mobile operators provide simple blocking of known unsuitable websites, for example adult services, gambling etc. however it has never been possible to design bespoke access lists. mokanix offers the ability to configure customised access blacklists (e.g. no access to Facebook) or whitelists (e.g. access only Twitter) which can be configured and turned on-off at will. This function can be used to offer “one-app” SIMs which are only able to access a single application for ultimate security.

APIs can easily be combined using external triggers to make a comprehensive solution, for example an employee tapping their access badge to enter a corporate facility can trigger a two-factor authentication event (location: determine if the owner’s mokanix SIM is in the vicinity of the access request), ensure the user entering the office uses only the corporate wifi for high bandwidth applications (bandwidth: throttle access to below video streaming speed) and ensure workers remain concentrated on their work (web filter: block access to popular social networks to complement corporate access controls).

For those who want to learn more about the API functions or want to try them out quickly, mokanix also provides full access to invoke our APIs on our comprehensive, yet easy‑to‑use SIM management portal which is available free to registered users.

mokanix was launched for beta deployments on 16 April 2018 and the full release is currently slated for mid-May 2018. Full details including pricing, API documentation, use cases and knowledge base is available at https://mokanix.io

As we continue to develop mokanix we would love to learn what additional control functionality software developers need to enhance their IoT development projects. Let us know what else we can bring to make mokanix your fully controllable IoT SIM.