Drug dealers. Cheating spouses. Spies. They can all benefit from Ready SIM, a SIM card that self-destructs—well, kind of. The prepaid wireless service, which leverages T-mobile's network, collects no personal information from customers and sells SIM cards that expire three to 30 days after activation—a perfect complement for burner phones.
Though Ready SIM works only in the United States, it's actually a Vancouver brand that operates alongside Roam Mobility, which provides mobile service for Canadians crossing the border. Ready SIM launched a line of SIM cards in January with voice, text, and data, and on Friday, it began offering data-only SIM cards that cost from $15 for 500MB to $40 for 2GB.
Though CEO Emir Aboulhosn declined to disclose activation figures, he told Fast Company that "hundreds of thousands" of its cards have been sold across hundreds of retailers globally. Described as a self-activating SIM card, the data-only version automatically activates when inserted in a mobile device. For cards that include text and/or voice, users have to endure a few additional steps that should take less than a minute to complete, Aboulhosn said, including texting their zip codes to a four-digit short code and adjusting their phones' roaming settings. Ready SIM also runs its own private Access Point Name, a proxy service so it can't see what users are doing on their mobile devices.
"I have to say this, and it's true: We do comply if we do get a subpoena," he admitted. But because Ready SIM doesn't collect personal information, such as names and addresses, at the point of sale, it can't offer much in such an event. "As a telecom company, all we know is how much data you've used, but we have no idea what you've done with it," Aboulhosn said, who noted that Ready SIM also has information on the length of browsing sessions and associated IP addresses. However, once numbers are disposed, they're recycled back into the system.
"Some people joke Ready SIM is perfect for cheating spouses because of the anonymity behind it," Aboulhosn said. Even so, the company can attribute much of its success to travelers, who often purchase Ready SIM cards before arriving in the U.S. "Because of its ease of use, it's ranked as one of the better travel SIMs out there. It's great to buy before you leave home," he added, noting internal research has found Ready SIM is also popular with people temporarily working abroad in the U.S.