The first mobile phone systems were purely analogue, and the devices that supported them tended to be bulky and inefficient. As digital technology became viable, these were replaced with what are now called ‘2G’ systems.

2G systems were digital, which allowed for much better spectrum utilisation and for mobile handsets to be made smaller and more efficient. The first 2G systems launched with the GSM standard, which was later expanded by EDGE to enable higher speed. 2G would typically offer only 40kbit/s of speed, and this was only somewhat improved by EDGE. The 2G network in Australia was retired in 2017, with some telco’s shutting theirs down earlier. The spectrum previously allocated for 2G has been reallocated, some of it now being used in 3G or 4G systems. 2G devices no longer work in Australia as a result. 2G is still used in Europe and some other areas, so support for it is still offered by some products.

3G was released to replace 2G in 1998. It could deliver at least 200kbps and was more focussed on data and packet traffic compared to 3G. UMTS and CDMA are examples of 3G technology. EDGE and other 2G technologies remained compatible with 3G, which helped speed adoption. 3G was later expanded into ‘3.5G’ which added HSPA, which enabled speeds as high as 337Mbit/s in theory, though in practice it was much more limited. 3G was then expanded with HSPA+, which added even more speed.

4G superseded 3G in 2008. It provided for even greater speed and switched from a circuit-switched to a packet-switched model for all data. 4G was boosted by the removal of analogue TV, which freed up more spectrum to use for cellular data. Telstra refer to their implementation of this spectrum as 4GX, using Band 28. For those in less populated areas, 4GX provides the best coverage on the Telstra Network.

4G has also been expanded to include 4G cat M1 and NB-IoT Technologies. This promise a lower-cost, lower-power but lower-speed solution for applications that don’t need the extra performance of 4G.

5G devices have been prototyped and demonstrated but are not yet available for purchase. 5G promises even higher performance, boosted by new mmWave frequency bands and massive MiMo for signal shaping.

Customers buying devices now should purchase a 4G solution. 3G devices are dated, and not likely to be well supported going into the future.

A modem is a device that gets you internet connectivity but does not perform any packet routing or filtering functions.

A router is a device that provides packet routing. Typically, a router is a smart device, and includes additional features such as firewalling, DHCP and DNS. This is the case with our eSAM and Ultra eSAM routers, which are both modems and routers within the same device. These devices are also referred to as ‘modem-routers’, ‘gateways’, or ‘Ethernet Modems’.

IoT, a term that has fast become a buzzword, refers to the idea of connecting devices to the internet that are not traditionally internet enabled. Consumer examples include clocks, coffee machines, freezers, and baby monitors. The concept of IoT is to link all things together over the internet to allow them to be controlled, monitored and automated across the internet. This includes features like turning devices on or off at certain times of the day or making one device control another unrelated device.

IoT is also being deployed in Commercial and some Industrial applications. Examples include automating street lights, such that they can report if they develop a fault and can be set to behave differently depending on any local events or changing weather conditions.

IoT technologies require connectivity. When this is not readily available by Wi-Fi or Ethernet, 4G modems provide a cost-effective option for getting your devices online.

M2M is an abbreviation of Machine-To-Machine. This term predates the modern trend of IoT and is used to refer to any two devices that communicate between each other over a network. An example of this would be a smart meter or an automated vending machine. These devices communicate between each other without human intervention.

The SAM modem can be set to work is SAMMODE 0 or SAMMODE 1. In SAMMODE 0 the modem acts as a typical AT command modem, with some additional commands added by the SAM modem to those used by the Module Manufacturer.

In SAMMODE 1, the modem takes sole control of the LTE module and the Serial port is used as a data port. The modem itself then acts as a TCP, UDP or SMS server awaiting connections to it. It then forwards this data to the Serial port to provide remote access to whatever dumb serial device it is connected to.

The SAM modem is configured using AT commands. You connect to the modem by the Serial port, and then send commands to specify your desired settings. This is best achieved using the SAM Terminal software, which is able to automatically identify the modems configuration and lets you use a graphical interface to configure it.

If you have a SAM4Q, SAMX or certain older modems then your modem will have a mini USB connector. In this case, you can connect the modem to your computer by the USB cable. This will supply both power and data. Next, you need to install the drivers provided for the module. Afterwards you should have access to a number of devices including an AT command COM port.

