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

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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I will keep you updated. Besides the own current business packages, Deutsche Telekom is partnering with to provide a NB-IoT SIM in it’s network (500 MB, 10 years, one.time fee of 10 EUR). I requested one, let’s see…

How much more efficient is the Boron LTE vs the Electron 3G in terms of power consumption?

No official data was presented on that. Maybe @rickkas7 has done his own research on that already an can share.
But the fact that the device comes without a LiPo suggests at least that the 500mA of a standard USB 2.0 port shoud be enought to power the device and allow for all cell communication. Something unthinkable with the Electron.

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@freck, just to be clear. The LTE used by the Boron is LTE-M1 and not conventional high-bandwidth LTE. LTE-M1is a protocol specifically designed for low power IoT-type applications. The Boron uses the Ublox SARA-401M if you want to look at its specs.


There are too many factors to consider to be able to paint with a broad brush, esp. because range to the cell tower has a sizable impact but switching from 3G to LTE-M1 might mean switching to a more distant (or closer!) tower. However, generally peak load and nominal loads will go down significantly. For our application which uses around 500mW right now, I would be surprised to see less than a 10% drop moving to the Boron. I would also be surprised to see a greater than 90% drop.

Also, as @ScruffR points out, the drop in surge current is considerable and has allowed Particle to stop requiring power supplies with a peak output 20 times nominal. This is probably the biggest advantage for us.

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