How to connect using Hologram Sim in New Zealand


#1

Hi, I have a kit I purchased from Silabs. It included a Hologram SIM. I have registered the SIM on the Hologram web site and have added data. The Hologram web site informs me that the SIM is active. I on the other hand am situated in New Zealand. We have 3 main networks here, Vodafone, Spark and 2Degrees. I have loaded the demo firmware supplied by Silabs and have set the APN to hologram. The modem does not connect. What am I doing wrong?


#2

Which Technology does the Silabs kit use? (Cat-M1, also called LTE-M, NB-IOT, LTE, 3G, 2G?). Looking at https://hologram.io/pricing/coverage/ (enter New Zealand), Hologram has agreements with Vodafone and 2Degrees.

Per: https://www.gsma.com/iot/deployment-map/#deployments (click on New Zealand) it looks like Vodafone has LTE-M1 coverage in New Zealand.

Things to check:

  • What technology (2G, 3G, LTE, etc) is your modem and is there a carrier in New Zealand that Hologram has an agreement with that support that technology?
  • Does your modem support the same frequency bands as the technology in your area? For example, from the gsma link it looks like the Vodafone Cat-M1 is on bands 3, and 28. If your modem only supports bands 2, 4, 5, 12 (Many meant for the USA market) it will not work.
  • Is your modem NB-IOT? Hologram does not support NB-IOT anywhere at this time.
  • Is your modem 2G only? I believe 2G has been disabled throughout New Zealand (as it is obsolete).

Also, for further help, please provide the exact model number of the kit you are using and run the following AT commands:

AT+CPIN?
AT+CREG?
AT+COPS=? <<this may take 1-3 minutes to run, if it errors wait 5 minutes and try again.


#3

Thanks for the response. The Silabs kit embeds the Digi Xbee module which includes a uBlox SARA-R410M-02B-00 which is a world band modem. This modem in turn supports LTE Cat M1 / NB1. Vodafone in NZ still offers GSM, but that is for legacy devices. Spark never supported GSM and 2Degrees ended support for GSM in 2018. I hope to connect to Vodafone using Cat-M1. The issue at hand is setting the APN. The modem will never connect to the Hologram network, it will connect (according to my limited understanding) to Vodafone. 2Degrees does not support LTE-M1 or NB-IOT yet.
I will run those AT commands at give feedback a little later.


#4

Ok yea I know that module well, that’s what I use and it supports the Vodafone bands.

Im confused what you mean by:

First with Cat-M1 you don’t need to set the APN, the network will do that for you (although it doesn’t hurt). Also you wont see a Hologram tower or anything like that, you will connect to Vodafone in NZ, Hologram just has agreements for their simcards to work on Vodafone’s network. So as far as the modem sees it connects to “real” or “physical” networks like Vodafone, AT&T, Telstra / etc.

You can also try the following AT commands with that module:
AT+URAT=7 << sets the module to only look for CAT-M1 (disables NB-IOT). This helps searching for networks
AT+UMNOPROF? <<checks the profile settings 0 = default, basically search for everything, 19 = only vodafone (although I would verify it picks the correct bands, it may be Vodafone UK)
AT+UBANDMASK? << can be used to tell which frequencies the device will search
AT+CEREG? <<checks for EPS registration status
AT+CGDCONT? << prints the PDP context definitions (should show “hologram” and an IP address if all is well)

Note Cat-M1 is not officially supported in NZ by hologram (see similar post in Australia: Hologram in Australia) but it may work fine. Cat-M1 is much closer than normal LTE than NB-IOT so in many cases “it just works”