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Programmable Wireless: Twilio Narrowband Alfa Developer Kit

If you received the Alfa Developer Kit that was distributed to SIGNAL attendees, this Quickstart guide is for you.

This will guide you through registering your Narrowband SIM in the Programmable Wireless Console, setting up your Alfa Developer Kit, then running a "Hello, World!" application on your Developer Board.

Alfa Developer Kit Box

You should have the following components in your kit:

  • Programmable Wireless Narrowband IoT SIM (full size, mini, micro, and nano)
  • Alfa Development board
  • LTE antenna
  • GPS antenna
  • Set of Grove sensors - Pushbutton, Ultrasonic, Temperature/Humidity
  • Lithium battery
  • Micro-USB cable
  • Micro-USB cable
  • Additional cabling

Additional details about the development board are available here.

Also try the MQTT quickstart for this board or the Machine to Machine commands Quickstart.

I'm got everything ready - let's do this!

STEP 1: Register your narrowband SIM

Follow these steps to create a Narrowband Rate Plan and Activate your SIM on the network.

Enter registration code

  1. Open the Programmable Wireless Console.
  2. From the Programmable Wireless menu, click SIMs and click the red + button to open the Register a Starter SIM page.
  3. Find the SIM registration number on the reverse side of the Narrowband IoT SIM chip card.
  4. Enter this number in the Registration Code field.
  5. Click Register SIM Card.


Choose a Unique Name

  1. In the Unique Name field, give your SIM a friendly unique name. This is used to identify this SIM in the SIMs section of the Console.
  2. Click Continue.


Create a Rate Plan

  1. Click the red + button to create a Narrowband Rate Plan.
  2. In the dialog that appears, give the Rate Plan a unique name. This will be used in the Console.
  3. Click Save to continue.


You can learn more about Rate Plans here.

Activate your SIM

  • Click the Activate button to activate your SIM on the network.


View SIM configuration details

  1. Once your new SIM has been activated, the View SIM Detail button should appear.
  2. Click it to open the Configure tab for your newly activated SIM.


Alternately, you can also view the SIM configuration details from the menu:

  1. From the Programmable Wireless menu, click SIMS.
  2. Select the newly created SIM, in this case, "My First NarrowBand SIM".
  3. Click the Configure tab to view the properties of the newly activated SIM.


You will find all your registered SIMs in the Sims section of the Console. Here you can manage the SIM lifecyle, change the SIM's Rate Plan, see Usage etc.

I've got my SIM registered! What's next?

STEP 2: Set up the hardware

Insert SIM into the development board

  • Insert the smallest form factor of the Narrowband SIM in the bottom of the two slots available on the Developer board


Connect the LTE antenna

The Alfa Developer Kit comes with two antennas: LTE and GPS. In this case, we will use the LTE antenna.

  • Carefully connect the black rectangular LTE antenna to the pin labeled LTE on the back of the Developer Board.


Plug in the USB cable

  1. Insert the micro USB cable into the Developer Board.
  2. Plug the other end of the USB cable into a USB port on your computer to install the firmware.


Plug in the lithium battery

  • Insert the JST connector of the lithium battery into the battery port to the right of the micro USB port.

The lithium battery is recommended to be plugged in at all times, especially if your USB power source does not provide sufficient power for the board at peak levels.

I'm ready to connect!

Currently, only the T-Mobile Narrowband network in the United States is supported.

Connecting to the network for the first time can take a minute or two.

  • The Network LED to the left of the Reset button will be initially orange. When connected, it will turn blue. (See graphic above for LED location on the Development Board.)

If the LED doesn't turn blue, try another location. You may not have cell coverage in your current location. If you still aren't having any success, let us know via

Please reboot your device and try again if your device doesn't attach to the network in approxamtely two minutes.

I'm connected! I want to build an app now!

STEP 4: Build the Quickstart App

There's lots of examples for you to get started with your Narrowband Alfa Developer Kit!

Download and install the Breakout SDK

  1. Visit Breakout Arduino Libary on Github to download the SDK.
  2. Visit Arduino IDE environment setup for Breakout if you need help installing Breakout and flashing firmware.

Flash the board with sample applications

  1. Open the Arduino IDE
  2. Go to File > Examples > Breakout

Click on any example to get started!

In the examples folder you will find:

Need help flashing your board with examples? Visit the Flash the Developer Board section of the Breakdown markdown.

What should I do next?!

Where to next?

Now that you have your Narrowband Developer Board activated, we can't wait to see what you do next. Here's some inspiration to help get the creativity flowing:

  1. Visit the examples in the Breakdown repository.
  2. See how to send a Command to the SIM through the Commands API.
  3. Learn more about Narrowband and Twilio Programmable Wireless.
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