All our modems have DE9 serial as a solution. This is provided using the RJ-45 Port and included adapter cable. You must connect your modem to power with this adapter (included power supply is recommended) and then connect the DE9 Serial port to your computer. If your computer does not have a DE9 port, then you can use a USB to DE9 Serial adapter to achieve the same result.

When operating on a public network, it is important to secure the modem against outside attack. Depending on how you are using the modem, the modem will be vulnerable in different ways. It is important you consider security when deciding how to deploy the modem.

The minimal steps we suggest taking to provide protection are:

  1. Set a non-default username and password
  2. Disable remote SSH
  3. Consider moving the UI to a port other than 80
  4. Close any open ports to your devices you don’t need to use
  5. Consider using a whitelist/blacklist approach where possible

Please contact us for more advice on security.

To change the login of the modem, you must first log in with the default credentials:
Username:         admin
Password:           admin
Once logged in, open the System>Account window. On this screen you can change the login and password of the admin and guest account


Here you can also change the port the modems web UI operates on.

A dynamic DNS is a service which assigns a URL to your modem (for example, intercel.noip.com). You then set your modem to automatically update the DDNS server whenever its IP changes. Now, instead of having to access your modem with an IP address that changes whenever the modem is rebooted, you can use a Domain name to access the modem.

Supported services on the eSAM include:
https://dyn.com/dns/
https://www.noip.com/

http://duckdns.org


To use a DDNS service, you must first sign up for an account with the service provider. Then, you would enter the details of your account into the eSAM and enable DDNS functionality.

Please contact Intercel for instructions on how to do this for your specific model of modem and for your preferred DDNS provider.

Open the ‘Network>LAN’ screen from the menu on the right. Entered your desired IP as ‘IP1’. If you want the modem to have more than one IP, enter them here as well.

By default, the modem will use 192.168.8.1 as its local IP. The internet-facing IP will be assigned by your telco, your APN and your SIM card.

Connect your computer into the eSAM using an Ethernet cable between the LAN port of the eSAM and the LAN port of your computer.

Either let the computer determine the IP address it should use by DHCP, or enter the following settings:

Local (Computer) IP Address: 168.8.117

Subnet Mask:                                  255.255.255.0
Gateway (eSAM) IP Address:      192.168.8.1

If you have altered any of these settings on your eSAM, you will have to change the subnet to match.

Once connected, open your web browser and enter 192.168.8.1 into the address bar. The Web UI for the eSAM should open.

 

By default, the username and password are:

 

Username:         admin

Password:           admin

 

You should change these once you log in for security reasons.

Cat-M1 and NB-IoT are two new standards competing with LTE Cat-1 Modules. They are intended to bridge the gap between low-cost and low-speed modules using SigFox and LoRaWAN and traditional high-speed and medium-cost modules using 4G LTE.

Cat-M1 is not as fast as Cat M1, but using a reduced spectrum compared to traditional cellular and so allows Telco’s to attach more devices onto their networks. It also allows for a lower cost module to be manufactured, which makes it an attractive solution for metering and IoT-type applications. Cat-M1 also offers improved range compared to Cat 1.

 

NB-IoT uses an even less spectrum and is closer to a LoRa or SigFox solution in terms of speed. NB-IoT is aimed specifically at IoT devices and smart meters, such as smart water meters.

Our new SAMX modems support both Cat-M1 and NB-IoT. You can choose which network to use with an AT command. As of writing this, Cat-M1 is in the process of being widely deployed and NB-IoT is still in the early stages.

  1. The Category or ‘Cat’ value of a modem defines the maximum speed the modem can reach. This is relevant for Ethernet modems, as they are cable of reaching speeds more than 100 Mb/s. For serial modems, Cat 1 is enough as the serial protocol itself is much slower than Ethernet and can’t supply data fast enough to warrant a faster module.

