Announcing Particle’s next-generation cellular IoT platform: Particle EtherSIM, free up to 100 devices

We’re eliminating the biggest barriers to building cellular IoT products (along with some other major platform improvements).

Zach Supalla article author avatarZach SupallaMarch 17, 2021
Announcing Particle’s next-generation cellular IoT platform: Particle EtherSIM, free up to 100 devices

In 2013, Particle (Spark at the time) made our debut with the Spark Core, our solution to make it easy to build Wi-Fi connected IoT products. That product got us into the hands of our first few thousand developers, and put us in a position to start to understand the needs of people and companies building IoT products. What challenges did they face, and how could we help solve those challenges?

Two years later, we launched our cellular platform with the Electron. We quickly became some of the leading experts on how cellular connectivity could be applied to bring machines, appliances, equipment, and assets online.

Today, Particle has become the leading Integrated IoT platform, powering connected products at massive scale across a wide range of industries and use cases. We connect everything from heavy industrial equipment to inexpensive scooters and bikes. We support Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurs building businesses out of their garage. Over 250,000 developers have built an IoT prototype with Particle; hundreds of those prototypes have turned into products in market, and thousands more are on their way.

Some of our customers build Wi-Fi connected products; others build cellular connected products. Both are good technologies, and each has its sweet spot within IoT. Many smart home products use Wi-Fi networks; most industrial products use our cellular platform. 

Over time, our cellular platform has become increasingly popular. The biggest reason for this is that cellular connectivity “just works”. Wi-Fi devices have to be connected to the network by the user, which creates a lot of customer onboarding friction and often low connectivity rates (a lot of Wi-Fi devices never come online). In most environments, cellular connectivity is ever-present; give it power and your machine, appliance, or device is immediately online.

The biggest barriers to cellular connectivity for IoT these days are two:

  • It’s more expensive
  • Global cellular coverage is fragmented and complex to navigate

When barriers remain, our work is not done. Today we’re excited to announce our next-generation cellular IoT platform, powered by EtherSIM.

Particle EtherSIM — The IoT SIM without a data plan

Say hello to global cellular connectivity with no monthly data plans or device fees. Particle EtherSIM is a brand new connectivity solution for Particle devices that solves IoT deployment challenges by bundling advanced global connectivity with automatic cloud connectivity management and hardened OTA software updates.

EtherSIM is powered by over 350 leading cellular carriers around the world and automatically connects to the best network across 2G, 3G, and LTE technologies. EtherSIM’s industry-leading capabilities deliver unparalleled performance and work with Particle’s platform to solve all the hidden challenges of deploying cellular solutions. Some of the benefits that come with being built on the Particle IoT platform include: 

  • Works with EtherLink — EtherSIM works natively with EtherLink, our “it just works” cloud connectivity and communications protocol, to deliver secure and reliable device-to-cloud messaging out-of-the-box.
  • Integrated security and support — All IoT solutions require regular updates to ensure security and performance. EtherSIM is backed by long-term support guarantees and receives automatic updates as a part of Device OS.
  • Pre-certified solutions — All of Particle’s cellular solutions include regulatory and carrier certifications to eliminate the cost, time, and risk of bringing new cellular-based solutions to market.

EtherSIM compatible hardware is available for immediate purchase in the Particle retail store. If you have existing Particle devices with a legacy Particle SIM, you can upgrade to EtherSIM by purchasing an insertable 4FF EtherSIM. 4FF EtherSIMs will be sold in the Particle Store in the near future here. If you’re interested to learn more about the EtherSIM, you can check out our extended deep dive or speak with a member of our sales team here.

With the launch of EtherSIM, Particle’s cellular data plans are now baked into the subscription fees you pay for use of our platform. But while those fees might work for customers delivering an IoT product at scale who have worked out their business model, they can be cumbersome in the early stages of development when you don’t yet have your own customers and revenue.

So we fixed that too.

The Particle cellular IoT platform is now free up to 100 devices

Free IoT development? You heard that right. After helping hundreds of companies deliver connected solutions to the market, we’ve learned that many of the biggest barriers are overcome in the early stages of a project – prototypes, PoCs, and pilots. We want to do everything we can to get out of our customers’ way. That is why we are excited to announce an entirely reimagined pricing model designed to help our customers get to scale on their own terms. Some of the biggest improvements we’ve made to our pricing model are:

  • Free plan – We’re rolling out an entirely new pricing plan that provides customers full-featured access to the Particle platform with support up to 100 devices, free of charge. Even better? Cellular data is included, so you can wave goodbye to per-device data plans and overages.
  • Goodbye data plans; hello Data Operations. Under our new pricing model, we charge only for user-controlled Data Operations, a measure of data transmission and processing that you control and use when you send, receive, or store data through the Particle platform. With Data Operations, “background” platform messages like handshakes, keep-alive, pings, and even OTA updates aren’t metered and don’t count against your Data Operations limit.
  • Growth and Enterprise plan – Lastly, we’re unveiling two new paid service plans for scaling customers. Customers with growing but uncertain businesses can use our Growth plan to scale on their own terms; customers with larger and more stable businesses can lock in an Enterprise contract that includes premium services and support. Both plans enjoy all the benefits of our new pricing model like Data Operations, free Over the Air (OTA) software updates, and cellular data included.

Existing customers who fall into our free plan will no longer be billed for monthly service, effective immediately. Existing customers under our growth plan will be migrated to our new pricing structure this summer. For more information on our new pricing structure and how we will be migrating customers, check out our extended deep dive on pricing here

Introducing new Tracking System features: Extensible configurations and Location Fusion

Since we launched the Tracking System last year at Spectra, hundreds of customers have deployed flexible and customizable asset tracking solutions that easily integrate with sensors and equipment thanks to powerful integrated features like asset tracking+. We want to continue expanding upon our Tracking System’s flexibility and customizability, which is why we are excited to roll out new features that allow customers to gain even more control over their assets: 

  • Extensible configurations now generally available — Our extensible configuration center now offers customers the ability to add a user interface to extend configuration and alerting capabilities to their own sensors and equipment. This feature is ideal for users who need to make unique alerting and data reporting rules at the device or fleet level. For instance, a supply chain management team could create a custom alert if a refrigerated truck’s temperature rises above a specific value, enabling them to counteract issues before they occur. Documentation and tutorials for using extensible configuration can be found here.
  • Introducing Location Fusion — Location Fusion is a new software feature that utilizes an intelligent blend of GPS, cellular triangulation, and Wi-Fi-based positioning to provide the customer with the most accurate location data, irrespective of where their assets move. This is most helpful when a customer doesn’t have a GNSS lock on their assets, such as indoor settings or use cases where an asset frequently moves between indoor and outdoor environments. Overall, Location Fusion expands the use cases that Particle’s Tracking system can support and is available as a free upgrade to all Tracker devices.