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Modules That Support 4G?
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Modules That Support 4G?

by petersampson on Tue Aug 10, 2021 3:20 pm

What cellular modules does Adafruit sell that I could use 4G?

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Re: Modules That Support 4G?

by adafruit_support_mike on Tue Aug 10, 2021 9:46 pm

4G is kind of an ambiguous term. It can refer to the ITU-R standard which defines the capabilities a network should have, like 100Mbps download bandwidth for phones, and 1Gbps bandwidth for stationary devics like hotspots. It can also refer to the HSPA+ or LTE connection protocols.. neither of which meets all the ITU-R requirements, but which have both been marketed as ‘4G’.

The Particle Boron can work with an LTE network:

https://www.adafruit.com/product/3998

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Re: Modules That Support 4G?

by zwrob on Sun Sep 05, 2021 1:36 am

Mike,
Q: Can you post a link that describes all the various nuances that you mentioned in your reply? E.g. what defines 3G vs 4G?

For context, I'm thinking of building my own cell phone, perhaps with some extra fun stuff added like LoRan, paper display, etc. I'm curious about the Adafruit FONA offerings.
Q: Why is Adafruit offering only the SIM5320A (3G) and not the SIM7600A (4G)?


The SIM5320A (https://www.adafruit.com/product/3147) comes with a TING card. Do you know whether the SIM7600A is compatible with the TING network (or whatever carriers they purchase capacity from)? The botletics board (https://github.com/botletics/SIM7000-LT ... d-Versions) is based on Adafruit libraries and seems like a nice way to go for a SIM7600A.
Q: Is Adafruit going to come out with a SIM7600A based breakout board, and if so when?



Adafruit is sold out of the particle board you mentioned in your post, but the manufacturer has them in stock:
https://store.particle.io/products/copy ... eq=uniform
Q: Does the Adafruit particle board come with the "EtherSim" mentioned in the particle.io store page? It is mentioned in the above link as:
This product is powered by EtherSIM, Particle's new globally available, self-optimizing SIM with no data plans or device fees.
Buy this hardware and start building with Particle's Free Plan which includes support for up to 100 devices, cellular data, and fully-featured platform access with no time limit.


Thank you,
Todd

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Re: Modules That Support 4G?

by adafruit_support_mike on Mon Sep 06, 2021 2:19 pm

zwrob wrote:Q: Can you post a link that describes all the various nuances that you mentioned in your reply? E.g. what defines 3G vs 4G?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3G
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4G

zwrob wrote:Q: Why is Adafruit offering only the SIM5320A (3G) and not the SIM7600A (4G)?

3G was the top of the line when we designed the FONA.

Cell phone design and development is an intensely regulated field, and the closer you get to the current state of the art, the tighter the scrutiny gets. IIRC, the expected timeline for a 4G device was around 18 months and $100k. We'd need a business case to show that we'd sell enough 4G devices for that investment of resources to pay off better than all the other things we could do with that time and money.

zwrob wrote:Q: Is Adafruit going to come out with a SIM7600A based breakout board

Nope, the return on investment doesn't look like we'd even break even.

zwrob wrote:and if so when?

Even if we had something in the pipeline, we don't do ETAs. There are too many parts of the supply chain we can't control (the current chip shortage being a big example), and there are *way* too many people on the internet who think 'estimated' means 'guaranteed'.


zwrob wrote:Q: Does the Adafruit particle board come with the "EtherSim" mentioned in the particle.io store page?

No. The one we sell is equivalent to this:

https://store.particle.io/products/boro ... 9dac&_ss=r

You'll need to talk to Particle about the details of EtherSIM. I get the impression it's part of their online services package, but don't know any more than that.

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Re: Modules That Support 4G?

by zwrob on Fri Sep 17, 2021 6:28 pm

Mike, thank you for the detailed responses. Here are some things I've found:

1. Both 2G and 3G are being phased out.

The FONA 3G suggests either using TING 2G or AT&T 3G, but both of these are being phased out:

* https://www.adafruit.com/product/3147
* https://www.att.com/support/article/wireless/KM1324171
* https://www.adafruit.com/product/2505

Based on this, I don't think it makes sense (for me anyway) to focus on the SIM5320A (3G) platform.

2a. Going with 4G seems like a good idea, and using the SIM7600A seems like the logical choice.

This seems really close to the FONA3G but using the waveshare (SIM7600A):
* https://www.waveshare.com/SIM7600A-H-4G-HAT.htm

But the amazon reviews suggest that this could be a rocky experience:
https://www.amazon.com/SIM7600A-H-4G-HA ... B082WH85WV

2b. going with the botletics (SIM7000G) might be ok...

But the amazon reviews for this are also are all over the map...
* https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H3YNCQS?th=1
* https://github.com/botletics/SIM7000-LT ... d-Versions

3. There just isn't enough information about the long term service provided by the particle board

"""Buy this hardware and start building with Particle's Free Plan which includes support for up to 100 devices, cellular data, and fully-featured platform access with no time limit."""

But there's no real data about this 'free plan', or how the current sim differs from the "EtherSim"... one thing their site mentions is a 100k/month limit. So these are useful as data-loggers, not as cell phones. Cool stuff, but not my current focus.

Looks like a complicated and rapidly evolving market.

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Re: Modules That Support 4G?

by adafruit_support_mike on Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:28 am

Yeah, the cell phone market is dominated by phases of hype that drive 2-year hardware upgrade cycles, similar to the desktop computer market through the 1980s and 1990s. 5G has barely been deployed, and people are already writing breathless articles about 6G.

In practice, the cycle will probably hit the 'sufficiently better barrier' in the next decade. For bandwidth-heavy applications like real-time video, the difference between 3G and 4G is significant, while the difference between 4G and 5G isn't all that noticeable. For anything else, like email, text messaging, and voice calls, both 4G and 5G are so far beyond the nominal load that 'more excess capacity' has no practical value. If carriers can't provide tangible benefits from upgrading to new hardware, consumers won't demand it from cell phone manufacturers, and lack of hardware support will limit deployment of expensive new networks.

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Re: Modules That Support 4G?

by rskup on Mon Oct 11, 2021 9:52 pm

Hi zwrob,

Just wanted to chime in concerning your Waveshare post/comments above. I too would have greatly preferred a FONA 4G, but alas, 'tis but a dream.

Anyways, wanted to move into the 4G world and started looking for something similar to the FONA 3G and also saw the Waveshare 7600 board like you did. So I recently got the "G" version (global, just so I could have all the bands), from the Waveshare storefront at Amazon to play around with:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0824P4B7M

Powered it up via "direct USB" (like in the FONA 3G tutorial) shown here starting on page 8:

https://www.waveshare.com/w/upload/6/6d ... ual-EN.pdf

And pretty quickly was able to make and receive calls. Also sent/received a couple texts.

Even tried it with two different sims, the first from my FONA 3G (SpeedTalk sim), the second from my regular phone (Cricket sim). Both worked fine, although I did have to learn about and use the AT+COPS command to get the board to register both times.

Eventually will hook this Waveshare board up to a Pi and/or Adafruit Feather (like my FONA 3G), but so far, so good, it works, no complaints!

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