E series 3rd party sim


#1

Hi :slight_smile:

Is it possible to use the E series with a 3rd party sim?

best regards


#2

There is no easy way to do that because the sim card is a SMD chip soldered down to the PCB. This SIM can’t be used on other carriers as far as we have been told.

Your not the first person to ask about this.


#3

This is sad! :frowning:


#4

Any statement from a developper?


#5

Hit up Particle directly @will


#6

If you don’t mind me asking what’s is your application for the Electron? Weather projects?

Also, you can Negotiate with particle for lower data pricing if that is the reason you’re wanting to go with a 3rd party provider.


#7

Hey there @electronweather.

You are correct that the E Series modules cannot be used with a 3rd party SIM. It sounds like you would prefer not to use Particle’s MVNO service. Can you tell us why? RWB is correct that our cellular data pricing becomes less expensive for product creators as they scale.


#8

Yes, I prefer a 3rd party SIM card because even in Switzerland (which is an expensive country) I get 500 MB for around 4 € (the cheapest offer), for me, it would have to be much cheaper because when I want to transmit 100 MB a month it would cost me 99 $!! (even if you would give me a 90 % discount it would be more than with a 3rd party sim!). You should give your users the opporunity to use a 3rd party sim (like you do it with the Electron :slight_smile: @will


#9

The reason I use a 3rd party sim (and therefor cannot use an E Series) is because my product needs to work in very rural areas in the US where smaller GSM carriers still exist. Since the Particle telephony partner doesn’t currently have roaming or m2m contracts with these carriers, the devices will not connect on these networks with a Particle SIM. It’s a huge bummer because the E Series solves a lot of issues and I would love to switch over, but for now it looks like a no go.


#10

@Will It looks like these SIM chips can be changed to work with other carriers based on this GSM presentation slide. Can you comment?

It looks like others could benefit from being able to use the E Series with whatever carrier works best for their application. It also looks like your going to lose opportunities to sell the E Series modules to people for whatever reason can’t use the Particle network.


#11

Exactly my opinion! Additionally I want to add that when it’s not possible to use the E series your product isn’t very interestring to industrial customers because they want to choose the provider whoch is the best for them.

@RWB @will


#12

Also just found some weekend reading.

A profile flashing tool (maybe in the console) would be ideal in the future, but wondering if in the near term, if it would be possible to give a profile from our carrier to the wholesale team when ordering as such that they could be flashed off the line? Just a thought.

@rickkas7


#13

Hey folks. Thanks for the additional information about the motivations for using 3rd party SIMs. I think that I can address some of the open questions and concerns around the E Series and the choice to use an embedded SIM with that hardware.

At the present time, there are two kinds of SIM cards that are widely available:

  1. 4FF “Nano” SIMs (plastic)
  2. Solderable, “embedded” SIMs

There is a tradeoff here between flexibility and reliability. With a Nano SIM, you can swap carriers simply by exchanging one SIM card for another in the included SIM card slot. However, the modular nature of this design can result in poor connections between the SIM and the pins of the connector due to poor mechanical fit, corrosion, vibration, etc. We don’t believe that this is the most reliable design choice for products at scale.

Embedded SIMs address the problem by being physically soldered to the PCB like any other electrical component. What you lose, however, is the flexibility of being able to swap one carrier for another on the fly.

There is a third, new kind of SIM specification which you cite above which is commonly referred to as eSIM that allows for the dynamic reprovisioning of embedded SIMs on the fly between cellular carriers. One thing to make very clear – eSIM, although it is very exciting, requires that each carrier build and integrate software that allows eSIM compatible SIMs to be dynamically provisioned into their database and billing plans. Very, very few major carriers have support for eSIM as of today, and it is unlikely that eSIM will achieve any kind of critical mass for widespread IoT adoption for potentially 1-2 more years. Like for LTE M1/NB1 which is just hitting mass market availability, marketing language is typically ~2 years ahead of commercial viability in the cellular industry.

We are really excited about eSIM, and plan to take advantage of the flexibility it affords to our customers as a primary feature of our cellular platform in the future. However, it’s not an option that we can provide today.

However, what we can do today is negotiate contracts with new carriers to add support to our MVNO service for enterprise customers who have requirements around particular carriers. We’re also able to offer pooled and larger MB plans for enterprise customers. Pricing decreases as you scale the size of your deployment and per device consumption. If you have questions about the present and future flexibility of our MVNO or hardware, I strongly encourage you to drop a note to our helpful sales team, who can give clear and honest feedback about cellular networks and pricing we can and cannot support.

Hope this post was helpful! Let me know if you have any follow-up questions.


#14

Could another option be an E0 without the embedded sim soldered to it? Seems like anyone using the E0 in a large scale way has someone assembling the PCB the E0 sits on for them – soldering a embedded sim to the E0 at time of assembly would not be much additional work.


#15

The automated assembly process requires that wet solder be applied with a solder stencil, the component automatically placed on the board, and then run through a reflow machine. There are some challenges with this that make it infeasible/impossible to add an embedded SIM to the E Series module as a secondary step:

  • You wouldn’t be able to apply the solder paste to the pad with an automated process because the other parts on the board would not allow the stencil to lay flat on the carrier PCB
  • The embedded SIMs are in a MFF2 package which does not have exposed pads, which means they could not be soldered manually.
  • A very nonstandard manufacturing process means that you would likely see high failure rates and very low participation from contract manufacturers
  • We could not offer warranties on “unfinished” electrical components that require a high-risk “finishing” step that we do not control (placing the embedded SIM)

Is this technically possible? I suppose so. Is it something that we believe would create a reliable end-product? Unfortunately not.


#16

Very informative post. The one thing I didn’t quite catch is whether the eSIM on the E Series can be reprovisioned. If so, then this makes sense to buy this product today, in anticipation of market evolutions in 2-3 years.

Particle’s rates are competitive today, but understandably no manager will feel comfortable irrevocably committing to a single provider across the life of an IoT product. Changes in data plans, market focus, etc… can all lead to our business model not exactly aligning with Particle’s MVNO model, and at that point it should be possible for us to go it alone if so desired.


#17

@kubark42 the embedded SIM on the E Series cannot be reprovisioned as of today.

Particle, as an MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator) is in the same boat that end consumers are in many ways. We also anticipate and look forward to the flexibility that eSIM will theoretically afford. The idea of shipping a single SKU with the option for mobility between network providers to mitigate risk and best serve the specific needs of the customer is a really appealing concept.

This is exactly why eSIM is being developed. Today, there is not a widely available and commercially viable way of committing to a carrier and changing the service provider down the road without access to the hardware and physically swapping a plastic removable SIM. This is impossible for devices in permanent enclosures or deployed in remote locations, and carries its own risks (SIM corrosion and vibration) when deployed in an industrial product with an expected lifespan of multiple years.

Compared to a gigantic MNO like AT&T, for instance, Particle is much more likely to be responsive to a changing marketplace and to provide our customers with the largest possible number of carrier choices, since our primary business is not selling access to a specific cellular infrastructure that we own and operate, but providing our customers with a complete IoT solution that satisfies the needs of their product.