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S4GRU
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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, November 11, 2013 - 11:55 PM MST

 

S4GRU Staff and Members have been anxiously waiting for over a year for smartphones that would support all three of Sprint’s LTE bands. Since April 2012, Sprint LTE devices have been limited to only one band. Band 25 (1900MHz in the PCS Band). Subsequently, Sprint closed down the Nextel network and picked up another LTE band (Band 26). Also, Sprint purchased Clearwire and picked up another LTE band that they had started to use (Band 41). So Sprint now has use of three LTE bands which will allow it to provide more capacity, better maximum LTE speeds and coverage. With now three LTE bands, Sprint needs Triband LTE phones.

 

S4GRU and our members really became excited in Mid 2013 when we learned through sources that the first Triband LTE smartphones would be out in late September. Shortly after that, we learned that the upcoming LG G2 would be able to support all three Sprint LTE bands via FCC reports.

 

Rejoicing and happy tears filled all of us wireless nerds in anticipation of the first Sprint Triband LTE devices. Then we learned through a source that Sprint Triband LTE devices would not support SVLTE (Simultaneous Voice and LTE). To some this was a setback, but the hard core wireless enthusiast was not distracted. We all wanted Triband LTE at any cost. Besides, nerds don’t spend much time on the phone talking with people.

 

We waited and waited, but nothing released. A few more Triband LTE devices came through the FCC, including the Nexus 5, Samsung Mega 6.3 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Then we found out that the Sprint versions of these device would not launch at the same time as their competitor counterparts. Many of our members were screaming about the delays. And we knew there had to be good reason. We just didn’t know what.

 

The dam finally broke with Google’s release of the Nexus 5 on Halloween. And Sprint finally broke down and released the LG G2 about a week later. S4GRU and dozens of our core members quickly got their hands on their new Triband Nexus 5’s and G2’s and all was happy. For a few minutes. Until they tried to use Sprint’s LTE network where they used to on previous LTE devices.

 

Some of our members reported that both the G2 and N5 had extremely strong LTE signals in Band 25. The best they have ever encountered. However, there was a very vocal group who were reporting that they could not stay connected to LTE for more than a few seconds. Something was very wrong.

 

We tried to troubleshoot and figure out the problem with our members. But there were no clear common denominators among the problems that we could ascertain. We could not figure it out. And then we received heads up from internal memos within Sprint as to the problem. Sprint Triband LTE devices use Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) on the network.

 

Sprint Triband LTE phones dropped SVLTE for eCSFB/CSFB

 

Up until these new Triband devices, previous Sprint LTE devices supported simultaneous voice and LTE (SVLTE). It could do so with two separate transmission paths from the antennas to the chipset. Voice/texting could run via 1xRTT on one transmission path. LTE could run a separate path, allowing data and voice to be used simultaneously.

 

In contrast, Sprint Triband LTE devices do not support two separate transmission paths. They have one path, shared by voice/SMS and data. We were alerted to this months in advance. However, we did not realize that the network would have to run on Circuit Switched Fallback in order for this to work and what the ramifications of this would be.

 

S4GRU was told by a source this past summer that Sprint and the OEM’s came to the conclusion that these new Triband LTE devices could not use SVLTE in the conventional way they used to, and it would require a lot of engineering, testing and cost to even attempt such a design change. It was decided to release Triband LTE devices without SVLTE. It may seem that the only drawback for doing that is Sprint Triband LTE devices would not be able to run simultaneous LTE data while on a phone call or when actively transmitting a text. But there is another. And it’s why many early adopters of these new Triband LTE smartphones no longer are being able to connect to Sprint LTE in many places that they used to.

 

How it works

 

In previous Sprint LTE phones, when a device was in Sprint LTE coverage it would park in both the LTE and CDMA Sprint networks at the same time. When a voice call came in, it would just go straight through to the device. And signal to the LTE network would be maintained the whole time while the call was active.

 

In contrast, a Sprint Triband LTE device can only stay on one technology at a time. CDMA or LTE, not both. So when a Sprint LTE Triband device is in Sprint LTE coverage it parks only in LTE. And doing so means it cannot transmit calls without Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) on the network side. CSFB and eCSFB (Enhanced Circuit Switched Fallback) are network controls that will allow a single mode/single path network to operate in two modes, both CDMA and LTE.

 

Here is how it works in the simplest way I can describe. When your Triband LTE device has an LTE signal, it cannot receive or make calls on its own. It is just using LTE data happily. However, what if someone calls you? How does it get through the CDMA network to your device? Via CSFB.

 

When the Sprint network tries to forward a call to your device but cannot see it via CDMA, it then checks for an LTE connection to your device. If it sees one, it tells your device to disconnect from LTE for a moment and reconnect to CDMA. Your device then jumps over to take the call on Sprint CDMA and the LTE session is interrupted. This happens very fast and seamlessly. Except for the loss of data availability. If you receive a text, the Sprint network is able to route it to your device via LTE.

 

Circuit Switched Fallback is a great solution to the issue of Sprint Triband LTE smartphones. But the problem here is that the Sprint network is being upgraded in Network Vision, and not all Sprint parts of the Sprint network can currently support CSFB. And it affects all Sprint Triband LTE phones, not just the Nexus 5 and LG G2.

 

Why it’s not working and impacting LTE in some places

 

As everyone reading this article probably knows, Sprint is in the middle of a network modernization program nationwide called Network Vision. It upgrades every piece of network hardware, site equipment, radios, software and network backhaul to every one of Sprint’s nearly 40,000 CDMA sites. And much of Sprint’s legacy network either doesn’t support Circuit Switched Fallback or doesn’t support it in cases where the legacy network equipment is by a different manufacturer than the new Network Vision equipment.

 

The problem that these early adopters of Sprint Triband LTE devices are encountering is that when their phones connect to the Sprint network they try to connect to LTE. And when it cannot see the CDMA network through CSFB, it then reverts back to Sprint CDMA and stays there. It does this in order to preserve device connectivity for the user to Sprint voice capability. When forcing these devices into LTE Only mode, the LTE works very well ruling out a device problem. They just are unable to use LTE in default mode without being able to have access to CSFB on the Sprint network.

 

How and when is this problem going away?

 

The good news is that most of the Sprint network is capable of supporting CSFB in some form or another now. Some markets are not having any problems at all, like Ft. Wayne/South Bend, Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, most of Chicago and Indianapolis. eCSFB is complete or very close to complete in these markets.

 

Upgrades to the Sprint network are being handled nationwide by three different OEM’s. Samsung, Alcatel/Lucent and Ericsson. They are in various stages of deployment and are currently impacted differently by region. In places where CSFB is in place and operational, there are no problems with using LTE on a Sprint Triband device.

 

And Sprint and their OEM’s are scrambling to get CSFB operational in all the other places. Some of the existing networks are capable of supporting CSFB and Sprint is working to get software upgrades in place for these networks to get it operational on them. However, some of the Sprint network has unsupported equipment from Motorola and these cannot be upgraded and will need to be replaced with their new Network Vision equipment to allow LTE and voice to work together via CSFB.

 

Currently, just over 60% of Sprint sites have their sites upgraded to new Network Vision 3G standards which allow Circuit Switched Fallback capability. However, not all 60% of these sites are currently allowing LTE to work on a Triband device. These all should be capable of using LTE on a Triband device now, or in the next few weeks. Many of these markets will need to have their MSC Switch Center’s software upgraded too for CSFB to work.

 

Beyond this, Sprint also has another 10% of their sites that have LTE operational but not the 3G upgrades that support CSFB. These 3,000 sites currently have Sprint LTE live, but it cannot be used by Triband devices without CSFB active. But there is hope for these locations. These sites do already have all the hardware needed to install upgraded 3G that will work with CSFB on the network. Sprint is scrambling with their OEM’s to get 3G up and running on these sites as soon as possible. Many have been upgraded recently and they will continue to be upgraded over the next weeks and months. I was told by an unnamed Sprint source that half of these will be CSFB capable in a month and the other half will be between 2-3 months additional beyond that.

 

Sprint should be in a position that in the next 3 months that their entire LTE network will be CSFB capable and this will go away. As each site gets CSFB capable, Sprint LTE Triband device owners will be able to connect to LTE. And some S4GRU Members have already experienced this and are now reporting some sites reappearing to be used by their Triband LTE devices. This is likely do to a recent enabling of CSFB at the connected site.

 

What about the last 30%?

 

The last 30% of the Sprint network is not currently affected by this problem because they have yet to be upgraded with Network Vision or LTE. These sites are in various stages of being upgraded. In internal correspondence, Sprint says they will now take into account CSFB availability before launching new markets.

 

Network Vision deployment will continue as normal, but OEM’s will now try to launch LTE and CDMA upgrades together at each site whenever possible and install CSFB capability at the network level for all the remaining sites. In cases where they cannot happen together, Sprint will continue to allow the LTE site to go live. But the site will only be discoverable initially to Sprint SVLTE devices. But by the time Sprint is ready to launch the whole market, CSFB will need to be operating before they issue the Press Release so customer expectations are met for all LTE device holders.

 

Conclusion

 

The bottom line here is that there are thousands of Sprint Triband LTE early adopters that are currently not able to connect to LTE sites that do not have a CDMA network connection that support Circuit Switched Fallback. But the problem is temporary, and improvements will go live every day around the nation reducing the number of affected sites. It will get better and better every day. However, we do not know how different markets will fare and when. It will be highly variable.

 

There are many advantages of being an early adopter. However in this instance, for those who are very dependent on their new found Sprint LTE service, this may be too big of a burden to bear. These folks will need to use a Sprint single LTE band device until CSFB is working in their area or, as some have threatened, use another wireless carrier.

 

At S4GRU, we believe that knowledge is power. This is the explanation of what’s going on, and what is being done about it. Now use the info to determine what’s best for you. Most of our members will likely just endure it and then reap the rewards once CSFB can be brought online in their area.

 

A parting point in all this is Sprint is promising some advantages to a single transmission path with Circuit Switched Fallback. Sprint says in their memo that Sprint Triband LTE devices with CSFB will have improved battery life and better edge of cell radio performance. We’ll be glad to enjoy those benefits when they are fully realized.

 

EDIT: Since the initial publishing of this article, it was discovered that Triband LTE devices were capable of sending/receiving texts via LTE. It is only voice calls that require Triband LTE devices to shunt back to the CDMA network via CSFB. The article has been edited to make this clarification.

 

SVLTE.jpg

Initial LTE devices were data only (like USB dongles and MiFis), then LTE devices with voice/text services use either SVLTE or CSFB. Finally, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) will be enabled in the coming years that will allow simultaneous voice and data without need of falling back to 3G/CDMA networks. But VoLTE is still at least 18 months or more from being instituted on a large scale.

 

 

Sprint Internal Memo regarding Circuit Switched Fallback issues:

eCSFB Gap Talking Points

 

Sprint’s Network Vision Plan (Spectrum)

  • Sprint’s Network Vision plan includes access to three spectrum bands, (1.9, 800 and 2.5), and LTE handsets with a single radio.
  • Access to diverse spectrum assets allows Sprint to maximize capacity and coverage.

Current Sprint LTE Devices (2 Radios)

  • Current Sprint LTE devices are Simultaneous Voice and LTE (SVLTE)—using two radios, one for voice and one for LTE data. This allows CDMA calls and LTE to operate at the same time.
  • Dual Radio SVLTE devices can degrade the user’s quality of experience – two antennas may slow throughput at the cell edge and reduce battery life.

Future Sprint LTE Devices (1 Radio)

  • CSFB and eCSFB (Circuit Switch Fall Back and enhanced Circuit Switch Fall Back) are features that enable single radio functionality in the handset.
  • eCSFB Benefits:
  • With eCSFB implementation, Sprint will be able to offer fast LTE data speeds and 3G voice supported on single radio devices. This provides a more cost effective option for Sprint’s long-term business plans to support additional spectrum bands.
  • eCSFB is expected to improve handset battery life compared to SVLTE.

eCSFB Gap Issue – What you Need to know:

  • Smart devices require eCSFB to “fall back” to 3G to accept a voice call if the user is connected to the LTE network.
  • All markets need to be upgraded with eCSFB capability.
  • eCSFB Gaps are only in non-incumbent markets where a site has 4G LTE and no 3G upgrade.

4G LTE integration with 3G is different by OEM type:

  • Incumbent markets – LTE 4G only sites can communicate with either legacy 3G or NV 3G sites.
  • Non-Incumbent – LTE 4G can only communicate with NV 3G sites; so individual sites need both NV upgrades.

LTE devices – Customer Experience

  • When 4G LTE is deployed in a non-incumbent market on sites without upgrade to 3G service, there is a gap.
  • Existing Devices – No Impact
  • eCSFB Devices – Phone becomes 3G only device

Non-Launched Markets

  • No coverage visible on Sprint.com maps but different experience for users with existing devices versus new eCSFB devices.

Launched Markets

  • Sprint coverage tools will display LTE coverage. For new LTE smart device users this could be confusing since they would expect LTE and 3G coverage with the device they purchased, but would not experience LTE until the 3G network is upgraded.

Mitigation plan:

 

New LTE Markets

  • When locking new LTE markets for announcement/ launch, eCSFB deployment status will be a factor in the analysis. New LTE markets will not be announced unless the eCSFB gap risk is low.
  • Complete the build quickly in eCSFB gap impacted markets.

