Low cost 3G modules for using in Australia | UMTS/HSDPA modems


Australia has completely shutdown 2G networks:
Since the advent of the shutdown of 2G networks, All the Australian network providers have completely migrated to 4G networks, with 3G fallback wherever 4G is not available. USA was the first to announce the shutdown of 2G networks but they are still using 2G networks and even Europe is going to keep the 2G network alive for few more years. But, Australia has shutdown all 2G networks. 


3G is widely available ,4G is still growing and doesn’t cover all rural areas :
So, most of Australia is now covered with 3G networks and 4G is still growing. 


Most of Austrlian networks use European frequency bands except Telstra: 
I got a requirement to design a GPS tracking device for Australia, that time i came to know that not all Australian network providers use standard European frequency bands. 
Here are the list of frequency bands used in Australia by its major network service providers,

Telstra 850MHz(B5)

2100MHz(B1)

Optus 900MHz(B8)

2100MHz(B1)

Vodafone 900MHz(B8)

2100MHz(B1)

Virgin Mobiles 900MHz(B8)

2100MHz(B1)

This is from the spec sheet of SIMCOM’s SIM5320 & Quectel’s UC15 modules showing variants for different network regions and the frequency bands supported by them.

SIM5320A:Dual-Band UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900MHz 

SIM5320E:Dual-Band UMTS/HSDPA 900/2100MHz 

SIM5320J:Dual-Band UMTS/HSDPA 850(800)/2100MHz 

UC15-A:Dual-Band UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900MHz 

UC15-E:Dual-Band UMTS/HSDPA 900/2100MHz 

UC15-T:Dual-Band UMTS/HSDPA 850(800)/2100MHz 

As you can see, the frequency band used by all other operators except Telstra use standard European frequency bands of 900MHz and 2100MHz.

Only Telstra uses 850MHz and 2100MHz, which was the problem, because the area of the application where my design was supposed to be used was only having Telstra network and the SIM5320E module will not work here.


Why SIM5320E will not work : 
Even though the SIM5320E module supports one of the Telstra frequencies i.e, 2100MHz it will not work properly. Its necessary that the module supports both the frequency bands because some areas might have one frequency (850MHz) and other might have another frequency (2100MHz).


Which 3G module to choose for Australia :
So, Choosing the SIM5320E/UC15-E would make it work for Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobiles  networks but not on Telstra network.
And choosing the SIM5320J/UC15-T would make it work for Telstra but it will work for other networks in some areas and not in others. 

Since it was decided that we will use Telstra only, we chose the SIM5320J module because it supported 850MHz and 2100MHz bands. 
The other module which supports Telstra network will be Quectel UC15-T. 


Check for certifications :
One more thing to keep in mind is the certifications, Check for the network carrier certifications for modules and other country specific certifications to avoid future problems.

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