Chosing the right modem PLS8 vs BM818

Sorry for reviving yet another modem thread, but since I read about the voLTE issue, I am at a loss, and this thread seems to be the best for my needs.

I thought I knew what modem would be best for use in Europe: the Broadmobi 818, because it supports a lot more frequencies than the Gemalto.

Now it turns out the lack of voLTE support in the Broadmobi 818 makes it a far less attractive option, to say the least: it (soon) might not work, or not even be admitted on the networks of the main network providers.

Of course I’m hoping I am wrong, and panicking (slightly) for nothing. But I can’t figure it out on my own, nor is my mind put to rest by other peoples speculations. I don’t mind being laughed at because I ordered a ‘weird’ phone and prepared to wait this long for it. I would mind being laughed at when it turns out, I can’t use it to make phone calls.

So, I would really appreciate to hear from Purism on this.

In the light of the voLTE issue, what modem should we pick?!
Will Purism send us a replacement modem - free of charge - if the L5 is or gets banned?

And, no, AweSIM is not a viable alternative. Even if it was available in Europe, I don’t want to swap my limited, 15 euro data plan for a 99 dollar one.

(Maybe it is not too late to switch to this Broadmobi modem: )


It may be too long. It is longer than the BM818.

It may be too thick. It is thicker than the BM818.

Maybe it fits. Maybe it doesn’t.

Indeed. All you are getting is speculation.

This itself may be speculation.

The suggestion to use the other broadmobi was sort of a joke.
The broadmobi not having voLTE is no speculation - read the specs…

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Based on the comments by @dos, I’m guessing that Purism is waiting on BroadMobi to add VoLTE support, which he indicates is a matter to configuration and international testing. If that is the case, then a firmware update can fix it, but of course only BroadMobi can provide that.

I would wait until Purism is ready to ship Evergreen and see what Purism says before making any decisions.

Another issue is whether you have a cellular provider that has a whitelist of allowed phones on its network. You might want to check the policies of your provider. In the US, this is a big problem. It isn’t where I live in South America.


I’m currently planning on going with the Gemalto PLS8-US and Tracfone service unless the situation changes. I’ll watch what amosbatto and kieran report too in the meantime. You guys are the best and most affordable tech support! Thank you

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Sure, if Purism can wait it out, I will too. But this sort of strikes me as an unexpected turn of events at a very inopportune time. And I am slightly worried Purism did not see it coming.
So, I was just looking for some peace of mind, really.

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As @amosbatto says, there is much more to the story than that.

All cellular modems available in the entire world are blackboxes. As customers, we are dependent on the modem manufacturer to deliver VoLTE support. We are also dependent on the carrier to offer VoLTE support and to release the needed information to use it.

Best case: It really is “preliminary” in the BM818 (i.e. the code is present) and just a small matter of “configuration and testing”. (Yeah, I’ve heard that one before …)

So presumably some countries and carriers will be officially supported by Broadmobi for VoLTE. Some it might work but not be officially supported. Some it might never work.

I would guess that getting the US carriers supported would be a priority for Broadmobi. However I don’t think you have said what country and carrier you are interested in.

For some countries and carriers VoLTE support might be buggy, but be improved over time.

I understand that you want peace of mind but it is going to be messier than that.

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i’m going to play it safe and get BOTH or more modems if i can and test … besides m2 is easy enough to swap if you’re not constantly on the move …

So in all cases the US is surveying everyone if you are in the US. What happens if you are outside the US? E.i. if you have a BM does that mean you are protected against US/EU spying if you are not in their area? What I didn’t know was that the country of production implies that that country is surveying you (wherever you are?).

The comment wasn’t intended to be taken 100% seriously. Most people would look at supported bands and supported functionality and performance before worrying about potential for surveillance.

More and more countries are passing laws that mean that country of production implies the potential for that country to surveil you no matter where you are.

More and more countries are passing laws that mean that country of location implies the potential for that country to surveil you no matter where you came from.

Regardless, a mobile phone is horrible technology if you totally want to drop off the grid.

what Snowden was talking about in his book about what NSA is doing is a lil’ more than surveillance capitalism …

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Another question that hasn’t been answered yet:
will the Gemalto really cost us extra, and, if so, how much?

Yes. (Is someone remember where is the official announcement?)

We don’t know.

No news yet…

TBD = to be determined
From Librem 5 Shop Page:

Baseband : Option 1: Broadmobi BM818 (default); Option 2: Gemalto PLS8 (additional surcharge TBD); w/ single nanosim tray on replaceable M.2 card

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Thanks for all the replies, people. But I was hoping for answers from Purism.
I am having a hard time deciding what modem to go for, because I do not have all the needed information.
Now would be a great moment for Purism to tell us more…

As I recall last chance to order production of some particular module under Gemalto name was on 14.06.2019. Anyway, I noticed (more than several months ago) that this post uses official names for both variants of Thales’s Cinterion® PLS8 wireless M2M module:

P.S. Just to be correct, with this post of mine I’m not helping much myself either, but agreement over official module(s) name would sound as at least some kind of progress, IMHO.

A bit of tech info that I came across: This document seems to show some AT commands for BM818

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Is that Gemalto modem really going to be an option for Evergreen? The phone is shipping soon, and I don’t see any indication that PLS8 is a real option for it - except in obsolete(?) Purism web pages.

So, what’s the plan? Why are people still talking about PLS8?

EDIT: ok, the modem is part of Librem 5 USA with shipping at the end of the year. So, at least is not just on paper…

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One thing to consider is, it seems PLS8 verifiably has VolTE voice ability, which may become important in the future (especially in the US it seems, possibly in other countries as well - partly connected to shutting down 2G/3G networks). Also see the FAQ.

This goes to all of northern part of Europe: Finland, Norway, Sweden, Island, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and more (including Russia). Your preferred modem is either one of the “European” options (BM818-E1 / PLS8-E) unless you have some specific needs due to travel.

Didn’t check all others but expect a good coverage elsewhere in Europe too. This recommendation is based on the presense B20, which is used by most operators in these countries. Only in Sweden only one operator (3 - according to using also B38, which is only in BM818.