LTE, 4G or 3G difference and compatibility with Boron

Looking at placing an order, the area that I plan on using the Boron (No wifi available) shows as 4G NOT 4G LTE. Do you have a recommendation on which version of the Boron (LTE vs 3G) that I should go with? This is AT&T in the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Hmm… if I am not wrong,

Boron LTE refers to NB-IoT and Cat-M1 specifically and not the typical LTE that we use in our mobile.

The 3G version should be ideal for your case.

Hey @petek157 – the quote we have from AT&T is the following:

So, @kennethlimcp, since AT&T does not yet illustrate LTE-M1 separately on their coverage maps, they’re asking us to use their LTE coverage as a proxy, since they will have 100% LTE-M1 rollout over existing LTE populations in a few months (before July).

@petek157 Your question regarding 4G LTE vs. 4G is well understood. Conservatively I would suggest that it refers to 4G LTE coverage, but I would have to follow up with AT&T to confirm.

What does the coverage in that area look like if you disable 4G and select 3G instead? Typically LTE coverage looks like a superset of 3G coverage, so I’d be curious to know if you have 3G in your area if LTE is a question mark.


The location that I am planning for this test project is at my cottage, which Im planning on visiting this weekend. Ill see if my iPhone shows LTE there and try turning it off and see if it will pull back to 3 or 4g.

So the way Im taking this then is… with the view of my map attached, because the orange area is not LTE but rather 4G and ATT is saying that all LTE areas will be converted to M1 then the orange area may not be the area that they are talking about. The red area is the area that they are say they are converting to M1. If I understand you post correctly.

Truthfully 3G would be enough speed, but I dont want to get the slower tech if I can use the faster one.

Either way, this mesh system is eerily timed as I just started designing a local network via wifi to connect a bunch of photons. Well, Ill scrap that and wait till July.

Thanks for your input guys.

Hi @will!
Why not use SARA-R412M-02B? This model also supports EGPRS. This would be great for Europe :slight_smile:

AFAIK the speed factor does not really apply here as these devices are not aiming at full LTE throughput but typical IoT topics like power consumption, concurency (narrow band), range/penetration, …

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For me I guess than its more just getting one that will work. I took a chance and ordered a couple LTE’s (and a BUNCH others) so we will see in July. Keep up the good work guys.

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That device is just announced but will not be available for engineering sample until 2H 2018.

Indeed – LTE coverage is not really about speed but cost of hardware, carrier coverage, and longevity of support.


@peekay123, Since you are more knowledgeable about Particle products and IoT than I am, I wanted to ask if you are aware of what might be in store to support LTE in Canada, or is it still only the 3G for the foreseeable future? I would like to take advantage of the range and power consumption of the Boron LTE in my designs if possible.

Thanks for any feedback!

@cyclin_al, the ONLY provider that announced it would be deploying LTE-M1 in Canada is Bell and that was in June 2017 I believe. No timing, no further announcements. I am very frustrated with this lack of direction by Canadian operators. I can’t even find any LoraWan gateways in Ottawa!

The short answer is stick with 3G for now. :confused:

@peekay123, Thanks for the response! I assumed that would be the case; I find it disappointing, especially given the advertising by these telcos…

I will plan conservatively, and stick with 3G for now.

@cyclin_al, I always feel we are in the dark ages in Canada. Not enough competition!

@peekay123 thanks for replying.

Even if we don’t expect it to be soon, can we be confident LTE-M1 is going to be available in Canada at some point? I’ve got a Boron LTE preordered and I’m thinking of adding a second. If it’s going to be mid 2019, I’m still okay with that but I’d hate to still be sitting on these things 2 years out with no idea if I’ll ever be able to use them.

I don’t like the idea of the 3G because it feels like buying into old tech. And to pay that much more to be stuck with old tech just feels too wrong and I’d rather wait on 4G if it’s going to happen.

@DevRandom, I think the whole issue is that there is no confidence at all. I am not a professional in the field, and I could not find any information concerning roll-out plans. I think @peekay123 deals with technology issues like this professionally. If he does not have an inside scoop, then there is likely nothing we can assume with any confidence.

I feel the same way. The feeling was heightened having to see the advertising by the Canadian telcos during the Olympics, meanwhile the reporters at the Olympics were talking about how South Korea is leaps and bounds ahead of Canada in terms of internet and mobile access!

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@will is it possible to use the LTE-M1 Boron with a 3rd party SIM that supports Cat M1? I’m living in Germany and we have a provider (Deutsche Telekom) that offers NB-IoT/M1 coverage over the whole country.

@DevRandom, I agree with @cyclin_al. At this time there is nothing to support Bell’s statement on deploying LTE-M1 in 2018. Rogers and Telus haven’t even mentioned it. I don’t have an inside scoop so from what I see, there are no assurances whatsoever.

Yes, it should be possible. That being said, unless you have spoken directly with the carrier and they have provided you with actual SIMs, I would be suspicious of claims that both networks are already commercially deployed.

This recent article from end of January 2018 states that, although Deutsche Telekom has deployed NB-IoT test networks in multiple locations, it does not look like a nationwide rollout has been complete anywhere but the Netherlands. Furthermore, once the rollout is “complete”, carriers like AT&T and Verizon only provided sample access to a very small number of SIMs for up to 6 months after that date. Furthermore, I know that Deutsche Telecom has been an evangelist of NB-IoT, and I haven’t seen any mention of a LTE M1 rollout yet.

My point is only that the carriers’ incentive is to create demand on the device side for these new technologies in order to offset the risk of the extremely expensive network upgrades, which results in aggressive marketing messaging that suggests that networks are “ready to go” sometimes even 6-12 months before they’re really open to large scale commercial deployments.

Let us know what you find!

@cyclin_al and @peekay123 , thank you both for your replies. It’s not what I want to hear and I guess I won’t be adding a second Boron LTE to my preorder.

I still need to decide what to do about the one already in my preorder. I’ll probably still get it since between international shipping and losing the pre-order pricing, it will cost $25 more to get it later and I am prepared to be patient for it to be supported…

@DevRandom, buy the LTE-M1 cause it’s coming sooner or later. Buy 3G to use now and learn the new mesh stuff!

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