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SparkFun's LTE Stick Packs a u-blox LARA-R6 for Voice and IoT Data Across North America

"With the right parts and code," SparkFun's Chris McCarty promises, "you can make your own breadboard telephone!"

SparkFun has announced a new board which aims to provide connectivity — for both voice and data traffic — in areas where Wi-Fi networks simply don't reach, anywhere across North America: the SparkFun LTE Stick.

"[This] is a game-changer when it comes to cellular IoT [Internet of Things]," SparkFun's Chris McCarty claims of the company's new board design. "Meet the SparkFun LTE Stick — LARA-R6! This little board is perfect for avoiding Wi-Fi dead zones, is capable of connecting you anywhere (in the North American region) and at anytime, opening up a world of possibilities."

SparkFun's latest board design aims to deliver reliable cellular connectivity across North America: the LTE Stick. (📹: SparkFun)

Based on the u-blox LARA-R6 LTE Cat. 1 cellular module, the SparkFun LTE Stick is compatible with LTE FDD bands 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 14, 66, and 71 — meaning out-of-the-box support for connectivity on AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and FirstNet networks across North America. Selecting a provider should be easy, too: just pop a nano-SIM card in the board's slot and you're ready to connect.

The stick includes a USB Type-C connector at one end and a pair of antenna connectors at the other, plus 0.1" plated through-hole (PTH) pin headers for UART serial and I2S signals — the latter supporting voice calls through the cellular modem, as well as data messaging. "Since the LARA-R6401 supports data and voice," McCarty points out, "you can use the LTE Stick with the right parts (such as an audio codec, microphone, speaker, & microcontroller) and code; you can make your own breadboard telephone!"

Elsewhere on the board are four of the LARA-R6 module's general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins and an I2C header, exposed alongside a second UART bus on a "test point cluster" and at a 1.8V logic level, and physical power-on and reset buttons. All the usual features of the LARA-R6 are supported, SparkFun has confirmed, including over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates and jamming detection.

The SparkFun LTE Stick is now available on the company's store at $149.95 before volume discounts; more information is available in the part's hookup guide.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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