Acronyms

  • CSFB – Circuit Switch Fall Back. It allows for single radio devices. (ERC)
  • eCSFB – Enhanced Circuit Switch Fall Back Next generation CSFB. (ALU, STA)
  • SVLTE – Simultaneous Voice & LTE. Allows CDMA calls and LTE to operate simultaneously
  • Incumbent – An incumbent market is one in which the OEM stays the same as before Network Vision
  • Non-incumbent – A market in which the OEM changes as well as all of the equipment.
  • ERC - Ericsson
  • ALU – Alcatel Lucent
  • STA - Samsung
  • NV – Network Vision
  • OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer (ERC, ALU, STA)
  • Gap – 4G LTE on sites without appropriate upgrades to 3G service
  • 1.9 GHz Spectrum - Provides initial capacity and coverage for voice and data services.
  • 800 MHz Spectrum - Improves coverage and in-building penetration for all services.
  • 2.5 GHz Spectrum - Increases data capacity to support higher data demands and more users.

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, October 21, 2013 - 3:55 PM MDT

 

Clarification: Many readers seem to be confusing the previously authorized and officially announced tri band Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini with this tri band Galaxy S4 reboot, which is full size. The two have quite different model numbers -- the Mini is SPH-L520, while as stated below, the tri band Galaxy S4 is SPH-L720T. Sprint has not yet formally acknowledged the latter, but it has passed FCC OET authorization. And S4GRU expects it to be another tri band handset available before the end of the year.

 

To alleviate the confusion, we are planning an overview article on Sprint Spark tri band handsets, probably to coincide with the November 8 street date next week for the first group of released handsets.

 

Six months ago, S4GRU published an article breaking down the FCC authorization documents for the Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy S4.

 

Many were disappointed that the Galaxy S4, like all other Sprint LTE devices for the past year, was limited to single band 25 LTE 1900. It was not a Sprint tri band LTE handset -- even though band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600 seemed to be right on the horizon because of the impending shutdown of the Nextel iDEN network and the likely approval of the SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire transaction. Indeed, with the arrival of several Sprint tri band mobile hotspots, TD-LTE 2600 started to become available in metros around the country late this past summer.

 

Today, we bring you another teaser article. The FCC OET database this afternoon uploaded the authorizations for this Samsung model number: SPH-L720T. Now, if you are familiar with the Galaxy S4, you know that its Sprint variant model number is SPH-L720. So, it does not take a genius to put 2 + 2 together. Or in this case, to put S4 + 2 together.

 

Yes, Samsung has just revealed a Sprint tri band Galaxy S4. It carries very similar specs to those of the original Galaxy S4, but it adds two additional Sprint bands: band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600.

 

So, between the previous release of the single band Galaxy S4 and the almost inevitable upcoming release of the tri band Galaxy "S5," look for a tri band updated variant for the Sprint Galaxy S4 in the coming months, probably before the end of the year.

 

Rest assured, this handset will be of popular interest among the faithful -- and possibly despised among those who already used a subsidized upgrade on a single band Galaxy S4 -- so we will run a full FCC OET RF breakdown in the coming days. To head off the obvious questions in the meantime, no SVDO, no SVLTE, as expected.

 

Before we go, though, view the antenna diagram below to see the Sprint tri band LTE goodness.

 

As always, stay tuned...

 

2mcvyp2.png

Source: FCC

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, September 30, 2013 - 4:41 PM MDT

 

Phew, what a September it has been for discovery/announcement of new devices likely headed to Sprint! S4GRU staff has been busy keeping a watchful eye on the FCC OET. And in an egalitarian way, we have covered nearly the gamut of mobile operating systems: Android, iOS, and now, the latest OS version for BlackBerry.

 

Yes, ahead of a potential government shutdown tomorrow that will reportedly include FCC device authorization, a Sprint relevant BlackBerry Z30 variant was added to the FCC OET database today. This will be another teaser article, not a full RF analysis, but BlackBerry devices usually have healthy ERP/EIRP. Regardless, we have gleaned from the FCC OET documents some important details to share with you.

 

In a nutshell, this BlackBerry Z30 hardware variant supports the following airlinks:

  • GSM 850/1900
  • band 2/5 W-CDMA 1900/850
  • band class 0/1/10 CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800
  • band 4/13/25 LTE 2100+1700/750/1900

Anyone familiar with the current state of the domestic wireless industry can put two and two together to see that this hardware variant covers the CDMA2000 and LTE capabilities of both VZW and Sprint. Additionally, because of the inclusion of the GSM/W-CDMA modes, the Z30 is probably a world phone, including GSM 900/1800 and at least band 1 W-CDMA 2100+1900. But as we have noted previously, FCC OET filings may divulge band support outside the US but are not required to do so.

 

The twist is that, within this single hardware Z30 variant, there do seem to exist two wireless operator versions: RFX101LW for VZW and RGB141LW for Sprint. In short, the Sprint version will include CDMA2000 band class 10 but ostensibly use firmware to lockout LTE band 4/13. So, any potential thoughts of CSIM swapping between Sprint and VZW accounts for LTE access with this handset are probably nipped in the bud. See the note from the FCC OET filing:

 

2s0mk9g.png

 

To sum up, the BlackBerry Z30 coming to Sprint will be effectively limited to single band 25 LTE 1900. It will definitely not be among the upcoming tri band LTE Sprint devices. And its VZW supported LTE bands will likely be inaccessible. On the upshot, it does still support SVLTE.

 

In only a few years, BlackBerry née RIM has gone from being the leader in smartphones to being a former champ nearly down for the count. So, do these developments -- single band LTE, VZW LTE CSIM compatibility lockout -- matter to you? If so, well, place the blame where it lies. Blame Canada.

 

 

(just barely NSFW)

 

 

Source: FCC

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Friday, September 13, 2013 - 3:15 PM MDT

 

The teaser articles continue. But this is a big one -- in a quite literal way.

 

The presumed Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy Note 3 passed through the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) on Wednesday this week. We have an article already started on it, so look for that full length rundown soon.

 

But since that SM-N900P variant hit the FCC OET, the cries about it being single band 25 LTE 1900 have been strong among the S4GRU faithful. Well, here is something potentially to make the disappointed forget those concerns.

 

Just within the last hour or two this Friday afternoon, another Samsung handset has revealed itself at the FCC OET. But this is no Galaxy Note 3. It is even larger than that. The model number SPH-L600 and dimensions (see the diagram below) suggest that this is a Galaxy Mega 6.3 headed to Sprint. The size exceeds that of the Galaxy Note 3, and in an interesting twist, the FCC OET filing even refers to the device as a "phablet."

 

The grand pronouncement, though, is that this Samsung "phablet" is indeed a tri band LTE device: band 25 LTE 1900, band 26 LTE 800, band 41 TD-LTE 2600 -- plus the usual Sprint CDMA2000 band classes.

 

 

10ii7au.png

 

In conclusion, the "SPH" model number and the specs add up. This is a huge handset for Sprint, it is tri band LTE, and it may render the Galaxy Note 3 irrelevant.

 

Enjoy! And know that there is more detailed RF info to come...

 

Source: FCC

Thread: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/4368-samsung-galaxy-mega-tri-band-sph-l600/

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 2:40 PM MDT

 

S4GRU has been on a bit of a roll of late. We had an unusually quiet summer here on The Wall, as our writing staff was frequently away on summer vacation. But we have come back with a vengeance.

 

Earlier this month, we got the next Nexus handset scoop on the rest of the tech press with our discovery of the reappearance of the LG D820 authorization docs at the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) and supposition that the D820 circumstantially has a striking amount in common with the presumed upcoming Nexus 5. Additionally, last week, we brought you a quick dissection of the two new Sprint variant iPhone models with dual band LTE only minutes after Apple released the specs, not to mention, another FCC OET discovery -- a tri band LTE Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 clearly headed to Sprint

 

All three of those articles were "Teasers." We have decided to publish shorter articles more often when longer articles may not be immediately feasible for our writing staff. Then, down the road, expect more in depth follow up pieces, such as on the Nexus 5, iPhone 5S/5C, and Galaxy Mega 6.3. Today, though, we bring you another full length FCC OET airlink article on the presumed Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

 

Late on Wednesday last week, authorizations for multiple Samsung Galaxy Note 3 variants -- all bearing the SM-N900 base numbering scheme -- started appearing in the FCC OET database. Other tech outlets had previously gotten a list of the model numbers and tied the N900A to AT&T, N900T to T-Mobile, N900V to VZW, and N900S to Sprint. But while the "A," "T," and "V" variants all arrived in the FCC OET, the "S" variant did not make an appearance, and additional info suggested that the "S" variant is instead for SK Telecom in South Korea.

 

Meanwhile, the N900R4, the "R4" variant, also had its authorizations posted to the FCC OET. And at least one tech site incorrectly pegged it as the one for Sprint and other CDMA2000 operators. But that clearly missed the absence of band class 10 CDMA1X 800, which has been a staple of Sprint devices for roughly two years now. In the end, the "R4" variant is coming to CDMA2000 operators, but USCC and C Spire are the likely destinations.

 

So, that left the N900P, the "P" variant, for Sprint, and the circumstantial evidence of being the only version with band class 10 CDMA1X 800 supports that inference. Thus, adding to S4GRU's continuing series of articles on the FCC OET authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, and LG G2 is Sprint's expected Samsung Galaxy Note 3:

  • CDMA1X/EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900)
  • LTE 5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
  • LTE UE category 4
  • W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850)
  • GSM 850/1900
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • 802.11n MCS index 7 (single spatial stream, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
  • 802.11ac MCS index 9 (single spatial stream, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
  • SVLTE support, including SVLTE and mobile hotspot (both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
  • SVDO absent
  • RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 19.82-20.93 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 18.91-21.30 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 21.85-23.63 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • RF conducted power maximum: 24.75 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800)
  • CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
  • NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
  • Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
  • Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)

v4mes1.png

 

acd92e.png

 

By now, many of our readers have a solid understanding of how to analyze the bullet points listed above. As such, we will hit just some of the highlights.

 

Samsung has finally started adding LTE 10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth authorization to its Sprint devices. That may be inconsequential during the lifetime of these devices, but it is nice to see, nonetheless, as other OEMs have included 10 MHz FDD capability from the beginning.

 

The Note 3 is reportedly another world phone for Sprint. While the specs for FCC testing include only those bands licensed in the US, the GSM 850/1900 capabilities are actually quad band: GSM 850/900/1800/1900. Likewise, W-CDMA 850/1900 expands to include bands 1 and 8 for W-CDMA 2100+1900/900 outside of the US.

 

The Note 3 also follows the trend of devices released this summer that now support mobile hotspot via 5 GHz Wi-Fi. That can be handy in congested 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environments, and congested 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environments are now basically everywhere that people live and work.

 

Devices with SMR 800 MHz capability seem to be coming through the FCC OET now with only conducted power testing, instead of radiated power testing. I suspected previously that a Class II Permissive Change would be required to include ERP testing, but that seems no longer to be the case. Looking back at the Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy S4 authorization docs, they submitted only conducted power specs for CDMA1X 800. Of course, the Galaxy S4 has already been out in the world all summer. I am not sure what to make of this, but Part 90 -- which governs SMR 800 MHz -- may not require ERP testing. So, going forward, we will report conducted power if that is the only data available.

 

But the phrase that dare not be heard among the committed is "single band." One LTE band. That is the elephant in the room in this article. Yes, the "P" variant is band 25 LTE 1900 only. Sources have suggested to S4GRU that tri band LTE handsets headed to Sprint will not support SVLTE. As such, some have hypothesized that Sprint sacrificed tri band capability for SVLTE support in the Note 3 because it is, indeed, a "phablet." Using a "phablet" as a phone against one's ear looks clownish, so using the "phablet" in hand with an earpiece or Bluetooth headset may be expected, leading to more SVLTE usage.

 

However, further examination of FCC OET docs on the multiple Note 3 variants and subsequently announced Sprint version Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 tri band "phablet" pokes some holes in that SVLTE theory.

 

The major revelation, which will bring no solace to Sprint subs who had been expecting and are now pining for a Sprint tri band Note 3, though, is that the "R4" version headed to USCC manages to support both SVLTE and quad band LTE: band 4, 5, 12, 25 LTE 2100+1700/850/700/1900.

 

See the antenna locations and simultaneous transmission paths diagrams:

30xex4g.png

 

238zlg.png

 

The big takeaway is that Samsung has managed to cram in SVLTE and multi band LTE for relatively minor regional CDMA2000 operators. Why not Sprint?

 

Well, the Sprint variant Note 3 is a world phone, while the regional CDMA2000 operator variant is not. And the Sprint version has to support band class 10 CDMA1X 800 and band 25 LTE 1900 -- unlike any others. Does the engineering required for world phone and Sprint boutique band/class capabilities present an obstacle to multi band LTE? Is SVLTE worth the sacrifice?

 

Let the discussion flow...

 

Source: FCC, FCC

Thread: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/4318-samsung-galaxy-note-3/

WiWavelength
blog-0953444001378839298.png

by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 1:10 PM MDT

 

To cut right to the chase, Apple announced at its live event today two new iPhone models: high end iPhone 5S and mid range iPhone 5C. Both are coming to Sprint and both support Sprint LTE -- but only dual band Sprint LTE. The new crop of iPhone models for the next year will not be tri band LTE handsets on Sprint.

 

The LTE bands supported by iPhone 5S (A1453) and iPhone 5C (A1456) are substantial and as follows: band 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26. For Sprint users, that means dual band LTE 1900/800.

