One of the things holding cellular back when it comes to the Internet of Things is the reliance by most manufacturers on cheap 2G hardware that is quickly becoming obsolete as 2G network are being turned off around the world.
The new E-Series is an LTE Cat-M1 device. The Cat-M1 standard is designed for IoT and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connectivity, and has medium data rates—around 375 kbps in half-duplex mode. Because it handles hand‑over between cell towers similarly to ‘normal’ high-speed LTE, Cat-M1 is ideal for mobile use cases—for instance installation in vehicles—unlike the LTE NB‑IoT standard which has been optimised for the lowest power, lowest cost, and lowest throughput devices.
No doubt on the drawing board well before Particle’s recent acquisition of RedBear Lab, yesterday’s announcement of the new E-Series boards won’t the last hardware I’d expect to see from Particle this year. I’d predict we’ll see them cover their bets in the low-data rate, long-range, protocol war so we might see LoRaWAN and perhaps SigFox-compatible hardware joining their current line up.
You can pick up an evaluation kit for the new E-Series on the Particle store for $89, while individual modules are priced at $69. However, although the new LTE Evaluation Kit is available to order, right now the lead time before it ships is still between 6 to 8 weeks. So don’t expect it on your door mat tomorrow.