Digital Matter 4G Devices – FAQs

Digital Matter Support

Our previous article is packed with useful information about 4G LTE-M and CAT-NB1. If you haven’t read it yet, go and read it now. This article addresses some common questions we receive.

Digital Matter has several 4G LTE-M and NB-IoT devices in production. See the range here.

We have 4G in my Country. Will the Digital Matter 4G Devices Work Here?

Remember the difference between 4G/LTE optimized for speed (CAT 1 and up, for smartphones) and 4G/LTE optimized for power and range, sacrificing speed (CAT M1 and NB1).

Our devices fall into the latter category. Our 4G modem is an LTE CAT M1/NB1 modem. It currently has no fall back to other technologies. There must be a CAT M1 or NB1 network in your country.

The devices will not work on your general CAT1 4G network.

Why Doesn’t Digital Matter Make 4G CAT1 Devices?

CAT M1/NB1 networks are ideal for tracking devices. The combination of low power, long-range, and lower cost modules make these new technologies ideal for our device suite, particularly in the battery-powered space. The industry is moving strongly in this direction and we believe in the long term prospects of these technologies.

For countries with no CAT M1/NB1 coverage, we have 2G and 3G options. Forward-thinking countries that are sunsetting 2G and 3G are generally rolling out CAT M1/NB1 networks.

How Can I see the Cat M1/NB-IoT Coverage Around the World?

The best starting point is the GSMA coverage map. This will indicate which technology is in which country, and which network is operating it.

https://www.gsma.com/iot/deployment-map/

Then local contacts are best. We have seen networks in different states of readiness.

Which CAT M1/NB-IoT Networks Have you Used?

The list is growing each week. So far:

Australia: Telstra (M1) and Vodafone (NB1 – although DNS doesn’t appear to work)
Belgium: Orange (NB1)
Germany: Deutsche Telekom (M1)
Netherlands: KPN (M1)
New Zealand: Spark (M1) and Vodafone (NB1)
South Africa: Vodacom (NB1 – although DNS doesn’t appear to work)
USA: AT&T (M1)

Will Global Roaming Sims Work in These Devices?

We’ve seen mixed results. Roaming between networks seems to be a challenge with M1/NB1. Some global SIM providers rule out roaming for now and say that they are testing it.

We have seen success with the likes of Aeris running AT&T SIMs. They simply have an AT&T SIM running on the AT&T network.

We have also seen a foreign roaming SIM from Europe roaming on the AT&T network.

And we have seen other foreign roaming SIMs failed to work on the AT&T network. It seems everyone is learning in this space.

However, local SIMs on local networks do seem to be very reliable. Australia and the US are proving this. They have been working well.

What About APNS On CAT M1/NB-IoT?

We are happy to report that we’ve had no need for APNs so far. The devices attach to the network with a blank APN, and the network configures the required APN on the device. This greatly simplifies our provisioning process, as you don’t have to set up an APN to get online (as you do on 2G/3G).

Is CAT M1/NB-IoT Cheaper?

We don’t often engage with networks regarding pricing. This is a reseller responsibility as they manage the SIM cards. However, the starting point seems to be “no difference” in pricing – whatever you were paying on 2G/3G/4G. Several networks do appear to be considering long term (up to 10 years) super-low data (hundreds of bytes per day) packages at very low prices (a few dollars per year).

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