 

While 13 total bands seems impressive, a few of those bands -- such as band 2/25 and band 5/26 -- are subset/superset bands. The big takeaway for Sprint users, though, is that band 41 is absent this year. So, TD-LTE 2600 will be coming soon to several tri band Android handsets but not to the dual band two new iPhone models. Band 38 TD-LTE 2600 is limited to the Asia/Oceania variants.

 

Also worthy of note, Sprint and SoftBank share the same iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C variants this year. Whether that is merely coincidence is impossible to determine. But Sprint and SoftBank have talked about combined economy of scale as a benefit of their tie up.

 

To conclude, the new iPhone FCC OET docs have not yet trickled out, but as they do, we will have more info to come. Stay tuned...

 

Source: Apple

Thread: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/4442-the-iphone-5s-iphone-5c-not-tri-band-lte-was-next-iphone-to-be-announced-on-september-10/

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 5:33 PM MDT

 

About a month ago, our FCC OET reporter, Josh McDaniel, noted that a mystery handset, the LG D820, came and went from the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology). Its authorizations were uploaded, then quickly rescinded, citing confidentiality reasons.

 

Well, today, the LG D820 authorization documents are back. And we are looking at a 3GPP/3GPP2 handset that runs nearly the full North American wireless airlink gamut:

  • GSM 850/1900
  • W-CDMA 1900/2100+1700/850 (band 2, 4, 5)
  • CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800 (band class 0, 1, 10)
  • LTE 2100+1700/850/700/1900/800 (band 4, 5, 17, 25, 26)
  • TD-LTE 2600 (band 41)

The only notable omission is LTE 750, VZW's currently boutique band 13 -- possibly left out for political reasons, since VZW has a strained relationship with Nexus devices, or for technical reasons, as band 13 has an inverted FDD uplink/downlink duplex. But in a nutshell, this handset looks like it could be headed to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, covering all of their bases.

 

Here is the kicker, though. One of our moderators, Tim Yu, noted a significant resemblance between the back plate in the FCC OET filing and the back plate of a mystery Nexus device in a widely circulated photo recently from the Google campus.

 

 

1ETQzow.jpg

 

 

So, you be the judge. Based on the specs and pics, does the the LG D820 look like it could be the upcoming Nexus 5???

 

More to come...

 

Source: FCC

Thread: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/4366-lg-d820-google-nexus-5/

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 11:35 AM MDT

 

Welcome back from summer vacation. The S4GRU writing staff, too, has returned and is ready to catch up on some of the developments from over the last two or three months.

 

In late July, Sprint released two tri band LTE mobile hotspots and one tri band LTE USB dongle. Meanwhile, Clearwire had lit up band 41 TD-LTE 2600 on numerous sites in several markets around the country. Around the same time, the LG G2 became the first Sprint tri band LTE handset to pass through FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization.

 

As is our tradition by now, we add to S4GRU's stalwart series of articles on the FCC OET authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One, and Samsung Galaxy S4 our look at the RF faculties of the LG G2:

  • CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE bands 25, 26, 41 (i.e. LTE 1900/800, TD-LTE 2600)
  • band 25 LTE 3/5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
  • band 26 LTE 1.4/3/5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
  • band 41 TD-LTE 10/15/20 MHz TDD carrier bandwidth
  • LTE UE category 4
  • W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850)
  • GSM 850/1900
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • 802.11n MCS index 7 (single spatial stream, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
  • 802.11ac MCS index 9 (single spatial stream, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
  • SVDO and SVLTE support absent
  • RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 19.80 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 21.64 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 23.09-27.08 dBm (LTE 1900), 17.77-21.29 dBm (TD-LTE 2600)
  • CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
  • NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
  • Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
  • Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)

141o8l1.png

262p65z.png

 

The LG G2 is not only the first revealed Sprint tri band LTE handset but also the first Sprint category 4 UE of any kind because it is utilizing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974). The MSM8974 is a 28 nm process SoC that contains processor, cellular baseband, and WLAN/GNSS baseband all on one chipset -- à la the MSM8960 that dominated the first half of last year. The difference, of course, is that the MSM8974 has a quad core processor and a UE category 4 cellular baseband. The latter supports up to 150 Mbps on the downlink, 50 Mbps on the uplink -- though those speeds will not likely be seen on Sprint during the lifespan of this handset due to spectrum bandwidth constraints.

 

Also, we cannot confirm at this point that the G2 is actually using the internal WLAN/GNSS baseband capabilities of the MSM8974 and not a separate chipset solution from Broadcom, as has been the trend with the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. But having at least both processor and cellular baseband on the same chipset should be a step in the right direction.

 

Regarding maximum ERP/EIRP, we are slightly modifying the way that we report those figures. Even within a given frequency band, max ERP/EIRP can vary according to frequency and modulation. So, if the FCC OET docs show greater than 1 dB of variance in a certain band and airlink, we now report that range instead of a single max figure.

 

As we have stated in the past, FCC OET testing includes only transmitters, not receivers. Thus, we have to extrapolate overall RF prowess based on mobile uplink transmission capabilities, and that is an inexact science.

 

In a nutshell, though, the CDMA2000 band class 0 and 1 power outputs appear to be a bit on the weak side, while the band 25 LTE power output looks good. The band 41 TD-LTE EIRP is lower than we would like to see -- especially considering BRS/EBS 2600 MHz propagation characteristics -- but TD-LTE 2600 will be used largely as an offload band for handsets, probably less so for hotspots.

 

What is missing are band class 10 CDMA2000 and band 26 LTE ERP figures. The original FCC OET filing in late July included only conducted power figures for that band class and band. Conducted power is what is delivered to the antenna, not what is actually radiated from the antenna. And even though the G2 at the end of August has already had one Class II Permissive Change filing, we expect at least one more Class II filing with additional ERP figures before this Sprint variant hits the streets.

 

Last year, the LG Optimus G had its initial, incomplete FCC OET filing in the summer, followed by a Class II change in the fall and a release in November. In our Optimus G article last summer, we wrote not to expect the street date right away, and we will offer the same caveat here. The rumored November release for the Sprint variant G2 should probably be the expectation.

 

Source: FCC

MacinJosh
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by Josh McDaniel

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 2:30 AM MDT

 

On August 21, Samsung received approval from the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) for a Sprint variant of the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, model number SM-T217S (Wi-Fi versions of the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 are SM-T210 & SM-T211). According to the FCC authorization docs, the Galaxy Tab has a dual core 1.7 GHz processor and may come in a 16 GB storage size if the picture on the FCC label page is accurate.

 

Specs for the Wi-Fi only version are 3 MP rear camera with a 1.3 MP front facing camera, 1 GB RAM, up to 64 GB of microSD storage, and 7” screen with 1024 x 600 display. (All specs are subject to change before official release, as the processor on the Wi-Fi only model is 1.2 GHz dual core and it only comes with 8 GB storage.)

storage%20size%20pic%202.jpg

 

Here is the antenna diagram:

 

gt3%20antenna%20locations.jpg

  • CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks)
  • LTE 3, 5, 10 MHz FDD channel bandwidths
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with hotspot mode on 2.4 GHz only (LTE, EV-DO, and CDMA1X)
  • Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 22.10 dBm (CDMA 850), 27.11 dBm (CDMA 1900), 24.96 dBm (CDMA 800), 28.30 dBm (LTE 1900, 5MHz FDD with QPSK), 27.20 dBm (LTE 1900, 5MHz FDD with 16QAM)

gt3.jpg

 

Although this tablet has a fairly strong uplink LTE EIRP, it is pretty weak on specs with only a dual core processor, 1 GB RAM, low screen resolution, and only single band LTE. For these reasons, this Galaxy Tab should be a budget device.

 

Source: FCC

digiblur
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by Travis Griggs

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:15 AM MDT

 

In Part 1 of the "What is a PRL?" series we covered the the initial basics and building blocks of the PRL which covered the 1X portion of the wireless connection. I encourage you to read the article if you have not already done so.

 

You may have seen the various claims of receiving faster or even slower speeds with the mysterious PRL update procedure that seems to randomly happen to our devices. In reality it could be possible that nothing changed in regards to EVDO at all in the PRL. After a PRL update is applied to the device, whether it is pushed from Sprint or user initiated, the CDMA radio will reset just like when airplane mode is cycled on and off. This causes the device to reacquire with the network which could change the site and/or channel the device was using previously. AJ wrote an excellent article, "Can toggling airplane mode actually improve your 3G data speeds?" explaining the EVDO acquisition process.

 

With all that being said let's jump right in and look at a small piece of the PRL to determine how a device connects to the EVDO network.

 

PRL1.JPG

 

In a mock scenario, the device scanned and did not find signal for the SIDs 22443, 22430, etc but was able to acquire 4159. The device will then check to see if any data records are associated with the connection. The assn tag field for 4159 is a 5. Any records inside this one geo block are checked for the assn tag of 5. In some Sprint PRL versions, the creators have failed to place the EVDO record in the correct geo creating a type of orphaned EVDO record issue, but this is not the case with this example. Record #279 has an assn tag match for the value of 5. The record is analyzed and it is determined that the device will use acquisition record #59 with a 0084:0AC0 subnet and no roaming indicator. If no EVDO signal can be found in the area with this search criteria, the device will fall back to using 1X for data and periodically scan for EVDO. The EVDO subnet is very similar to a SID, but since it is a 128 bit address scheme it offers more combinations than a SID. If needed, the provider could actually assign different priorities to individual sectors of one cell site using the subnet IDs. You may have already noticed multiple SIDs in this block share the assn tag of 5 along with the same acquisition records. The PRL is designed like a relational database where redundant data is shared to save space. So, how does the device know which channels to scan for EVDO? Let's look at the acquisition records of 2 and 59 used by SID 4159.

 

PRL_ACQ2.JPG

 

The PCS band channels 50, 75, 100, 175, 200, 250, and 25 are used to scan for SID 4159 1X. These are not the only channels that you device will actually use. These are only used to acquire the initial CDMA handshake. The basestation of the site may direct the handset to rest on channel 25 but during an active phone call channel 150 might be used if the other available channels are at capacity.

 

PRL_ACQ59.JPG

 

For EVDO, the device will scan 75, 175, 225, and 250 with a subnet of 0084:0AC0. If another carrier's EVDO signal happens to be on one of these channels it will be ignored as the subnets do not match. Just like on the 1X side and explained in AJ's EVDO article referenced above, the channel scan is only utilized for the initial EVDO handshake. The cell site may have a channel available that is not on the PRL list, which your device could end up using based on the basestation configuration. After attempting to digest all of this material you can see how the new PRL file itself is usually not why the speeds decreased or increased. If the spectrum licenses allowed for it in the area, Sprint could add an additional EVDO carrier channel of 300 to all of the neighboring sites and all of the handsets will be able to use it. The users in this area would probably see faster speeds due to this without a single PRL update.

 

How does EVDO roaming work?

 

PRL2.JPG

 

In this example the device is connected to SID 4160 which is Verizon Wireless. Using the same analysis explained above, we see a data record of 5 is assigned. "Wait! I thought Sprint used data record 5 already?" This is correct. While your device is roaming on 4160 for 1X connectivity it is also scanning for Sprint EVDO. In order to save on roaming costs, Sprint has designed the PRLs this way. One negative impact on the user is additional battery drain due to this scan combined with the already active scan to find a non-roaming 1X signal. In the standard PRL for residential accounts, EVDO roaming on Verizon Wireless is not allowed. You will only find EVDO roaming on smaller regional CDMA carriers in some areas. On certain corporate accounts, Sprint configures devices with PRLs allowing Verizon Wireless EVDO roaming. While roaming, whether it be 1X or EVDO, the Sprint Terms & Conditions state: "Sprint reserves the right, without notice, to deny, terminate, modify, disconnect or suspend service if off-network usage in a month exceeds: (1) voice: 800 min. or a majority of minutes; or (2) data: 300 megabytes or a majority of kilobytes."

 

Stay tuned for part 3 of the “What is a PRL?” series. We will cover the 800SMR SIDS, 800SMR acquisition records, and the coveted MCC/MNC LTE records shown in the PRL screen shots above.

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Friday, May 10, 2013 - 12:35 PM MDT

 

Welcome back to S4GRU's continuing series focused on understanding many of the signal metrics displayed on your devices' engineering screens. If you missed part one a few weeks ago, that is a good place to start for background info.

 

Last time out, we covered 3GPP2 band class 1 PCS 1900 MHz, in which Sprint has long operated its CDMA2000 network, and 3GPP band 25 PCS 1900 MHz, in which Sprint is currently deploying its LTE network.

 

Today, let us begin with the last of Sprint's current native spectrum usage -- 3GPP2 band class 10 SMR 800 MHz. This is what 3GPP2 also calls the "Secondary 800 MHz band," and we will understand why when we finish up with band class 0 Cellular 850 MHz a bit later today.

 

First, take a look at the following CDMA1X engineering screenshot:

 

juacuw.png

 

This handset is camped on Sprint's brand new band class 10 CDMA1X 800 overlay, which is replacing iDEN 800 and is currently available in select markets around the country.

 

Now, as we did last time, we can take into account the band class and carrier channel number, then use the appropriate formulas to calculate both uplink and downlink center frequencies:

 

uplink center frequency (MHz) = 806 + (0.025 × carrier channel)

downlink center frequency (MHz) = 851 + (0.025 × carrier channel)

 

In other words, the spacing in between potential carrier channel assignments in band class 10 is 0.025 MHz (or 25 kHz). This is due to the SMR 800 MHz band's legacy of dispatch and iDEN, both of which conform to 25 kHz channelization. And the band class 10 range of channel numbers extends from 0-719.

