4G APN - Autonet
Table of Contents
Users familiar with our 2G and 3G range of devices will be familiar with our Auto-APN feature (2G/3G Devices). This feature allows plug and play operation of these devices, as the right APN needed for a certain SIM is stored in a list in firmware, when this SIM is detected (based upon the IMSI) - this APN is set and the device can connect. An APN (Access Point Name) is a set of information, which is presented to the carrier so that it knows what kind of network connection to create.
The IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) is a unique number which contains two key pieces of information: the MCC (Mobile Country Code) and MNC (Mobile Network Code). With this information we know which network a SIM is operating on (some roaming SIMs use the same IMSI in multiple countries and can mess with this).
Our Auto-APN feature is not available on our 4G range. The APN is automatically assigned by the network. Supporting multi-APN on 4G devices exponentially increases the registration time as the device will need to perform a full network scan using each APN combination in order to settle on the correct one.
How does Autonet work?
- On startup (i.e. after a reset, or on power on) if the Admin Parameters are not blank, these settings will be used
- If they are blank - Autonet begins
- The device checks the MCC and MNC against the Autonet table stored in device firmware
- If there is a matching entry, these network settings are applied
- If there is no entry, no settings will be applied.
On 2G and 3G, we use this information to simply apply the APN necessary to allow the device to connect, but on 4G LTE-M and NB-IoT, we apply a broader set of network parameters. What is set is:
- APN - Access Point Name
- RAT - Radio Access Technology - i.e. whether to use Cat-M1 or NB-IoT
- Band masks - which 4G bands to use
- Modem hardware profiles
Set your APN and network settings!
The aim of Autonet is to allow easy plug and play device provisioning. This firmware feature helps devices get online with minimal fuss. No need to plug in cables, send texts or other various methods. However it is recommended that once online - you specifically set the APN and network settings via OEM Server.
These settings can be applied over the air. Once tested and confirmed to be working on a handful of units, these settings can be applied in bulk prior to provisioning devices. The device will then connect in initially thanks to Autonet - and then pick up the relevant network settings automatically - keeping provisioning uncomplicated.
Notes on Autonet and Network Settings
The APN must be correct, in order for the device to work. If it is set incorrectly - it can't be changed over the air and must be set via other methods (4G APN - How do I set the APN to connect to the network?). Autonet may help you get your device online initially, but we (and most mobile networks globally) recommend that it is set explicitly. So when provisioning, you can leave this field blank in parameters, and Autonet will handle getting the device on air - then it is best to set it once online.
RAT and Band Masks
What is particularly important (particularly on NB-IoT networks) is the RAT and Band masks. If no band masks are set, the device can take a very long time to scan through all possible bands, hunting for the network. Often the upload can even time out before the network is found - meaning the device won't connect. Autonet will allow for SIMs on networks which we know about, and are in the list, to connect automatically. If your device does not connect - we must use other methods. See: 4G APN - How do I set the APN to connect to the network? and Wired Provisioning Tool
Connectivity Settings Fallback
Our latest device firmwares (across all 4G products) feature Connectivity Settings Fallback. This feature means the device keeps track of a 'known good' Admin Parameter configuration. It is for this reason that it is worth explicitly setting the Admin Parameters on the device. If the device is using Autonet, and a firmware update changes the Autonet table - devices may go offline if the APN has not been explicitly set beforehand.