Cellular Connectivity in Australia

Hi Particles,

Been away from the forum for a while but have tried finding information on what happens to Electrons once the 3G network from Telstra (Australia) shuts down in June 2024. The Electron units I have connect via the SARA – 280 cell interface, so I assume they will be useless for 4G LTE or 5G. Will they be able to take the new EtherSIM?

I also have the e-Series eval’ kit, which I purchased over a year ago but have never fired up – will this work with the EtherSIM? It is a 2g / 3g kit with embedded Particle SIM, but I don’t think LTE was an option for Australia.

Any links or advice would be appreciated.

While Telstra is planning to shut down 3G in June 2024, Optus plans to continue 3G on 900 MHz (but not 2100 MHz), and Vodafone has not announced a shutdown date.

If you have an Electron U260 (Americas), it will be unable to connect because it previously only connected to Telstra on 3G B5 (850 MHz). The EtherSIM won’t help as it’s a band issue, not a SIM issue.

If you have an Electron U270 (EMEAA), it will continue to work on Optus 3G B8 (900 MHz).

If you have a Boron BRN310, it will continue to connect to Vodafone 3G on B8 (900 MHz).

The BRN314 can connect to Optus, Vodafone, and Telstra and will continue to connect to Optus and Vodafone after the Telstra 3G shutdown.

The recommended model for Australia is the B Series SoM B524, which supports LTE Cat 1 with 2G/3G fallback and will continue to work in Australia on all three carriers.

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Thanks @rickkas7 , that about covers everything. Though i should be noted that Optus and Vodaphone have lousy coverage in regional areas in Australia. I have four unused (as yet) U260 Electrons that will effectively be bricks after June 2024, so not worth deploying to regional areas (around Townsville Nth Queensland - very dodgy connection from all carriers). But committed to the Particle platform, so will invest in integrating the B Series SoM B524 but can you confirm it is this model?

Which is EtherSim, and the documentation states * Support for Europe only at this time - and ships in 56 weeks! I could find no other option on the particle pricing page.
Is the intention EtherSim will operate in Australia by that time?
Please understand I greatly appreciate your response - if I should take this up with sales or elsewhere at Particle, just let me know.

The store listing for the B524MEA is wrong. That apparently was copied from the B523MEA, which is the earlier, non-EtherSIM model which is Europe only.

The B524MEA with EtherSIM is fully supported in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. I updated the description in the retail and wholesale stores, though the name of the item is still the same because I’m not positive I can change that without breaking anything.

Thanks, really appreciate your effort and advice.

Thanks for bringing this one up @DRCO and the comprehensive response @rickkas7 … I am using (a single!) E U260 on Aldi (Telstra) for now, but have a U270 spare in case I need to switch to Optus/Vodafone. However, I need to think about the future, so it looks like I will have to lash up a board to plug the B524MEA M2 format into the existing Electron DIP header at some point.
I may be interested in buying one of your E260 ‘bricks’ as a spare, if you’re interested in selling…
Cheers, Andrew

Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind but at this stage it looks like I may need them - new project, not to worried about the 3G sunset. Will advise if that changes. Please note, I had a follow up conversation with Particle Sales, who advised they are working on a E-Series form compatible device that will not be impacted by the global component problems, and so have a shorter lead time than 56 weeks - I’ll be watching closely

Do I understand that this is an E-series format board as opposed to the B524’s?. Particle Sales told me about the new processor development but did not mention the format. In many ways that would suit me fine.

I am in a similar bind having just had a project funded to develop 15 prototypes of a medical instrument over the next 12 months to find that I am unable to purchase more than two 3G processors and no 4G processors.

In the near term I may be forced to use Argon’s. If I have to go the Wifi route I will also review whether to abandon the Particle environment altogether and use EPS32’s. Not something I would do lightly but it is not without its benefits as well as costs.

I am hopeful that this new development will fix this issue in the next 6 months or so but having previously had my fingers burnt with Particle’s Boron LTE and Xenon processors I am understandably wary.

It would be nice to know the timescale for details of the board format etc become available.

Here’s hoping.,
BDW

Sorry - you’re right. the form is the B524, which uses the Vodaphone network on the particle eSIM. I have a test unit and was only getting 29% network cellular signal for the device in Sydney, so a bit concerned about how it’d go in Wagga Wagga, Berri or Townsville - Telstra is the only carrier with any sort of regional coverage. I’ve had a look at ESP32 options and Arduino cloud (which looks pretty good, with better scalable pricing) but I’m pretty committed to the Particle platform, I’m probably going to look at using a Photon and LTE WiFi router like this one:

Thanks. Unfortunately your router solution is impractical in my case - a medical instrument in a case the size of a blood pressure monitor.

Like you I am heavily invested (and indeed prefer) the Particle environment. However the timescales for additional devices concerns me - I have tried without success to get an estimate. I have been looking for an indication of potential availability but it is a chicken and egg situation - you have to place an order before you will be told what the delay will be.

I fully understand and am not unsympathetic to the situation Particle find themselves in but I have an 12-18 month schedule and need to know whether I should continue down the Particle route or adopt an alternative such as Pycom’s Gpy. I was burnt by the Boron LTE and Xenon processors and so am understandably cautious.

For mine, I’d be happy if they just upgraded the Electron, which I’ve had operating in tough environments for nearly 4 years and never missed a beat. That said, tech moves on and you have to move with it. I reckon a LoRa / Cell Particle gateway, with LoRa nodes would be awesome - I think they sorta had that in mind with the gen 3 MESH products but it was never going to work in the real world with such short range.
Anyhoo, way things are in the world I don’t see the supply chain stuff improving in the near term, so I might be using radio for a node network, talking to an electron as a gateway until the 3G sunset.