 

So, using our formulas, band class 10 carrier channel 476 in the included screenshot has an uplink center frequency of 817.9 MHz, a downlink center frequency of 862.9 MHz. This is the one and only band class 10 carrier channel that Sprint will employ across most of the country. In parts of the Southeast where SouthernLINC also operates in rebanded SMR 800 MHz spectrum, Sprint users will instead see band class 10 channel 526, which has uplink and downlink center frequencies of 819.15 MHz and 864.15 MHz, respectively, just as S4GRU detailed in an article a year ago.

 

As for band 26 LTE 800, well, that should be coming online in the next several months, but no devices are yet available. So, for both of those reasons, we cannot post any engineering screenshots. What we can anticipate, however, based on SMR 800 MHz spectrum constraints, is that Sprint's 5 MHz FDD LTE 800 carrier likely will be centered somewhere in the 821.1-821.5 MHz x 866.1-866.5 MHz ranges, translating to uplink and downlink EARFCN ranges of 26761-26765 and 8761-8765, respectively.

 

I will be out in the field with my spectrum analyzer in the coming months, ready to capture and publish a first peek at the LTE 800 carrier. And expect a follow up article on LTE 800 engineering later this year.

 

Now, let us conclude with a look at Sprint roaming service in 3GPP2 band class 0 Cellular 850 MHz. Or this is what 3GPP2 has traditionally referred to as the "800 MHz band." And that, as I piqued earlier, is why the "Secondary 800 MHz band" name comes into play for band class 10 SMR 800 MHz.

 

In more recent years, the "800 MHz" nomenclature has become problematic, as it makes distinguishing between band class 0 and band class 10 difficult for less informed users. For a good example of this, see the iPhone 4S tech specs, which mislead many into thinking that it supports Sprint's band class 10 CDMA1X 800 overlay. For this reason, I have long advocated using "Cellular 850 MHz" as distinct terminology.

 

That background aside, let us examine a CDMA1X engineering screen of a Sprint device roaming on VZW:

 

ejxv1z.png

 

This handset is idling on channel assignment 425. Again, we can use the appropriate formulas to calculate both uplink and downlink center frequencies:

 

uplink center frequency (MHz) = 825 + (0.03 × carrier channel)

downlink center frequency (MHz) = 870 + (0.03 × carrier channel)

 

So, that VZW channel 425 is centered at 837.75 MHz x 882.75 MHz, which is toward the bottom of the Cellular B block license, as we will see in just a moment.

 

First, in the Cellular 850 MHz band, channelization is 0.03 MHz (or 30 kHz), as that dates back to the original analog AMPS standard, which used 30 kHz FM channels and got us all started on this cellularized wireless network journey.

 

Second, we encounter a complication with band class 0. The above formula works only for a subset of channel assignments, 1-799. For channel assignments 991-1023, we have to use slightly modified formulas:

 

uplink center frequency (MHz) = 825 + [0.03 × (carrier channel − 1023)]

downlink center frequency (MHz) = 870 + [0.03 × (carrier channel − 1023)]

 

The reason for this complication is complicated itself. When the FCC originally created the Cellular 850 MHz band plan in the 1980s, it was 825-845 MHz x 870-890 MHz, divided into two equal 10 MHz FDD (10 MHz x 10 MHz) licenses: Cellular A block (825-835 MHz x 870-880 MHz) and Cellular B block (835-845 MHz x 880-890 MHz). Each block consists of 333 AMPS channels, A block covering 1-333, B block running 334-666.

 

Not long after, the FCC expanded the Cellular 850 MHz band, but it could not do so by simply adding spectrum exclusively at the bottom or the top of the band plan. Because of spectrum constraints and equal license bandwidth, the FCC had to add a sliver at the bottom of the band plan and two at the top of the band plan. The additions became known as "A low," "A high," and "B high." See my band plan graphic below:

 

30axfl4.png

 

Since "A high" (1.5 MHz FDD) and "B high" (2.5 MHz FDD) continue as upper end extensions of the band plan, they follow the original center frequency formula, adding channels 667-799. "A low" (1 MHz FDD) tacked on at the bottom of the original plan is the anomaly. It requires its own center frequency formula and adds channels 991-1023. Also, note the missing channels 800-990. Those are a mystery, unbeknownst even to me.

 

Additionally, because it is only 1 MHz FDD, "A low" is not frequently used for CDMA2000 carrier channels, which are always 1.25 MHz FDD in bandwidth. So, many of the carrier channel assignments in "A low" are invalid, since they would cause the CDMA1X or EV-DO carrier to extend off the lower edge of the band. If "A low" is utilized, the only permissible channel assignments are 1013-1023, all of which cause the CDMA2000 carrier to extend into the original A block. So, if you ever encounter a band class 0 channel assignment in the 1013-1023 range, you have found something of a rare bird.

 

Well, that covers the relationships among bands, band classes, carrier channel assignments, EARFCNs, and center frequencies. Next time, we will turn our attention to another signal metric. I am thinking maybe SIDs and NIDs or PN offsets but have not decided yet. See you then...

 

Sources: 3GPP, 3GPP2, FCC

WiWavelength
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by Josh McDaniel

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 9:35 AM MDT

 

Last year, LG released a mid-range device that made its way from one CDMA carrier to another. This year appears to be no exception. The LG LG870 recently passed through the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) with Sprint LTE and band 10 CDMA2000 on board.

 

If the LG Viper (LS840) last year is any indication, it was released as the Connect (MS840) on MetroPCS, and then as the Lucid (VS840) on Verizon before it came to Sprint. In January of this year, MetroPCS released the Spirit (MS870), and earlier this month, Verizon released the Lucid 2 (VS870). Now, it seems to be Sprint’s turn again.

 

However, it currently appears that Sprint is releasing this handset on its Boost brand under the codename FX1, as the model number is LG870, not LS870. (As of now, the name and that it may be released only on Boost has not been confirmed.) But all previous Sprint LG phones from last year have model numbers beginning with LS.

 

The Bluetooth 4.0 profile supports HSP, HFP 1.6, A2DP, AVRCP 1.3, OPP, FTP, PBAP, SPP, HID, GAVDP, SDAP, PAN, and MAP, according to the Bluetooth SIG, which also lists the phone as “(LG870 (for Sprint/Wholesale)).” Sprint wholesale partner Ting, anyone?

 

As for specs, if this phone is like its 870 model counterparts, it will have a 1.2 GHz dual core processor (possibly Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8960) with 1 GB RAM, 5 MP rear camera with 1080p HD video recording, and 1.3 MP front facing camera.

 

According to the FCC authorization docs, LG sent the handset to testing with Android 4.0.4 on board, but according to cloud4sites mtest, it has Jelly Bean 4.1.2 on board. So, hopefully it will be released with 4.1.2.

  • CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE band class 25 (LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks)
  • LTE 3, 5, 10 MHz FDD channel bandwidths
  • SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz Wi-Fi tether
  • Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 26.60 dBm (CDMA1X 850), 26.26 dBm (EV-DO 850), 26.53 dBm (CDMA1X 1900), 26.16 dBm (EV-DO 1900), 25.06 dBm (CDMA1X 800), 25.20 (EV-DO 800), 25.11 dBm (LTE 1900, 3MHz FDD), 24.93 dBm (LTE 1900, 5MHz FDD), 24.70 dBm (LTE 1900, 10 MHz FDD)
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • NFC

In their FCC OET authorization filings, OEMs customarily request temporary confidentiality regarding internal and external photos of their devices. But in an unusual move, LG has requested permanent confidentiality for, among other things, antenna distance and simultaneous scenarios for SAR analysis. So, no antenna diagram is available at this time, nor maybe ever unless a teardown review is forthcoming.

 

Sources: FCC, Bluetooth SIG, Cloud4sites mtest

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Friday, April 26, 2013 - 6:29 AM MDT

 

A significant piece of S4GRU's educational mission is helping our readers understand what goes on behind the scenes and underneath the hood in the operation of a wireless network. This often requires getting readers to access internal engineering (or debug) screens on their handsets to view numbers and metrics, such as PN offset, Ec/Io, cell identity, etc., as we track the progress of Sprint's Network Vision deployment around the country. So, S4GRU staff thought it long overdue to publish a tutorial on what all of those engineering screen numbers and metrics actually mean. And in this first part of what will hopefully be a long running series, we will examine frequencies, namely center frequencies.

 

First, let us kick things off with CDMA2000 (e.g. CDMA1X/EV-DO).

 

CDMA2000 is divided into band classes. Those band classes basically represent spectrum bands of operation. Some common CDMA2000 band classes familiar to Sprint users include: band class 0 (Cellular 850 MHz), band class 1 (PCS 1900 MHz), band class 10 (SMR 800 MHz), and band class 15 (AWS 2100+1700 MHz).

 

Then, each band class is further divided into carrier channels. These carrier channel numbers represent the actual RF locations -- center frequencies -- of the carrier channels that we use for voice and data services.

 

To illustrate, see the EV-DO engineering screenshot below, specifically the "Channel Number" and "Band Class" fields:

 

148dhxj.png

 

Taking into account the band class and carrier channel number, we can use the following formulas to calculate both uplink and downlink center frequencies:

 

uplink center frequency (MHz) = 1850 + (0.05 × carrier channel)

downlink center frequency (MHz) = 1930 + (0.05 × carrier channel)

 

In other words, the spacing in between potential carrier channel assignments in band class 1 is 0.05 MHz (or 50 kHz). And the band class 1 range of carrier channel numbers extends from 0-1199.

 

So, using our formulas, the band class 1 carrier channel 100 in the included screenshot has an uplink center frequency of 1855 MHz, a downlink center frequency of 1935 MHz. This FDD paired set of center frequencies falls toward the lower end of the PCS A block 30 MHz license, which is 1850-1865 MHz x 1930-1945 MHz.

 

Next, we can shift over to the 3GPP (e.g. LTE) side, which does things a bit differently.

 

3GPP sets forth bands, instead of band classes, but otherwise, the functions of bands and band classes are the same. In the US, common 3GPP bands for LTE include: band 4 (AWS 2100+1700 MHz), band 13 (Upper 700 MHz), and band 17 (Lower 700 MHz). But we are most interested in band 25 (PCS 1900 MHz + G block), the band in which Sprint is initially deploying LTE.

 

As with carrier channel numbers in CDMA2000 band classes, 3GPP bands are subdivided into Evolved Absolute Radio Frequency Channel Numbers (EARFCNs). And like carrier channel numbers, EARFCNs indicate center frequencies. However, EARFCNs do so separately for uplink and downlink, as LTE allows for different pairings of uplink and downlink via carrier aggregation.

 

Now, see the LTE engineering screenshot below for its "Band," "UL channel," and "DL channel" fields:

 

20qvdk.png

 

Per band 25, we can enter the "UL/DL channels" (i.e. EARFCNs) into the following formulas to determine again both uplink and downlink center frequencies:

 

uplink center frequency (MHz) = 1850 + [0.1 × (uplink EARFCN - 26040)]

downlink center frequency (MHz) = 1930 + [0.1 × (downlink EARFCN - 8040)]

 

In this case, spacing between EARFCNs is 0.1 MHz (or 100 kHz). Additionally, the uplink EARFCN range is 26040-26689, the downlink EARFCN range 8040-8689, both for band 25.

 

And in the end, EARFCN 26665 in the included screenshot has an uplink center frequency of 1912.5 MHz, while EARFCN 8665 has a downlink center frequency of 1992.5 MHz. This is an FDD paired set of center frequencies, not a carrier aggregated set, and it resides exactly in the middle of the PCS G block 10 MHz license, which is 1910-1915 MHz x 1990-1995 MHz.

 

In part two, we will take a similar look at center frequencies in the PCS 1900 MHz band's lower frequency cousins, SMR 800 MHz and Cellular 850 MHz. So, stay tuned.

 

Sources: 3GPP, 3GPP2

WiWavelength
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by Josh McDaniel

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, April 8, 2013 - 1:19 PM MDT

 

On April 5, the mysterious Samsung SPH-L500 passed thru the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology), indicating that it is now authorized for use in the US on the Sprint network. S4GRU can report only the details that are currently available, but we will update the article as more info emerges.

 

The phone measures roughly 5.24 inches tall by 2.68 inches wide, making it slightly smaller than the Galaxy S3 and S4 and slightly larger than the Galaxy S3 mini that it was originally rumored to be based off of, and comes with a 1.4 GHz dual core processor. As was previously noted from the Bluetooth SIG report in November, this phone has support for Bluetooth 4.0 and the following profiles: HFP1.5, HSP, OPP, A2DP, AVRCP, GAVDP, PAN, PBAP, HID, and MAP.

 

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As you can see from the antenna diagram, CDMA1X and EVDO share the same antenna path, so SVDO is not possible, but SVLTE is possible. The phone also supports simultaneous LTE and Wi- Fi tether on 2.4 GHz, but not on 5 GHz. Lastly, it is not capable of supporting simultaneous Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as they also share the same antenna path.

