[Update 1/21] Intermittent SIM management issues

Hey ESharp,

We have noticed an increase in downtime with this particular. Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to reliably track when this or is not up, as this is an issue with our telephony partner and nothing within our own system.

While we would very much like to unblock our customers on this issue, we are limited in our capacity to address it is the issue lies on our vendor’s system.

Please rest assured we are working with our vendor, doing all that we can to resolve this as quickly as possible.

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Hello David,

I do a apologize for the frustration.

Technically speaking, the issue is not necessarily with the Electron itself, but simply, the SIM card provided with it.The SIM card is one that is managed by our telephony partner. At this time, we recognize that their API is having significant downtimes, making it not possible to activate SIM cards at this time.

Rest assured, the issue is not with the SIM card or the Electron.

If you have a third party SIM card available, it should be possible to make use of a third party SIM to get your Electron up and running while we await for a resolution with our MVNO partner.

Many thanks for your reply.

I have considered using a third party SIM for my initial testing. However, as far as I understand, this would preclude me from having access to the cloud service. If there was a possibility for me to be granted access to the cloud service while using my third party SIM, that would be perfect. Since my Particle SIM hasn’t been activated yet I have the three months of free access.

Nope, it doesn’t.
As many threads show you can use the cloud with 3rd party SIMs, but you need to tell your device to use some alternative APN credentials and will have considerably shorter keep alive periodes to keep the connection alive (default 23 minutes - commonly 60-300sec).


FWIW, having the same issue with an E-Series LTE. Flashed firmware update and then tried to register. No dice.

Regular updates would be appreciated, given that this is a blocking issue.


When does the three months of free access begin if you haven’t activated the Particle SIM?

I’ve spent five hours getting the CLI working on my Mac and flashing a blinky project. My university project involves reading BMS data via an SMBus interface, I’m keen to get this data broadcasting to the cloud as soon as possible.

Cloud access is free for the first 100 devices (apart from Mesh setups, which is a different topic).
The 3 months of free data only start after you’ve activated the SIM, and are bound to that SIM, not the device/cloud.

With a 3rd party SIM card, you should be good to go, and still have full cloud access. You’ll need to include some specifics in your code as mentioned by @ScruffR above, but other than that, you should be fine.

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Oh that’s fantastic, thank you for the clarification. On the pricing page that isn’t clear at all. I had assumed the “first 100 devices” was only applicable to wi-fi devices and not cellular.

I have several GiffGaff sims with bonus credit, hopefully I will be able to make use of them with pay as you go.

Hey there Leo,

Just to clarify, you are explicitly getting the error message about our backend service being unable to process the request?

We are investigating issues with the E Series LTE as well–but they should be different. The LTE E series do not make use of the same MVNO as our Electron/E Series 2G/3G global–so they should be unaffected by this particular issue.

Could you describe to me the issue you are having with your E Series LTE?

Hey David!

It looks like @ScruffR and @Moors7 were able to clarify this for you. But just to re-iterate–you can still use the device cloud with a third party SIM! The language isn’t exactly clear–but yes, access to the cloud is free for the first 100 devices.

For cellular, our pricing models are specific to the SIM and data connectivity. If you provide your own SIM, these costs don’t apply as we’re not managing your cellular connectivity overhead.

Your three months free are for the SIM’s overhead management fee. This begins from the moment you activate the SIM, specifically. So once this issue is resolved and you activate your SIM, the clock starts ticking then.

Just to clarify on this for others, the $2.99 fee is for SIM management specifically. It is applied regardless of whether data is used or not. If the SIM is active, this is charged as there is overhead to keep it active with the MVNO.

This $2.99 is waived in the first 3 months after activation, making it free.

Every single month (including the first 3), the first 3 MB of data are free–as in, we do not charge per MB for these first 3 in any case. After 3 MB, we do charge for additional MBs. This holds true in the first 3 months as well. So if you use 5 MB in the first month after activation, you are still responsible for the 2 MB over even though we waived the $2.99

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Yep, that is the message:

Our back-end service could not process your request. If this message persists, please contact support.

It didn’t work last night or this morning or just now…


That’s certainly concerning. Could you open up a support ticket or private message me here and provide me with the device ID and ICCID? I’d like to investigate this further.


My device is finally “breathing” cyan, but I’m still getting the error that the back end can’t process request. Please advise.


Hey Joe,

That’s unusual indeed. I’ll want to dig into this further. Could you provide me with the ICCID and email of your Particle account in either private messages or in a support request?

Hey everyone, a bit of an update on this situation.

We are still investigating intermittent activation issues, but during our investigations, we have also noticed that a recent bug may have manifested itself in the UI.

For users that seem to be experiencing a total shutout on the activation flow on setup.particle.io, it is possible that the setup flow is not properly handling the flow for users who do not have payment information on file.

Users who do not have info on file should be prompted to first add their information before continuing, but instead are receiving the same error message for those who are experiencing activation failure.

You can check to see if you have payment info on file by visiting the following page in your console at: https://console.particle.io/billing

Although the first three months of SIM management fees are waived, it is still possible to be charged if you exceed 3 MB in the first three months of waived usage. As such, this is why we require a card on file prior to setting up of Particle SIMs.

Should anyone have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

@leo3linbeck I believe this may be the case of your LTE MVNO activation failure.

@DavidB @ESharpAxe @AMarcelo if each of you could also double check this, this may be applicable to your circumstances as well. As each of yours is Electron/E Series – should it not activate after adding payment info (provided you do not have it) the first time, do give it a short delay and try again.

I’m very happy to report that entering my billing information into the link you provided allowed me to activate the SIM. My first attempt failed, but after about half an hour, my second attempt succeeded.

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So it seems my issue was actually a billing issue. Though the first three months of service are included, a credit card is required to be on file to manage any data overages. The error notification could indicate something of the sort in the future. Thanks for your assistance!

Hey Ociffer,

Thanks for the update! In the midst of our telephony API issue, we also acknowledged a UI issue that was not properly notifying users of the fact they would need to provide payment information first.

So do note, while is intended, a bug in the UX flow was not properly notifying users of this. At this time however, it should be resolved and functioning as intended.

Obviously it’s been a few months since the issue was raised, but since I’ve finally had time to go back to tinkering with my Electron, I figured I’d give a quick update.

It looks like the necessary improvements have been made so that I have been asked for payment information as part of the activation process. My Electron is now activated and I’ve had a good go at the tutorial.

Many thanks to all who contributed. For me it’s now time to work out how to interface the Electron with my multi-cell BMS via I2C…