 

LTE Category 1 Up to 10Mbps Download Up to 5 Mbps Upload
LTE Category 4 Up to 150Mbps Download Up to 50 Mbps Upload
LTE Category 6 Up to 300Mbps Download Up to 50 Mbps Upload
LTE Category M1 Up to 300Kbps Download Up to 375Kbps Upload
NB-IoT Up to 250 kbps Download Up to 250Kbps Upload
  Ethernet Modems Serial Modems
eSAM4Q SAM4QX Ultra eSAM4QX Ultra eSAM4WX SAM4Q SAM4T SAM4XQ SAM4XT SAM3T
Discontinued!
4G Frequency Bands
2100 Mhz (Band 1)
1800 Mhz (Band 3)
850 Mhz (Band 5)
2600 Mhz (Band 7)
900 Mhz (Band 8)
700 Mhz (Band 28)
2300 Mhz (Band 40)
3G Frequency Bands
2100 Mhz (Band 1)
850 Mhz (Band 5)
900 Mhz (Band 8)
  • Most important here is Band 28, which is covered by Telstra and Optus and Widely used.
  • Least important is Band 40, which is only offered by Optus in some areas.

4G Cellular Frequency Bands:

  Telstra Optus Vodafone
2100 Mhz (Band 1)
1800 Mhz (Band 3)
850 Mhz (Band 5)
2600 Mhz (Band 7)
900 Mhz (Band 8)
700 Mhz (Band 28)
2300 Mhz (Band 40)


3G Cellular Frequency Bands:

  Telstra Optus Vodafone
2100 Mhz (Band 1)
850 Mhz (Band 5)
900 Mhz (Band 8)

 

It is important to note two things:

  • Band 28 is widely deployed and has a long range. Band 28 support is critical for modems in the Australian market, especially in remote areas.
  • 3G is an older technology and is not being rolled out aggressively in the same way 4G is. 4G modems with 3G fall-back will offer much better coverage than a 3G modem will.

To share the radio frequency between multiple devices and multiple applications, ACMA is responsible for dividing up the radio spectrum into many different frequency bands and assigning these for different roles. As different countries assign different frequency bands for use by Cellular providers, different countries and different networks will use different Frequencies to communicate.

For reliable and fast cellular performance, you must choose a modem that supports the Frequency bands used by your Telco. Intercel’s modems are designed for the Australian market and support almost all frequency bands, but modems purchased from overseas may not cover all required bands.

To get a public IP address you must have the telco enable Public IP service on your account. Then, you can enter the correct apn for public IPs with your Telco and you should be allocated one.

For Telstra, you need to get Telstra Customer Support to enable Extranet on your SIM account by adding the code GPTEXB3 to your account. Then, you change the APN of your modem to telstra.extranet to get a public IP.

Other cellular providers will have their own rules, and may not even offer Public IP service. Australian providers will only offer dynamic public IP’s, not static, so a DDNS service would be needed to access the device reliably.

The eSAM will attempt to determine your APN automatically from the SIM card, but this approach is not always reliable as some SIM’s will not describe the APN or will sometimes describe the wrong APN. For best reliability, you should enter the APN for your SIM card manually.

Each provider will have their own recommended APN, but here are some of the more common ones:

Provider APN Description
Telstra telstra.internet Private NATted IP address for Telstra SIM cards, or SIM’s on the Telstra network.
Telstra telstra.extranet Public IP addresses for Telstra Extranet SIM’s. You must contact Telstra to get this APN enabled on your account.
Optus connect Private NATted IP address
Virgin virginbroadband Private NATted IP address
Vodafone live.vodafone.com Private NATted IP address
TPG internet Private NATted IP address
iiNet internet Private NATted IP address
KORE M2M od1.korem2m.com Private NATted IP address

 

When in doubt, you should contact your cellular provider for assistance

Slide the SIM card cover out of the SAM modem. The cover is located on the bottom of the modem on the opposite side to the RJ-45 and Antenna connector. Slide the SIM card into the SIM card slot with the contacts facing towards the circuit board. Replace the plastic cover.

Press the small button next to the SIM card tray, located below the antenna connector. This will eject the SIM tray. Insert your SIM card into the tray with the contacts pointing outwards, and then replace it into the modem.

Our modems use full-sized standard SIM cards, as are provided by Australian telco’s. Our modem’s do not have any carrier limitations and will work well with any Australian Telco’s and with self-deployed LTE networks.

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