 

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  • CDMA1X + EV-DO bands 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks)
  • LTE 5 MHz FDD channel bandwidth
  • SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi tether
  • Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 21.45 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.11 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 23.12 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 22.20 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • LTE antenna configuration 1 uplink, 2 downlink (i.e. 2x2 downlink MIMO)
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • NFC with antenna built into battery

According to the HTTP header from cloud4sites.com, the SPH-L500 has Android 4.1.2. SXTPdevelopers.com member “sextape” rumored the specs on the phone to be a 4.65” screen with a resolution of 1280 x 720, 8 MP rear camera and 1.9 MP front facing camera, 1 GB RAM, 8 GB built-in memory, and microSD Card slot supporting up to 64 GB cards. The chipset is said to be the Qualcomm MSM8930AA, which is apparently the same chipset found in the new HTC First by Facebook and HTC. If the SPH-L500 is released with these specs, they are pretty decent for a mid-range phone, considering all mid-range Sprint LTE phones up until now have only had 5 MP rear cameras and 4” 480 x 800 resolution displays.

 

Sources: FCC, cloud4sites, SXTP

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:10 AM MDT

 

Update: The Samsung review embargo has been lifted overnight, and Galaxy S4 reviews are being published around the Web today. Thanks to one of our favorite, highly thorough reviewers, Brian Klug at AnandTech, we can confirm that the Galaxy S4 follows the recent HTC One in providing a removable micro-SIM. So, while two data points do not necessarily a trend make, the One and Galaxy S4 do suggest that removable SIMs for Sprint LTE handsets are here to stay.

 

Arguably the most hotly anticipated handset of the year, rivaling even the next iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 in its Sprint variant popped up in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database late yesterday, meaning that the next Galaxy is now authorized to operate in the US and is likely just a few weeks away from a Sprint street date. Not a revolutionary overhaul of the very successful Galaxy S3 platform of last year, the Galaxy S4 maintains a strong family resemblance to its older sibling but does generally and for Sprint specifically add a number of evolutionary enhancements, such as a larger 1080p display, world roaming capability, wireless charging cover functionality, and some transmit power increases.

 

Thus, adding to S4GRU's long standing series of articles on the FCC OET authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and HTC One is our run through of the RF capabilities of the Galaxy S4:

  • CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks)
  • LTE 5 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
  • LTE UE category 3
  • W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850)
  • GSM 850/1900
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • 802.11n MCS index 7, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth
  • 802.11ac MCS index 9, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth
  • SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi tether
  • RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 25.39 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 24.62 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 22.83 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
  • CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
  • Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
  • Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)

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Breaking down the RF specs, honestly, the Galaxy S4 may come across as a disappointment to many. That is primarily, though, because the reality could hardly live up to the expectations.

 

First, the Galaxy S4 does not support band 26 LTE 800 nor band 41 TD-LTE 2600. Reports are that Sprint will not release any dual band LTE devices and will skip straight to tri band. Those devices, however, are still at least six months off, so like all Sprint LTE devices before it, the Galaxy S4 is limited to band 25 LTE 1900 on the native Sprint network.

 

Additionally, the Galaxy S4's band 25 LTE 1900 is limited to 5 MHz FDD bandwidth. This seems to be largely a Samsung quirk, as Sprint LTE devices from other OEMs are tested and authorized for 10 MHz FDD (or greater) as well. That being said, this will likely be of no consequence, as all Sprint LTE FDD deployment for at least the next several years is apt to remain based on 5 MHz FDD carriers.

 

Also, unlike the recent HTC One, the Galaxy S4 does not appear to be particularly optimized for the Sprint LTE network. Using the FCC OET authorization documents, we can gauge a device's RF prowess by examining its maximum transmit ERP/EIRP and at what frequency that max occurs. This is by no means a perfect simulacrum for both transmission and reception, but we can say that Galaxy S4 LTE is at its max RF wise in the traditional PCS A-F blocks, not the PCS G block 1912.5 MHz center frequency where Sprint is deploying its initial LTE carrier nationwide.

 

Staying on ERP/EIRP discussion, the Galaxy S4 looks to be a rather strong performer on roaming CDMA1X/EV-DO 850 and the now being deployed Sprint native CDMA1X 800. Both show quite high ERP. On the flip side, the EIRP for CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 is good, too, but oddly less than the ERP of the CDMA2000 airlinks below 1 GHz that enjoy significant propagation advantages. With most other handsets, the transmit power relationship is reversed, CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 transmit power being greater to compensate for its greater path loss.

 

Furthermore, ERP/EIRP was tested with both the standard battery cover and the wireless charging cover. A definite caveat, the wireless charging cover reduces ERP/EIRP by up to 6 dB. Most likely, the induction coil in the wireless charging cover absorbs some of the transmitted RF, thus reducing the radiated power. For some users, the convenience of wireless charging may outweigh the hit to wireless performance. But S4GRU cannot generally recommend wireless charging due to its inefficiency (much power is wasted as heat) and detriment to RF.

 

As for simultaneous voice and data, the Galaxy S4 does support SVLTE but is the latest in a long line of Sprint LTE handsets now to forgo SVDO. Realistically, this comes as no great surprise, as we have not seen SVDO capability in any new handset since last summer. Either this is a limitation of the Qualcomm MDM9615 baseband modem that has become standard equipment or SVDO is no longer a strong priority as Sprint LTE coverage grows weekly. Regardless, CDMA1X and EV-DO share a transmit path (indicated in the FCC OET diagram above); hence, simultaneous CDMA1X voice and EV-DO data is not supported.

 

As S4GRU has reported in the past, the FCC OET authorization documents are not required to disclose world phone capabilities because those bands are not in use in the US. However, the presence of GSM 850/1900 and W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850) is strongly indicative of the inclusion of international roaming capabilities, too. Indeed, other outlets are reporting that all variants of the Galaxy S4 include at a minimum quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and W-CDMA bands 1, 2, 5, 8 (i.e. W-CDMA 2100+1900/1900/850/900) -- the latter supporting DC-HSPA+ on the downlink and HSUPA on the uplink. While we cannot confirm these reports at this time, they certainly do seem plausible. What also remains unconfirmed at this point is the SIM situation: embedded or removable. As soon as this info comes to light, we will update the article.

 

Source: FCC

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Friday, February 22, 2013 - 2:55 PM MST

 

Update: Many hands on reviews of the HTC One are emerging this week. Courtesy of Engadget, we can report that the Sprint variant is one of the very first Sprint LTE handsets to include a removable micro-SIM. Removable SIM cards have long been part of the Network Vision roadmap for 2013, so it looks like that time may have arrived.

 

S4GRU welcomes you to the first major Sprint handset announcement of 2013. Earlier this week, the upcoming HTC One was revealed at an event in New York City. Not to be confused with last year's HTC One X, the HTC One is the new flagship of the line and will be offered by dozens of carriers around the world, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. Last year, Sprint got essentially a customized version of the HTC One X in the HTC EVO 4G LTE. This year, however, another EVO handset is not currently in the offing, and Sprint is joining its fellow carriers in standardizing around a universal HTC One platform. The only notable customization is for Sprint's specific CDMA2000 band classes and LTE band. And that Sprint variant had its authorization documents uploaded to the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database earlier today.

 

If you have followed our series of articles on the EVO LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, then you know what is at hand. Here is an RF focused breakdown of the HTC One coming to Sprint:

  • CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE band class 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks)
  • LTE 5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
  • LTE UE category 3
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • 802.11n MCS index 7, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth
  • 802.11ac MCS index 9, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth
  • SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi tether
  • NFC
  • Antenna 0 max RF ERP/EIRP: 20.10 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.80 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 19.23 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 12.30 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • Antenna 1 max RF ERP/EIRP: 13.78 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 13.58 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 14.27 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 23.63 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
  • Simultaneous transmission modes: (see FCC OET diagram below)

2zxv4t0.png

 

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As for analysis of the specs, the HTC One is the world's first handset to include the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. But let us address right away another potential first that has become the so called elephant in the room. The Sprint version of the HTC One is limited to band 25 LTE 1900. It does not support either of Sprint's upcoming LTE bands -- band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600. One or both of those bands are expected to be incorporated in new handsets sometime this year, but the HTC One will not be the first.

 

The other notable absence is SVDO support for simultaneous CDMA1X voice + EV-DO data, though its omission is growing less and less notable as time goes on. SVDO requires separate RF paths for CDMA1X and EV-DO. The first few Sprint LTE handsets did support SVDO, utilizing separate paths for CDMA1X and EV-DO/LTE. But the last nine Sprint LTE handsets have foregone SVDO, combining CDMA1X/EV-DO on a single path, so SVDO was likely just a temporary measure or a fringe benefit of the Qualcomm MSM8960 chipset and will not be a common Sprint handset feature going forward.

 

In its press release earlier this week, Sprint calls its HTC One an "international" smartphone, and that could be interpreted to mean world roaming capabilities. The FCC authorization documents show no evidence of this, but they are not required to do so, since the FCC is a US authority. What is lacking, though, is any GSM 850/1900 or W-CDMA 850/1900. So, if the HTC One is world roaming capable, it will most likely be limited to GSM 900/1800 and band 1 W-CDMA 2100+1900.

 

Since the HTC One is really the de facto successor to the EVO LTE, a little bit of comparison would be in order. In our RF rundown article on the EVO LTE last spring, we stated that it "does not look to be a stellar RF performer" based on its low to moderate ERP/EIRP figures. And our prediction proved quite prescient, as the EVO LTE has not been noted for its performance with weak signals. The good news is that, on paper, the HTC One looks to be a notable improvement in this regard.

 

First, the dual antenna system is optimized for CDMA1X/EV-DO on antenna 0 and LTE on antenna 1. But as long as only one antenna is in use (i.e. SVLTE is not active), the dual antennas can be switched at will to combat an RF fade at one antenna but not the other. Second, LTE max EIRP has been increased by 4 dB over that of the EVO LTE. Furthermore, LTE EIRP has been maximized around the 1912.5 MHz center frequency, 5 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth configuration that Sprint is currently deploying nationwide in its PCS G block spectrum. In short, the Sprint variant of the HTC One has been tweaked specifically for the Sprint LTE network.

 

Source: FCC

MommaCiCi

Married to it

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by Christina Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 3:10 AM MST

 

Travel back with me a few weeks ago. It’s a cold Saturday afternoon, and I am standing and staring into a gated area near a cell phone tower. My date for this outing is frantically taking pictures and discussing the exciting upgrades to the equipment which have occurred since our last visit. I have no idea what he is talking about, all the mechanical stuff looks exactly like it did a few weeks ago. To me, it happens to look exactly like the 3 other sites we visited today. Not wanting to look totally stupid, I just smile and nod.

 

Yep, this is what I do for fun for my 17th wedding anniversary. I am officially married to a cell phone dork.

 

Since May 2011, I have had many a romantic dinner which usually includes at least a drive-by various cell towers. I have smiled and nodded through countless conversations which are dominated by the words, “LTE”, “Wi-Max” and “backhaul”. I still have no idea what any of this means.

 

I have taken vacations based on the availability of 4G coverage. This past summer our family ended up in Waco, Texas. Not exactly the place one would call a cosmopolitan vacation destination. At least we got to go to the Baylor football season opener. We ran tests in between plays, and my husband would constantly grab my phone to look at an Engineering screen. I have changed hotel and restaurant reservations based on cell tower locations.

 

My kids can spot a cell tower from 5 miles away. Family outings generally include a visit to one. My oldest son understands which panel is which on the cell tower. He also understands the secret language of cell phone technology which my husband speaks. I just continue to smile and nod.

 

Many friends ask me in wonder why I allow my date nights to be interrupted by visits to cell phone towers and discussions about things I don’t understand. The answer is simple; I have the best husband in the world. S4GRU is my husband’s passion. He loves all things Sprint, cell phone, and the technology that goes with it. He is passionate about the site and getting the information to its members. He gives unselfishly to it while still honoring all his work, home and community obligations. When he isn’t working on this site; he is being an awesome dad, devoted husband, faithful employee and a good citizen. The only sacrifice I make is that I occasionally have to smile and nod, so I don’t look like I have no idea what is going on. He sacrifices his sleep, his free time and sometimes his sanity to make sure we are all happy. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

 

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day of romance. I am looking forward to a romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant and maybe a box of Godiva chocolate. There are two things I am pretty sure of. There will be at least one stop at a cell tower during the night, and I will probably be doing a lot of smiling and nodding.

 

 

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S4GRU
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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 1:13 AM MST

 

Often you may see us refer to a GMO site around S4GRU. But, what is a GMO site? GMO stands for Ground Mount Option. Or sometimes, it will be referred to as a GMR (Ground Mount RRU) site. In this article we will explain many points about the Ground Mount Option.

 

In the most basic explanation, a Ground Mount site is one where they are doing a partial Network Vision conversion instead of a full build conversion. A full build site is one where they upgrade all the hardware at a site, including the base station equipment (RBS/MBS), install new multi-mode antenna panels on the tower, add Remote Radio Units (RRU’s, sometimes also called RRH’s), and run new fiber optic lines from the base station equipment up to the RRU’s on the tower. These are the ones most people who follow along Network Vision deployment are familiar with.

 

However, a GMO site will install new base station equipment, with the RRU’s mounted down at the Ground Level, near the new base station cabinets. Then the existing lines running up the tower and the existing panels are reused. These are not to be confused with full build sites with Ground Mounted RRU’s. Those are not Ground Mount Option sites, because they still offer full Network Vision panels, and complete 800MHz and LTE services (where possible). They just are required to mount the RRU’s away from the panels for logistical reasons.

 

How did Sprint determine which sites were to receive the Ground Mount Option instead of a full Network Vision rebuild?

