I am looking at creating a fleet of low power, Arduino driven devices.

I would need some kind of GPS on them all (or could triangulate through phone network?) plus a connection to the internet - just for HTTP POST requests. GPRS or GSM would do but 3G would be better.

What are the best (price is a major factor because I'm trying to do a fleet) GSM, GPRS or 3G modules that I can use with Arduinos? As I said, I need their location so one with GPS built in would be great.

EDIT: The amount of devices in the fleet will change, so the entire network needs to be dynamic which is why having a GPRS/GSM module on each one would work so well.

  • I've seen people start with a cheap smartphone.
    – Gerben
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 13:06
  • @Gerben any recommendations?
    – developius
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 13:29
  • From what I remember it was an FirefoxOS phone. I think Alcatel One Touch Fire or something. I'm unable to find the related article.
    – Gerben
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 15:38
  • So you need position awereness? Does this count for the complete fleet, or every single arduino in the fleet? What accuracy are you looking for? 100m, 10m, 1m, 10cm? What do you want to achieve with the POST requests? They shouldn't be used for the communications between arduino (I believe). GSM-modules aren't that "low-power" when connecting to the network (around 2A peaks are possible) though yea, they won't draw 2A all the time.
    – aaa
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 10:21
  • @FuaZe Each arduino. <= 1m would be great. The POST requests are just for updating a web server.
    – developius
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 12:02

3 Answers 3


Not many possibilities (for the phone part, I suggest a GPRS/3G shield), but not wanting to discourage you, if you are thinking about "a fleet", forget about:

  • low power (the phone radio needs power, some say you need > 1A for both Arduino plus the shield, depending on your distance to the antenna). you must add the GPS part. Even if you communicate just a fraction of the time, you need instant power for feeding the radio.
  • low price (gprs shields are not cheap, starting at some 25€, and gps shields about 20€). and don't forget that you need a SIM card with a data plan for every unit....

    Depending on what are you trying to achieve, I'd try with less expensive (RF communications, for example) to avoid carrier costs and hardware costs, at the price of a more complex development.
    If you want to publish to a web service, you can always make your minions transmit to a centralized Raspberry PI, for example, that would take the task of bridging with the Internets, or your mastermind...:-D

  • 7
    • Can you give me a link to one for 25€? I started with thinking about a RF network with a Pi as the gateway but it'd need meshing and RF isn't cheap either.
      – developius
      Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 12:01
    • look for "gprs shield arduino" at ebay or aliexpress. They can be used with the RPis without problems, as they work with the MCU or RPi via serial port using AT Commands.
      – Roberto
      Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 12:43
    • would this be ok? ebay.co.uk/itm/…
      – developius
      Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 14:45
    • According to the product description, yes. You just need to power it with an appropriate power source (I suggest a 2A one) and link it with your RPi via a serial connection. Look for "SIM900 AT Command reference"
      – Roberto
      Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 8:44
    • 2A?! It has a big orange capacitor on for that (or so it says)?
      – developius
      Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 8:58

    If you are finding Cheapest and working module you can you SIM800L less then 4$.



    You can find many other cheap alternative but they does not work properly.

    Sim800 have good support and you can find many examples to use this with arduino.

    Many other model also available in market as per your requirements.

    • BUT you need to supply it with at least 2Amps. Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 8:24

    a few new ones have hit the scene recently. There's one by the folks that made the particle board (the electron supports 2G and 3G). There is also a kickstarter by sixfab that made one for the pi-zero footprint (but it's a standard raspberry pi GPIO and also has USB connection support or you can bread-board it to an arduino). They make a more expensive plate on standard RPi footprint that supports laptop-style WWAN modules (bought separately) so it can do 3G or 4G/LTE. One of the better one's I've seen recently is actually part of the AT&T offerings (I believe avtel is the one that put the packages together for them). If you google AT&T IoT starter kit, they have four different offerings, with the lowest being $59. (it's apparently used as just a modem and can be connected via gpio style pins or via usb) It comes with a sim with 300Mb and 300 SMS messages good for up to 6 months from date of activation. There are a few higher end chips coming out with LTE and 4G support also from Simcom (the makers of the Sim900 based devices core chip). Boards I have seen built on their LTE based devices run in the $80-120 range so, unfortunately they don't qualify as cheap. As of yet, I haven't seen anything with 3G or higher under the $40 mark though. Most of them start above $50 and go up. Maybe by the time 2G is completely phased out, LoRa will be well saturated?

    • Welcome to Arduino Stack Exchange. Be sure to take the tour at arduino.stackexchange.com
      – SDsolar
      Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 5:35
    • 1
      May I suggest reformatting this a bit? Use the edit button and break up the concepts into separate paragraphs. It is hard to read so much all at once. TNX.
      – SDsolar
      Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 5:36

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