I understand his concern but I am not sure if all of his assumptions are accurate.
First, his point is that IoT devices are not power optimized. I am not sure if this is the case as IoT is more than just vending machines but also battery powered toys and all kind of things. I would rather say that IoT is power optimized but for a different use case. It is supposed to be very power efficient while idling around and waiting for either some user or sensor input and then send a short burst of data (or getting triggered by a control instance). He is probably write that in general IoT modems are not optimized for a low power usage while transferring huge amounts of data (which is the consumer / our use case). Somehow proving this it the part Gemalto writes about their card in the public datasheet:
IoT Optimized Power Management
An advanced power management system delivers fast shut down and
wake up capabilities helping while an intelligent single-sided design
improves heat dissipation and extends battery power making it ideal for
remote applications with wide temperature ranges.
His second assumption is that Gemalto and Broadmobi are actually the modem manufacturers. I am not sure if this is the case. They for sure design and manufacture the card but not necessarily the IC within the card (which is the real modem). The whole mobile modem market is owned by a couple of large companies (the ones he names in his post) and mostly their modems are used internally in such cards. A quick search for the Broadmobi card brought up the FCC page for their card (here) and the pictures of the card without the metal cap looks like if they use a Qualcomm modem (MDM9607). This is still an IoT optimized modem but from Qualcomm and not some smaller company (so maybe its optimized for power similar to the consumer modem versions). Similar Gemalto has a press release stating:
Based on the latest long life LTE chipset from Qualcomm Technologies, the PLS8 delivers industry-leading LTE multiband support for seamless connectivity to the fastest networks worldwide.
Especially with the second point I am not sure if his conclusions about the reception and power hold. For example his point on interoperability. He is right that the big modem manufactures test a lot, but since I assume that at least the Broadmobi card uses a Qualcomm modem I believe this is the case for this modem.
An other point he raises is the SNR and that he does not believe that its a problem of the antenna placement. He is right that the plastic back does not interfere strongly with any antenna in the case. But in Todds disassembly video he says that the antennas are currently taped to the metal frame and it looks like they are in between the frame and the battery. And this is certainly a non ideal placement and surely can degrade the SNR. So maybe Todd is right and the reception issues can be fixed in placing the antennas directly below the plastic back. I am also not sure if I agree with him that IoT devices always have a good radio channel (and so a high SNR) and do not need to focus on low SNR situations. A lot of the applications for IoT are also very remote where the maximum distance to the base station plays a big role (thats why they often do not use LTE but systems like LoRa). But IoT is really just a buzz word and not well defined, so its hard to argue with facts here.
I also agree with Torrone, Pursim did not work on the mobile communication part except picking the modem cards, extending the modem manager software for gnome (but for the actuall interface to the card and not the mobile part, thats all handled in the m.2 card/modem IC) and placing/picking/designing the antennas. I do not think they have any influence on the points mentioned by the redditer accept choosing different cards. I also think he overestimates Purisms influence on the firmware. If I understood correctly the firmware is stored in the m.2 card and not somewhere accessible.
And thats the main issue, I am not sure if Purism has actually a chance to select different cards meaning non IoT cards. Most consumer modems are not sold as m.2 cards but only as chips (and often combined with the main CPU). If I remember the thread about alternative m.2 cards correctly, nearly all options mentioned there where cards very similar to the PLS8 or BM818. So if Purism (and us) want exchangeable cards for the mobile connection with the binary blob completely separated form the main CPU, there might not be an other option than what we have now. And that means we have to live (or stay with Android and the likes) with potential drawbacks like higher power consumption / bad reception. But maybe the drawbacks are not as bad as he believes.
But hey, maybe someone finds a m.2 LTE customer/smartphone grade card. In this case we just swap all our cards and the problems are solved, thats the advantage of the modular approach
As a footnote, I am also a electrical engineer and work in the mobile communication domain in research. I do hardware (RF) and system design (signal processing…). So my background seems to be very similar to the redditer.
I would answer on reddit, but I do not have an account…
edit: added a Gemalto statement about using Qualcomm chips