LTE for Raspberry Pi simplifies the Deployment of IoT

It is all good news for IoT projects that are at the mercy of Wi-Fi connection. A new device called the 4GPi from MechaTracks has initiated the provision of more economical connectivity solutions for Internet of Things (IoT) projects where reliance on stable Wi-Fi connection is practically impossible.

MechaTracks, a Japanese company, announced the launch of its 4G LTE add-on board called 4GPi which is designed for Raspberry Pi. According to a report, this 4GPi, popularly called a HAT is the first commercially manufactured add-on board that provides CAT4 LTE connectivity for Raspberry Pi. The report mentioned that the add-on board offers 150Mbps download speeds and 10Mbps upload.

According to MechaTracks, the driver support for 4GPi add-on board is offered for the Raspbian, a “flavor” or variation of the Lixus Distro Debian. The 4GPi entails extension pins made for the Raspberry Pi GPIO connector which makes it feasible for it to be used with other HATs. It is important to mention that the add-on board is compatible with any other Raspberry Pi model, as long as it has the 40-pin GPIO header. Currently, these models include the Pi Zero and Zero W, Pi 1 A+ and B+, Pi 3 Model B and B+, and Pi 2 Model B.

The company announced that the 4GPi will be on sale from the 1st of November for a price of ¥25000 JPY (that is, €195 EUR or $222 USD) with similar products being sold on for less than $100 USD.

The chipset that is compatible with the 4GPI also supports LTE bands across 1, 3, 8, 18, 19, as well as 26. Interestingly, these bands are the most commonly used in Japan, Thailand, Australia, India, New Zealand, Korea, and of course, across South America and Europe. Based on the chipset documents, this variation doesn’t have fall-back capacities for HSPA/UMTS or EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks.

Although the price of 4GPi is a bit expensive when compared to the standard Raspberry Pi-board, the blend of both is still significantly more cost effective than some other LTE connected manufactured devices available in the market. This, therefore, makes it a more attractive alternative for projects that need mobile network connectivity, especially security and asset tracking, digital signage, and environmental/agricultural usage cases, where the reliance on stable Wi-Fi connectivity is difficult.

No doubt, as mobile network providers get ready for the mass deployment of 5G, current IoT devices that depend on legacy 3G networks will surely require an alternative connectivity solution so as to retain their connectivity. Verizon recently stopped the activation of devices that support only 3G which makes new implementations of devices that depend on its legacy CDMA network impracticable.

By the end of 2019, it is expected that Verizon as well as other mobile carriers within the US and across the world would have decommission their 3G CDMA infrastructure. However, T-Mobile and AT&T are yet to disclose their strategy for network administration.

The increase in IoT devices and its attendance connectivity requirements has driven the FCC to take steps to release more spectrums for varying level of medium range communications. For instance, the FCC collectively voted on the 23rd of October, to create 1200MHs spectrum in 6GHz band for various unlicensed devices, including Wi-Fi routers, cordless landline phones, baby monitors, among others.

Gilbert A Darrell is the Founder of Horizon Communications. He has 18 years experience in information technology and telecom solutions, a veteran in Fire and EMS Services, A member of the Bermuda Fire Service Advisory Board, a crypto enthusiast and a member of the Bermuda Government’s Cryptocurrency Task Force.

Horizon Communications is an upcoming fixed wireless internet and cellular service provider looking to provide services in Bermuda, the Caribbean, and Central America before expanding internationally, utilizing 4th generation and soon 5th generation wireless technology.