 

I have had the privilege of talking with several Sprint and OEM employees about the Ground Mount Option the past few weeks. Every one of the 38,000+ Sprint sites in the country had a site survey visit in 2011 to establish logistics and planning for the Network Vision upgrade. Each site is broken down to three priorities, largely based on the traffic and carrier count. See the priorities below:

:

  • High Priority...site gets full Network Vision upgrade. If site cannot support RRU's and new panels, engineering is done and structure modifications will be made and the site is fully upgraded.
  • Moderate Priority...site gets full Network Vision upgrade. If the site requires minor modifications to support RRU's and NV panels, then it gets fully upgraded. If it requires major attention with full engineering, then a ground mount solution is implemented.
  • Low Priority...low priority sites only get a full NV upgrade with new NV panels and tower mounted RRU's if no structural modification is necessary. If anything is required at a low priority site, the Ground Mount Option is deployed. Also, some low capacity/low priority sites get GMO installs, no matter if the site can support a full install now.

At the site survey time back in 2011, each survey team made a judgment call based on their review of the site whether to go full build or GMO, taking into account the priority. And there are anomalies that just do not make any sense. Some markets have no GMO sites at all. And some markets have all GMO sites, like Western Pennsylvania. Also, some site owners will not allow NV full build for various reasons. In these instances, a Ground Mount Option was selected.

 

What are the advantages of a Ground Mount site?

 

The biggest advantage of a GMO site is these sites are being worked on now and getting Network Vision benefits in the middle of the NV program, instead of at the end of the build out. Many 3rd Round Markets have started earlier because of GMO conversions. 1st and 2nd round markets have mostly full build sites with only a few GMO’s, or none at all. This allows some love for customers that would have been pushed off to the very end of Network Vision to see some improvements now.

 

GMO sites are much faster to deploy with no tower work required. Most GMO sites will require minimal permitting from local authorities, or often no permitting at all. Also, GMO's require less negotiation with the site owner, as it does not materially change the site. GMO site conversions are already under way all around the country, and all of them should be completed before the end of this Summer. There are already 100’s of them with 3G upgrades in place.

 

Ground Mount Option sites also will bring LTE much sooner at many locations. Because LTE 1900 can be run on most GMO sites if the appropriate backhaul is available and Sprint has the OEM install the appropriate number of RRU’s or RRU type. The first LTE capable GMO’s are coming online now. Alcatel Lucent has two live, one in New Bern, North Carolina and another one in the Shentel market in South Central Pennsylvania. Samsung has one live in Dayton, Minnesota. This is just the beginning.

 

What are the cons of a Ground Mount Option site?

 

There are a few. The first con with the Ground Mount Option, is there will not be any 800MHz service deployed. Sprint is in the process of adding CDMA 800 voice service to full build Network Vision sites. Sprint will also begin deploying LTE 800 service to full build NV sites before the end of 2013. However, GMO sites cannot support 800MHz service, as the existing tower mounted panels do not support 800MHz. In some rural areas, this is a big disappointment as customers have been waiting for 800 MHz signal propagation benefits in the boonies (like me).

 

The second issue, is the availability of LTE. All full build sites get LTE, but some GMO sites will not be getting LTE deployments. Most GMO sites can support LTE through existing panels, so long as there are not too many CDMA carriers installed. However, some higher capacity GMO sites will not get LTE. Also, some of the most backhaul challenged sites in the Sprint network are GMO sites. They will not get LTE initially because Sprint is unable to get sufficient backhaul to the site to support LTE performance requirements, or in some instances Sprint does not want to go through the difficulty of equipping some sites that are a low priority.

 

The last negative detriment of a GMO site is signal propagation benefits of panel mounted RRU’s. A Network Vision full build site with panel mounted RRU’s can achieve up to a 20% signal gain at 1900MHz. However, the full 20% is only realized at very tall boomer sites with little downtilt. Most sites get more like a 5% signal increase. And these GMO’s will not get that extra signal benefit.

 

Are Ground Mount Options this way forever?

 

Furthermore, at sites where the GMO is implemented, supposedly they will come back at the end of NV and do the engineering and structural modifications. At that time 800 service will be added when the new panels are installed, as well as LTE to sites that can secure appropriate backhaul.

 

I have heard that in some instances (maybe a few hundred), they are using GMO's where they could not come to an agreement with the site owner. Whether financial agreement or logistical/structural. In those instances, Sprint is identifying other adjacent sites that they may move the site to at the end of NV. If no other options can be achieved, it may permanently stay a GMO and never have NV panels and 800 service.

 

My understanding has grown tenfold in the past 2 weeks between talking to the Ericsson tech that's been on site and a long conversation I had with an OEM deployment manager. The most recent conversation I had, the source said they recently heard that more funding is being identified that could go ahead and do more work with GMO sites. Which may include converting them to full builds earlier, or at least changing out legacy panels to NV panels to add support for 800MHz.

 

Differences between vendors

 

Not all GMO sites are the same. Sprint is using three different vendors to deploy Network Vision. Ericsson, Samsung and Alcatel Lucent. Each of these three OEM’s have their own proprietary equipment. Different base station equipment and different RRU’s.

 

Samsung has two types of RRU’s. 800MHz and 1900 MHz RRU’s. Each of the two Samsung RRU types can do both CDMA and LTE from the same unit, supporting up to four carriers each. At a Samsung GMO site, only one RRU is needed per sector, as the RRU can do LTE and CDMA on the same unit.

 

However, Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent do not have it so easy. These two OEM’s cannot run CDMA and LTE on the same RRU. They need a separate RRU for CDMA and LTE on each sector. This is more work and more cost.

 

S4GRU has been told that Ericsson is finalizing a new RRU that can handle CDMA and LTE on the same unit, but they are not in production yet. These are referred to around the forums as RRUS12. Many Ericsson GMO sites have been spotted with only a single RRU per sector. Unfortunately, these have all been RRUS11 units, which cannot support CDMA and LTE together, only in separate RRU’s. Hopefully many of these will get a second RRU still to support LTE, or maybe be switched out with an RRUS12 unit when they start to hit the streets.

 

In closing

 

Some of our members have been quite disappointed to learn that their site was selected for a Ground Mount Option. And I have to admit, I too initially was disappointed myself. Especially since my site is one of the GMO’s that will not receive LTE. At least, at first. :fingers:

 

The thing that we have to keep in mind is these are sites that are either very low priority or very difficult to upgrade. These were always going to be the very last sites to be touched at all, if at all. The majority of GMO sites probably wouldn’t have started until Spring/Summer 2014.

 

For these sites to receive partial upgrades now is a very good thing. Many of us want everything, and we want it yesterday too. This is not practical though. All things considered, the Ground Mount Option is an elegant solution to the problem. Sprint just needs to push the envelope and install LTE on every one where it is physically possible.

 

Oh and Dan, please add LTE to my GMO site (EP03AL506). It just will take two more RRUS11 units, or possibly a prototype RRUS12 unit. Just imagine the good S4GRU publicity you’d get. I will even arrange the backhaul for you! ;)

 

 

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Ericsson GMO site photo. New Ericsson NV base cabinets in the back and ground mount RRU's on the left. Three CDMA RRU's present here, one for each sector. No LTE at this site initially.

 

 

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Samsung GMO site photo. New Samsung NV base cabinets at the left and ground mount RRU's directly in front. Three RRU's present here, one for each sector. Samsung GMO sites can run CDMA and LTE if set up that way.

 

 

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Alcatel Lucent GMO site photo. New AlcaLu NV base cabinets on the right and ground mount RRU's on the center. Six CDMA RRU's present here, two for each sector (one behind each also). AlcaLu GMO LTE sites will require two RRU's per sector.

S4GRU
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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:33 AM MST

 

Today we feature text from internal correspondence that was distributed to Sprint employees regarding the state of the Network Vision deployment and addresses key points that employees often encounter with the public. It is from a Q&A session with Chad Elliott, Sprint's Director of Strategic Technology Programs.

 

Although there aren't really points in the memo that will be surprises for S4GRU Members who follow deployment closely, it is helpful to get some sort of official documentation from Sprint that we can now point to explain what is going on. It is a good and concise reference of many key challenges that have impacted Network Vision, with some vague outlook for 2013.

 

Some things discussed in the memo include that production is ramping up and with more launches more frequently, why smaller towns/cities seem to be being upgraded first, issues going on that are slowing down deployment in some areas, etc. Take a look at the memo below:

 

With 2012 now in the rear view mirror, we think it is important to understand how Network Vision deployment is going and the excitement that's ahead in 2013. We caught up with Chad Elliott, director-Strategic Technology Programs, whose team works across business units to launch Network Vision. Here is what Chad had to say about the deployment thus far and what we have to look forward to in 2013.

 

Explain your role in Network Vision?

 

As it relates to Network Vision, our team is basically the liaison between the network functions and the rest of the business. Bob Azzi’s team is doing the heavy lifting related to development and execution, and our team then partners with other areas of the company to get things launched and make sure Sprint is ready to support and care for all of the Network Vision initiatives that we are rolling out. That includes LTE systems, Sprint Direct Connect and the actual market launches.

 

Last year was about getting builds under way for Network Vision, how do you think 2013 looks?

 

I'm really excited about 2013. We continue to see great progress. Each quarter has gotten better and while it is never easy, repeating the same activities allows you to gain some momentum. As we were finishing up 2012, we were having some of the best weeks we have seen so far, and we expect to continue that pace in January. If you look back, we've been launching five to 10 LTE markets each month since July 2012, and what gets me excited is looking at the rest of 2013 - we expect to be able to launch a lot more markets per month and really see the trend ramp up as we go through the year.

 

So far, we have launched 49 markets with LTE and announced nearly 150 markets where LTE is coming soon. We have well over 200 markets where we already have one or more sites on air for 3G enhancements and/or LTE. So we have a lot of work going on that will allow us to ramp up our progress in 2013.

 

It feels to some of us, especially as we are talking to friends, family and other customers, that the rollout of 3G enhancements and 4G LTE has been somewhat slow. From your perspective, what do you think about this? What are some of the issues that may hold up deployment in some areas?

 

Bottom line is that the rollout of Network Vision is not easy; it is a very complex rollout. We have tens of thousands of towers that we need to modify and each one has its own unique characteristics. Whether it is the landlord, the zoning that is required, a particular municipality and their rules, or working with the different backhaul providers, there are many different complexities that may impact the deployment process at an individual site. Kay Usry’s and John Harrison’s teams actually have a war room to understand these issues with the goal being to not let the same issue hold you up in multiple locations. So, they try to group issues and address them as we move forward.

 

One example at a site is that the local municipality would not allow the crew to finish repainting a water tower because it was too humid. In cases like this, Sprint doesn’t have control over that, so the crew just had to wait until they got the go ahead to continue. That particular crew was able to go work on another site, but they still had to stop at some point and go back to repaint the water tower. There have also been situations where there was miscommunication within the landlord’s company and the person on site wouldn’t give us access or they forgot to clear the parking lot to make room for a crane we arranged to be at the site.

 

Moreover, Network Vision isn’t just about cell sites. We're also upgrading every switch and turning up fiber ethernet across the country. Some of our competitors upgraded their switches and their backhaul to Ethernet fiber before they began cell site upgrades. They didn’t do everything all at once like we are.

 

So as you can tell, the complexities that can arise in a comprehensive national network rollout like Network Vision tend to be a little bit of everything – crews, equipment, uniqueness of the location, finicky landlords, weather and yes, even the birds you have heard us talk about before. Getting more crews in more places can obviously help which is what John Harrison’s team is doing. The war room I mentioned is also helpful because they work to prevent the same issue from bubbling up and impacting a lot of sites.

 

I feel good about the pipeline of sites that are under construction or where work can begin. The high level lifecycle is leasing, zoning and permits, and notice to proceed (NTP). Once we have an NTP, that site is ready for us to start work on. We have built a good pipeline so that if we run into an issue at one site, that crew can move to another site in that market.

 

Can you explain why we are often able to launch LTE in smaller cities before we're able to announce larger markets?

 

Sure. First, let me explain why we came up with our Network Vision market structure because internally most people are probably used to Sprint’s 99 geographic areas that we use to group customers or network locations. This 99 market structure works well internally but it doesn’t translate very well when we are trying to communicate to customers. A good example is when we say the Kansas market - internally everyone knows this is a unique geographic area that covers only a fraction of the state of Kansas and also includes a significant portion of Missouri. But externally, if we said we are launching Kansas, most people probably think it is the actual state as you see it on a map. So we had to come up with a way to talk about where our network is externally. At the same time, our competitors were starting to use market counts in their advertising. If we stuck with only our 99 markets, we’d be at an unnecessary disadvantage.

 

Ultimately, we came up with using a Census Bureau methodology of micropolitan statistical areas and metropolitan statistical areas to define markets in a way that customers can understand. Most people are familiar with the term metropolitan and for micropolitan area, the best definition I have seen was when it was the Time magazine word of the week, and they defined it as a small but regionally important population center. This approach aligns with what our competitors are doing and will allow us to announce hundreds of markets versus just the 99.

 

Now back to your question about market launches. We launch a market when we have a reasonable coverage footprint that will allow many users to experience LTE in the market. And while we started building in the large markets like Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago early in the process, it takes more sites in those cities before we can launch than in a smaller micropolitan area. For instance, having 50 sites up in New York City is not the same from a footprint standpoint as having 50 sites up in Wichita, Kan. Thus we are able to launch some smaller markets much sooner. But we are building all over the country, so the good news for customers in larger metropolitan areas is, if they have an LTE-capable device and are within coverage of a site we have completed, that they can often experience LTE even before we officially launch in their market.

