Are you building something that requires a GSM/GPRS modem or looking for a GSM modem for your next IoT project? GSM modems are widely used in several connected devices and applications.
GSM is an acronym for Global Systems for Mobile, and GPRS refers to a General Packet Radio Service. A GSM module is a device that uses mobile technology to provide a wireless data link to a network. GPRS adds packet-switching technology, allowing information to be transmitted via mobile networks. It’s standard on the 2G and 3G cellular communication networks.
Several connected devices use a cellular network for data communication with a remote server or IoT platform. Applications, such as vehicle or asset tracking systems and smart farming systems, rely on cellular networks and GSM/GPRS modems for connectivity.
The 2G modems like the SIM800 and SIM900 series were commonly used until recently. As embedded systems and the IoT frequently work together as a technology stack, the limitations of 2G modems as a cellular network solution have quickly become apparent.
Switching to 4G modems for cellular connectivity in IoT devices is necessary. (Note: LPWAN is another solution, but it is mainly reserved for industrial applications). So far, the 5G modems are too costly of an option and unnecessary for typical IoT projects.
Fortunately, the cost of 4G modems has substantially decreased. At the same time, the availability of these modems has also increased as they slowly begin to replace 2G modems. In India, GSM modems are supplied mainly by SIMCOM, a Chinese manufacturer.
Let’s discuss the top 4G modems available in India.
The era of 2G mobile technology is over. It’s likely 2G modems will become obsolete and non-functional in many countries in the near future, so it’s important to upgrade to 4G. Initially, 4G modems were nearly 20 times more expensive than the much slower 2G modems, but that’s changed.
Now, manufacturers like SIMCOM offer 4G modems that are double the cost of 2G ones — which is a vast improvement in affordability. The 4G modems are faster and far more capable. They’re useful for building IoT-connected devices and embedded products that rely on a cellular network.
The top 4G modem
Currently, the most affordable and feature-friendly 4G modem in India is SIMCOM’s A7672. It costs about $6.50 US, which is substantially cheaper than the UBLOX LARA and TELIT 4G modems (at about 55~60 USD).
The A7672 supports all 4G networks (in India), including LTE-CAT1, with the ability to fall back to 2G if necessary. The modem includes GPS/GNSS, WiFi scan, and Bluetooth. It also works with BSNL SIM cards (although BSNL is not expected to offer 4G services in India until 2024).
SIMCOM’s A7672 has two variants in India. The A7672 FASE offers an inbuilt Bluetooth and GNSS for as low as 750 INR per unit. Although the A7672 LASE does not have Bluetooth and GNSS, it’s available for as low as 650 INR per unit.
It’s worth noting that the A7672 modem variants available for:
- India are A7672S FASE and A7672S LASE
- Europe are A7672E FASE and A7672E LASE
- The United States and South America are A7672SA FASE and A7672SA LASE. Both the A7672SA and A7672E cost 8.5~10 USD.
The A7672 modems are gaining popularity, thanks to their low cost, capabilities, and features like WiFi, Bluetooth, and GNSS/GPS — all in one chip. The chip also supports FOTA (Firmware Over the Air) updates and dual SIM. Evaluation boards for A7672 are also available from some vendors.
Other 4G modems from SIMCOM that are available in similar price range include the A7682E, A7672G, A7676E, A7602E, SIM7600G, and SIM7600X. A comparison of the features are summarized below.
You may also like:
Filed Under: IoT, Tech Articles
Questions related to this article?
👉Ask and discuss on EDAboard.com and Electro-Tech-Online.com forums.
Tell Us What You Think!!
You must be logged in to post a comment.