Community interest in Verizon support for the Electron?

tl;dr - Community interest in Verizon support for the Electron?


I’m the co-founder and CTO at Tule, where we are building a remote sensor network that helps commercial agriculture companies monitor their water use. We are planning to build our next generation hardware on the Particle platform, and we were excited to see the recent announcement for the Electron (our sensors run on cellular). However, for our company, Verizon support is a must have - a large percentage of the fields we work in have no AT&T or TMobile coverage. Unfortunately that means that the standard Electron, which is planned to be GSM-only, won’t work for us.

I’m sure this same problem applies to other rural applications such as hiking, mining, equipment tracking, etc. With this in mind, we’re interested in gauging community interest for an effort to bring Verizon support to the Electron ecosystem.

It seems that there are 2 major obstacles that are preventing the Particle team from offering Verizon support in the initial release of the Electron:

  1. The larger uBlox Verizon modem is too large to fit on the proposed Electron PCB (which is built to be backwards compatible with the Core and Photon header layout)
  2. Verizon is not part of their MVNO program, therefore, they can’t offer painless activation and management of data on the Verizon network.

From our perspective, it would be worth the pain of initiating a direct relationship with Verizon and giving up footprint compatibility with the Photon, in exchange for getting Verizon-compatible hardware that works with the Particle software stack and device management tools.

Possible Solutions

The uBlox modems that the Particle team has selected for the Electron have been designed to solve this problem using a Nested Design architecture. As you can see in the following graphic, it is possible to support the Verizon modem (and 4G modems) by designing the PCB with 3 nested modem footprints:

At least 2 solutions are possible for the PCB layout:

  1. Make the board longer to accommodate the larger modem while maintaining the header layout of the Core and Photon
  • Pros:
    • Maintains header compatibility with the Core and Photons
    • Is compatible with breadboards
  • Cons:
    • Long shape requires larger enclosure
    • Probably more wasted PCB in manufacturing
  1. Make the board wider, breaking compatibility with the Core and Photon, but minimizing overall PCB size (and cost)
  • Pros:
    • PCB can be loaded with either AT&T or Verizon modems
    • Same PCB will be compatible with next generation uBlox modems
    • Most compact size for smaller enclosure
    • More efficient to manufacture
  • Cons:
    • Header not compatible with Core and Electron

With either of the above PCB layouts, the Electron firmware could be modified to support the Verizon modem. Thus, we could have all the benefits of the Particle over the air updates, secure communication, cloud services, etc, with coverage of the Verizon network.


Seeking input from the community:

  • How important is Verizon support to you? Will the GSM-only version of the Electron work for your application, or is Verizon support a requirement?
  • Would you be willing to contribute engineering or financial resources to build a Verizon compatible version of the Electron?
  • If you need Verizon support, which of the above PCB layouts do you prefer?


This effort is not intended to undermine the Particle team’s efforts. We would prefer to stay completely inside the Particle ecosystem rather than building custom hardware, but Verizon support is required for our business, so we need to find a solution. I have spoken to the Particle team about this initiative and they are supportive. Hopefully our work for building Verizon compatible firmware and hardware can be contributed back the Particle community.


I would like Verizon support too. Probably not able to dedicate time to development however.

Is the Lisa C200 3G (Ev-Do) compatible? It would be brutal to have to use 1xRTT at this point but power consumption of LTE is still rather high.

I too would like to see a Verizon compatible product. From our perspective, Verizon is the best network choice for our final product. We were hoping to use the Electron, for all reasons stated above. I vote yes!

Sorry for being late to this thread…I’m currently a Verizon Solution Partner and would love to have a Particle supported solution for 4LTE CAT M. I don’t want to have to go through the Verizon certification process again for a transition to CAT M devices. Verizon is still a fantastic network and I’m still sold on it after many years working with it. I like what Particle is doing with their platform. The lack of Verizon support is the one thing that keeps me from dedicating my product line to their platform and instead only using various devices in serial modem functionality and skipping Particle Cloud. That being said, anything from Particle in 4G/LTE on any carrier would at least be a transition story that could be told.

Hey everyone! With LTE CAT M1 and NB1 modules becoming available, it is unlikely that we will manufacture Verizon-compatible 2G or 3G hardware.

Our cellular portfolio will definitely expand to include LTE. It is unlikely that you would see a packaged solution until the end of 2017, but know that it is in our roadmap.


@will with all of the new modules from ublox, Telit, Sequant, and others becoming available can you share any updates about aCAT M1 Electron?

Sure thing. Although modules are beginning to clear cellular certifications, there are still no vendors who will have mass production availability of modules until end of Q3 / early Q4 at the earliest.

That being said, we are deep into exploration of LTE modules available on the market and are absolutely still intending to bring a solution to market as quickly as is possible. We’re very excited about the opportunity represented by LTE and intend to build a great new iteration of our cellular platform enables a smooth transition between our 2G/3G products and our new LTE ecosystem.

More news still to come!

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