 

Using your example above, if we were to stop work in Wichita could we launch New York City sooner?

 

As I mentioned, we started building with the larger markets, so it is not that we started them late and are trying to catch up. It just takes more sites to have the footprint to launch the larger markets. So what you’re essentially asking is if we have access to crews in Wichita that would be willing to travel to New York City. Probably not. Across all the markets, we work with different vendors and different crews and subcontractors, so it’s not as easy as just moving a crew to another location. In addition, not every person is licensed or has the expertise to work on every single type of site.

 

In general, are we pleased with the performance we are seeing at Network Vision sites both on the 3G and 4G side?

 

Overall the calls to Care related to our LTE launches have been minimal. To me that is a good indication that when they have the device and get LTE coverage, the customers are having a positive experience. Considering LTE is brand new, it has gone smoother than expected.

 

With LTE, you can turn up a site by someone’s house and they can take advantage of that right away. On the 3G enhancements, it takes a larger group of sites being turned up before you really see the full advantages of the optimization, so it can take a little bit longer to experience the benefits. Take the Chicago area for example; if you go back and look at the initial areas where we started 3G enhancements, the network operation metrics have really improved in that area. In Nov. 2012, the block rate for voice calls in Chicago was at the lowest rate in the past three years. So even while the 3G enhancements in the market aren’t complete yet, we are seeing the benefits of the program; it just took a little longer to get there.

 

What is the biggest challenge for you in your role?

 

Probably the biggest thing is being patient. I sometimes have a hard time with that and always want to go faster and get more done. But, I recognize Network Vision is challenging and complex and thus takes time and patience.

 

What is the most gratifying thing for you in your role?

 

Probably the teamwork. We have a broad core team including sales, marketing, corporate communications and customer care. Everyone is really motivated to make Network Vision a success, and if we have issues pop up, everybody is willing to jump in and do what they can to help. It has made it really easy and rewarding to work with everyone because it is such a motivated team.

S4GRU

What is a PRL?

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by Travis Griggs

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 10:00 AM MST

 

A PRL file is a Preferred Roaming List. In simple terms, it tells the device how to scan for various wireless cell systems, which ones are native, and which priority to use them in. If there isn't a native Sprint signal available, the PRL defines which roaming partners to scan for, which ones should be used, and in what order of preference to scan for them in. Contrary to belief and what some Sprint reps may tell say, a PRL is not a list of cell sites. You do not need a new PRL update to receive service from a new cell site. Nor will a PRL update result in faster Sprint EVDO (3G) speeds either.

 

Of course there are a few exceptions to these rules with roaming agreements and/or Network Vision in the picture, but we will explain that later. PRL updates have nothing do with 4G WiMax coverage either. On some 4G LTE chipsets such as Qualcomm, the PRL determines if LTE is enabled for the geographic region you are in.

 

So how does a PRL really work?

 

Before I can start to explain the inner workings of a PRL, there are few terms for reference:

 

A PRL is broken down into a three tier system:

  • GEO - Geographic areas (regions), they are commonly referred to as a GEO.
  • SID - System IDs assigned to the various carriers.
  • NID - Network IDs are assigned by carriers to break a SID up.

Common wireless bands found in US CDMA PRLs:

  • PCS Band - 1900mhz PCS band in the US (A block, B block, etc) - Band Class 1 or 25
  • Cellular band - 850mhz cellular band in the US (A and B side) - Band Class 0
  • SMR band - 800mhz band used previously by Nextel. CDMA 1xA is in active deployment - Band Class 10

Other terms:

  • Channel – assigned frequency within a band (200, 476, 350, etc)
  • Negative (Neg) Network – SID/NID is prohibited (only 911 calls allowed)
  • Preferred (Pref) Network – SID/NID is allowed for acquisition and usage
  • Preferred Only PRL - only the SIDs specified in the PRL are allowed for acquisition

When a device is powered up for the very first time, the phone will start at the top of the PRL and start searching through the list of SIDs for a native Sprint signal. This usually happens very quickly. Once your phone acquires a SID in your GEO, the devices will stay within the GEO for any additional searching for SIDs before it goes out looking in other GEOs again. This gives your phone a quicker response time of finding another SID when it needs to. If you have ever noticed it takes a little longer to find a signal when the flight attendant states you may now use your wireless devices, this is your phone searching the last known GEO, the devices then gives up and starts searching the other GEOs until it finds one to acquire.

 

The SID/NID records within the GEO have their various priorities and channel/band scans assigned to them. A SID is the regional number assigned to wireless system. A NID is used by a cellular carrier to break up a large SID into smaller pieces for further localizing scans/rules. For instance a SID that has two large metro areas could have a NID of 51 for one area and 52 for the other area. The record would be listed as 4159/51 and 4159/52.

 

If Sprint needs to apply different rules and/or acquisition channels to either NID it will put a record for each one. If no local rules are needed, the NID is listed as 65535 to encompass all NIDs within the one SID. In the PRL analysis reports, any NID of 65535 is suppressed as it is not needed. It may sound confusing at times but it is a simple three tiered system; GEO area, SID, then NID.

 

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In the PRL example above there are 5 SIDs assigned to Geo #4. The first two have a roaming indicator of 0, meaning a native Sprint signal. 22411 and 4159 have a priority of 1. These two SIDs do not necessarily have a preference in which either is used since they are the same priority but the device will scan for 22411 first. If 4159 is acquired, the device will not actively seek another network to use. During various sleep periods and/or timers the device could scan/acquire 22411 though. Once the device finds itself without a usable signal from 4159 or 22411, the scan will proceed into the next priority group.

 

The next priority group of 2 has SID 4279 and a roaming indicator presented to the user. The device will acquire 4279 and notify the network carrier of its presence. The device will actively and aggressively continue to search for a non-roaming signal. Due to this continued scanning this may cause the radio chipset to not enter into the power saving sleep modes causing increased battery usage. As long as SID 4279 is available, the device will not search for SID 4160 with the priority of 3. 85 is a NEG network meaning your phone is not allowed to use this network for any reason other than 911 calls.

 

What happens when Sprint installs a new cell site?

 

I will say it again and again. You do not need a PRL update to use a new cell site, you do not need a PRL update to use a new cell site. Many Sprint reps will swear up and down that a PRL update is required to use new cell sites. This is incorrect! Many Airaves are activated and deactivated everyday but yet we don't see new PRL updates for these everyday. Using the example above, the phone is attached to Sprint 4159/51 using the same cell sites that were active on the previous day. Today the Sprint crews activated a new cell site to extend coverage a few more miles down the highway. Sprint will configure this cell site with the same licensed channels for the area and also configure it as a 4159/51 site. The devices in this area will use this new site without ever needing any type of PRL update.

 

I've only scratched the surface of the various inner workings of the PRL file. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article. The next article will take a more in-depth look on EVDO records, MCC/MNC records for LTE, 800mhz SMR for Network Vision, and much more.

S4GRU
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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 10:20 AM MST

 

In the latest news from Sprint, they have added another 36 additional communities that they anticipate having at least a prelaunch amount of service available to use by its LTE customers in the "coming months." We were not able to confirm any dates for these cities with any of our sources this morning, but I would imagine there will be a usable amount of service in these areas by the end of March. Most of these markets will not be a surprise to S4GRU members, with the exception of the Louisiana market. As this is a new market that we have never announced.

 

In this announcement, Sprint did not identify that these communities will be in a prelaunch stage. However, this will be the case. We here at S4GRU appreciate that Sprint is opening up LTE sites to be used as soon as they are complete. Even though it creates a patchy and non cohesive LTE network over cities that they have prelaunch service, I for one, enjoy being able to use LTE when and where it is available.

 

Most markets will take a long time from prelaunch phase until they have ubiquitous coverage over the whole area. A few months to a year, depending on the market size and deployment rate. See the city list below and their corresponding markets:

  • Abbeville, LA (Louisiana market)
  • Beaumont/Port Arthur, TX (Louisiana market)
  • Blytheville, AR (Arkansas market)
  • Brainerd, MN (Minnesota market)
  • Bridgeport/Stamford/Norwalk, CT (Southern Connecticut market)
  • Brownsville/Harlingen, TX (South Texas market)
  • Crowley, LA (Louisiana market)
  • Dalton, GA (Nashville market)
  • Duluth, MN (Minnesota market)
  • Dunn, NC (Raleigh/Durham market)
  • Durham/Chapel Hill, NC (Raleigh/Durham market)
  • Eau Claire, WI (Minnesota market)
  • Greenwood, SC (South Carolina market)
  • La Crosse, WI (Minnesota market)
  • Jackson, TN (Memphis market)
  • Lafayette, LA (Louisiana market)
  • Lawton, OK (Oklahoma market)
  • Little Rock/North Little Rock/Conway, AR (Arkansas market)
  • Mankato/North Mankato, MN (Minnesota market)
  • Muskogee, OK (Oklahoma market)
  • New Haven/Milford, CT (Southern Connecticut market)
  • New Iberia, LA (Louisiana market)
  • North Wilkesboro, NC (Charlotte market)
  • Oklahoma City, OK (Oklahoma market)
  • Palm Coast, FL (Orlando market)
  • Pine Bluff, AR (Arkansas market)
  • Ponca City, OK (Oklahoma market)
  • Raleigh/Cary, NC (Raleigh/Durham market)
  • San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, CA (South Bay market)
  • Salinas, CA (South Bay market)
  • Santa Cruz/Watsonville, CA (South Bay market)
  • Searcy, AR (Arkansas market)
  • Springfield, MA (Boston market)
  • St. Cloud, MN (Minnesota market)
  • Stillwater, OK (Oklahoma market)

 

EDIT: There seems to be a lot of confusion out there, especially among Facebook readers, that cities have been removed from Sprint's LTE deployment list. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! The list above are "additional" cities being added to the list. Sprint has now announced approximately 150 cities total where work is under way. No cities have been removed. In fact, Sprint will start work in every market in 2013. Sprint is deploying LTE nationwide as a part of its Network Vision upgrades.

 

Sprint Reports Significant Progress in Deployment of Network Upgrades in 2012: 49 Markets Covered To Date With 4G LTE; 3G Network Upgrades Proceed Nationwide

 

 

 

 

Customers enjoy blazing speeds of Sprint 4G LTE; in the coming months, nearly 150 more markets, including 36 announced today, will enjoy 4G LTE

Customers in more than 70 markets coast-to-coast are beginning to enjoy the improved coverage, call quality and data speeds of improved 3G

 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), December 19, 2012 - This year Sprint (NYSE: S) has made a significant investment in its wireless network to better meet the needs of its wireless customers. From the rollout of 4G LTE to the upgrade of thousands of 3G sites across the country to thousands of voice and data capacity additions, Sprint has focused resources and funds to improve its overall network quality and performance. Sprint has hit a deployment stride and is making measurable progress on its goal to bring Network Vision to customers nationwide.

 

Sprint has launched 4G LTE in 49 markets – including Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Baltimore – and sites are on-air and implementation is under way in hundreds more. In fact, Sprint has announced nearly 150 markets that should see an official LTE launch in the coming months, including 36 markets that have been added today.* Sprint also has implemented 3G service improvements in more than 70 markets, from Asheville, N.C., to Philadelphia and from Hudson, N.Y., to Santa Barbara, Calif.

 

Through Network Vision, voice quality is enhanced and Sprint customers in upgraded areas are seeing better performance on their smartphones, mobile broadband connection cards and mobile hotspots when using the Sprint 4G LTE and 3G networks. Customers can expect to experience the following performance improvements:

  • Faster data speeds that enable instant Web access for news updates, HD viewing and game-playing, quicker video downloads and clear video chats.
  • Better signal strength when making a call or using the Web.
  • Fewer dropped calls for peace of mind when talking to friends, family or colleagues.
  • Improved voice quality and less static or background noise when making phone calls.

“With the network investments we made in 2012 and as the only national wireless carrier to offer truly unlimited 4G LTE data plans, we continue to offer better value than our competitors,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president-Network, Sprint. “But our commitment to an exceptional wireless experience doesn’t stop there. We are an aggressive path to complete the rollout of Network Vision, and we expect to accelerate this momentum in 2013.”

 

Sprint introduced its all-new 4G LTE network in July 2012 and now offers service in 49 marketsi. For the most up-to-date details on Sprint’s 4G LTE portfolio and rollout, please visit www.sprint.com/4GLTE. For detailed 4G LTE maps, providing coverage information right down to the address, please visitwww.sprint.com/coverage. Customers are encouraged to check back often, as the maps will be updated when coverage in these markets is enhanced.

 

*Markets slated to receive LTE in the coming months are:

 

Abbeville, La. Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas Blytheville, Ark. Brainerd, Minn. Bridgeport/Stamford/Norwalk, Conn. Brownsville/Harlingen, Texas Crowley, La. Dalton, Ga. Duluth, Minn. Dunn, N.C. Durham/Chapel Hill, N.C. Eau Claire, Wisc. Greenwood, S.C. Jackson, Tenn. La Crosse, Wisc. Lafayette, La. Lawton, Okla. Little Rock/North Little Rock/Conway, Ark. Mankato/North Mankato, Minn. Muskogee, Okla. New Haven/Milford, Conn. New Iberia, La. North Wilkesboro, N.C. Oklahoma City Palm Coast, Fla. Pine Bluff, Ark. Ponca City, Okla. Raleigh/Cary, N.C. Rochester, Minn. Salinas, Calif. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif. Santa Cruz/Watsonville, Calif. Springfield, Mass. Searcy, Ark. St. Cloud, Minn. Stillwater, Okla.

S4GRU
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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 12:55 PM MST

 

The Regional Affiliate Shentel that provides Sprint service from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley up into Central Pennsylvania is preparing to launch Network Vision improvements and LTE service in a significant portion of its coverage area on Black Friday. Many sites have quietly gone online over the past few months in these areas. However, a source close to the Shentel deployment has now provided S4GRU a list of all 125 sites that are planned to be a part of this formal launch the day after Thanksgiving.

 

In total, there are 56 cities that will receive service in Northwestern Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Western Maryland and South Central Pennsylvania. Alcatel Lucent is the Network Vision OEM for Shentel and has been active in the market since June. Cities that will have launchable service by the end of this week include Harrisburg PA, York PA, Hagerstown MD, Martinsburg WV, Winchester VA and Harrisonburg VA and many smaller Shentel communities. There is a complete list below.

 

Although this is a good chunk of Shentel territory that will be enjoying upgraded 3G and high speed LTE coverage, deployment is far from over. This launch only includes approximately 20% of the entire Shentel network. Alcatel Lucent and Shentel will continue with deployment over the next year bringing upgrades to all of Shentel-land. Many of launched areas will receive even more sites converted (for denser coverage and better performance) and the remaining Shentel communities will receive upgrades.

 

Sprint customers with LTE devices can use Shentel's LTE service in the same manner they do in their home markets.

  • Basye, VA (1)
  • Bergton, WV (1)
  • Berryville, VA (2)
  • Bluemont, VA (1)
  • Boonsboro, MD (3)
  • Bridgewater, VA (1)
  • Broadway, VA (1)
  • Bunker Hill, WV (1)
  • Carlisle, PA (1)
  • Chambersburg, PA (3)
  • Clear Spring, MD (1)
  • Clearbrook, VA (1)
  • Edinburg, VA (4)
  • Elkton, VA (2)
  • Enola, PA (2)
  • Fort Valley, VA (1)
  • Front Royal, VA (2)
  • Fulks Run, VA (1)
  • Funkstown, MD (1)
  • Gerrardstown, WV (1)
  • Gettysburg, PA (1)
  • Greencastle, PA (2)
  • Hagerstown, MD (5)
  • Hanover, PA (2)
  • Harrisburg, PA (11)
  • Harrisonburg, VA (9)
  • Hershey, PA (1)
  • Inwood, WV (2)
  • Linville, VA (1)
  • Littlestown, PA (1)
  • Martinsburg, WV (6)
  • McGaheysville, VA (2)
  • McSherrystown, PA (1)
  • Mechanicsburg, PA (2)
  • Middletown, PA (1)
  • Middletown, VA (1)
  • Mt. Jackson, VA (3)
  • New Cumberland, PA (1)
  • New Market, VA (2)
  • Penn Laird, VA (1)
  • Port Republic, VA (1)
  • Quicksburg, VA (1)
  • Sharpsburg, MD (1)
  • Shepherdstown, WV (2)
  • Shippensburg, PA (1)
  • Smithsburg, MD (1)
  • Star Tannery, VA (2)
  • Stephens City, VA (2)
  • Strasburg, VA (3)
  • Summerdale, PA (1)
  • Timberville, PA (1)
  • Waynesboro, PA (1)
  • Williamsport, MD (2)
  • Winchester, VA (9)
  • Woodstock, VA (3)
  • York, PA (8)

There is an interactive map with these communities shown in the S4GRU forums, at this link: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/2672-shentel-network-visionlte-launch-black-friday-2012/

S4GRU
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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, November 12, 2012 - 12:39 AM MDT

 

In the latest news from Sprint, they have added another nine additional communities that they anticipate having at least a prelaunch amount of service available to use by its LTE customers in the next few months. Based on a source, these are expected to have usable service by the end of January, barring any unforseen conditions.

 

What's exciting in this list, is it includes not only areas where Sprint is already working (like Oakland/East Bay, Michigan City/LaPorte, Bloomington and Key West), but it also includes some starts in new markets like Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arkansas and South Texas. We have already had S4GRU members seeing activity in the Minnesota market recently. S4GRU has announcedg that work would begin in the Oklahoma market this Winter several months ago. However, the work in Arkansas and South Texas markets represent a move up in the schedule. This is welcome news.

 

It is no accident that Sprint outlines that the LTE signals that are discovered in these areas are "prelaunch." Sprint is trying to set expectations that these are advance LTE signals that will be usable to customers. It's great that Sprint will allow these sites to be usable pretty quickly after they are complete. But as we have seen around our forums and our social media pages, there is a pretty vocal part of their customer base who expects to have wall to wall coverage immediately upon receiving their first LTE signal. It is important that these people understand that they are getting to use their LTE sites really early, before the whole network is ready. And this is a good thing.

 

Most markets will take a long time from prelaunch phase until they have ubiquitous coverage over the whole area. A few months to a year, depending on the market. See the city list below and their corresponding markets:

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (Minnesota market)
  • Fort Smith, AR (Arkansas market)
  • Ardmore, OK (Oklahoma market)
  • Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, CA (SF Bay market)
  • Michigan City/La Porte, IN (Chicago market)
  • McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, TX (South Texas market)
  • Key West, FL (Miami/West Palm market)
  • Bloomington, IN (Indianapolis market)
  • Eau Claire, WI (Minnesota market)

 

 

Sprint Nextel Corporation has posted the following release to its Newsroom website:

 

Sprint Adding 4G LTE to Nine Additional Cities in Coming Months

 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), November 13, 2012 - Continuing its aggressive push to deliver an enhanced top-tier network experience for customers, Sprint (NYSE:S) announced today that its 4G LTE network build is progressing in nine additional cities within its nationwide 3G footprint.

 

Work has begun on the 4G LTE Network in the following additional areas:

 

- Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

- Fort Smith, Ark.

- Ardmore, Okla.

- Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, Calif.

- Michigan City/La Porte, Ind.

- McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas

- Key West, Fla.

- Bloomington, Ind.

- Eau Claire, Wis.

 

“We’re committed to providing improved 3G and 4G LTE as quickly as possible, and keeping our customers informed as to when and where they can experience the new network’s superior performance and speed,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president-Network, Sprint. “Our customers depend on their mobile devices as their primary source of communication, business connectivity and entertainment. We’re delivering all of that functionality at a very competitive price.”

 

During the pre-launch phase, Sprint customers with capable devices may begin to see 4G LTE coverage in these areas and are welcome to use the network even before it officially launches. Sprint plans to announce commercial availability of 4G LTE in these cities in the coming months, followed by continued enhancements in coverage, performance and reliability. Ultimately, Sprint’s 4G LTE coverage is expected to largely match the existing nationwide 3G footprint.

 

Sprint has announced more than 125 cities where Sprint 4G LTE is on its way, including Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. To find out more about which markets currently have Sprint 4G LTE and which markets are coming next, please visit www.sprint.com/4GLTE.

 

Sprint introduced its all-new 4G LTE network in July 2012 and currently offers service in 32 cities1. As part of its overall network strategy, Sprint is also doing a complete overhaul of its 3G infrastructure so that customers can enjoy better wireless signal strength, in-building coverage, and fewer dropped/blocked calls. These enhancements are now available to customers in several markets across the country, with significant deployment in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., and will continue to improve in the weeks and months ahead.

 

With these enhancements to Sprint’s 3G network, the company’s prepaid customers, on Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, will also benefit and can expect to see better coverage, improved network reliability and voice quality resulting in up to 20 to 30 percent fewer dropped and blocked calls.

 

Unlimited + Sprint 4G LTE = Game-changing wireless offer for customers

 

In today’s competitive wireless market, the value of unlimited has never been more apparent and Sprint is clearly a leading choice in wireless. Customers with capable devices can combine Sprint’s all-new 3G and 4G LTE networks and enjoy unlimited data while on the Sprint network. Data usage continues to increase and consumers value Truly Unlimited data because it’s simple and straightforward – while on the Sprint network there is no metering, no throttling, and no need to share data, which increases the likelihood of a surprise monthly bill because of overage charges.

 

Coupled with unbeatable plans and fast devices, Sprint has been working hard to deliver the best customer experience in the past few years. The 2012 American Customer Satisfaction Index ranked Sprint No. 1 among all national carriers in customer satisfaction and most improved, across all 47 industries measured, over the last four years. And Sprint has been ranked Highest in Satisfaction with the Purchase Experience among Full-service Wireless Providers three times in a row by J.D. Power and Associates.

 

About Sprint Nextel

 

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served nearly 56 million customers at the end of the third quarter of 2012 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint No. 1 among all national carriers in customer satisfaction and most improved, across all 47 industries, during the last four years. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in both its 2011 and 2012 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company.

 

1 Atlanta, Ga.; Athens, Ga.; Baltimore, Md.; Barnstable-Hyannis/Mid-Cape, Mass.; Calhoun, Ga.; Carrollton, Ga.; Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill.; Gainesville, Ga.; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Gary, Ind.; Granbury-Hood County, Texas; Houston; Huntsville, Texas; Hutchinson, Kan.; Lawrence, Kan.; Kankakee/Bradley/Bourbonnais, Ill.; Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.; McPherson, Kan.; Manhattan/Junction City, Kan.; New Bedford/Fall River, Mass.; Newnan, Ga.; Rockford, Ill.; Rome, Ga.; San Antonio, Texas; Sedalia, Mo.; St. Joseph, Mo.-Kan.; Topeka, Kan.; Waco, Texas; Waukegan-Lake County, Ill.; Wichita, Kan.; Wichita Falls, Texas.

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 1:10 PM MST

 

Update: Six weeks later, Sprint and U.S. Cellular have finally filed their PCS 1900 MHz license assignment applications in the FCC ULS database. From the filing, we have learned that USCC will not relinquish all of its PCS spectrum in Springfield and Champaign, so the primary market spectrum table below has been updated to reflect that clarification. In a nutshell, Sprint will acquire a consistent PCS B block 20 MHz partition and disaggregation in all affected counties in the Chicago MTA and a consistent PCS A block 10 MHz partition and disaggregation in all affected counties in the St. Louis MTA. For a complete list of the counties included in the spectrum transaction, see this spreadsheet from the FCC filing.

 

Yesterday, Sprint and U.S. Cellular announced an agreement to transfer PCS 1900 MHz spectrum and subscribers in several midwestern markets -- notably, Chicago, St. Louis, Ft. Wayne, South Bend, Springfield (IL), and Champaign -- from USCC to Sprint. While this transaction does entail that USCC will exit its largest and home market, Chicago, it is not a merger. Overall, USCC will give up 585,000 subs but will retain over 5 million current subs, and the deal involves no transfer of wireless infrastructure. Rather, the existing USCC CDMA2000 infrastructure in the affected markets will be retired within approximately two years, as subs are transitioned to the Sprint network. The exact boundaries of the PCS licenses and subs to be transferred from USCC to Sprint have not yet been revealed on a county by county basis. So, this article will be updated once the FCC assignment applications are filed or any other further info arises.

 

In the meantime, know that this is a spectrum transaction, bar none. Chicago is Sprint's largest market in which it holds only 20 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum. In nearly all other top 10 markets, Sprint holds 30 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum. And Ft. Wayne is a proverbial red headed stepchild market -- Sprint's only top 100 market with only 10 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum. So, most importantly, this transaction provides a 20 MHz PCS injection into Sprint's spectrum holdings in both Chicago and Ft. Wayne. For a look at the five largest markets included in the deal, see the spectrum table below:

 

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Moreover, Sprint's existing PCS D block 10 MHz and PCS E block 10 MHz licenses in Chicago are non adjacent. As such, Sprint has to run an extra set of guard bands -- one set of guard bands for each license. Those extra guard bands take up valuable spectrum, limiting Sprint to only six instead of seven CDMA2000 carriers in its 20 MHz of spectrum and leaving more sites in Chicago spectrum constrained than in any other big market. Synergistically, though, the PCS B block 20 MHz license that Sprint will acquire in Chicago is directly adjacent to its existing PCS D block 10 MHz license, giving Sprint a fully 30 MHz contiguous swath of PCS spectrum, which will allow Sprint to deploy additional CDMA2000 carriers and larger LTE bandwidth (10-15 MHz FDD) when the time comes to add LTE capacity. See the license contiguity in the band plan diagram below:

 

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Speaking of LTE, that is one of the key reasons why USCC is willing to part with its Chicago market. In most of its markets, USCC holds some combination of Cellular 850 MHz, PCS 1900 MHz, AWS 2100+1700 MHz, and Lower 700 MHz spectrum. But in Chicago, USCC controls only the aforementioned 20 MHz block of PCS spectrum. USCC entered the Chicago market just 10 years ago when it acquired PrimeCo, which had been divested as part of the merger that created Verizon Wireless. Since then, USCC has been unable to acquire additional spectrum in Chicago, leaving it effectively incapable of deploying LTE in its largest market while continuing its CDMA2000 operations. So, the deal with Sprint provides an exit strategy for Chicago in what was otherwise a dead end market for USCC.

 

In the other five of the six markets detailed above, USCC likely could roll out LTE, as it holds additional AWS 2100+1700 MHz and/or Lower 700 MHz licenses in those markets. It should be noted, however, that those non PCS licenses are not being transferred to Sprint in this deal. But as it exits those markets, USCC will almost surely look to sell the other licenses, too, with VZW and T-Mobile being likely buyers for the AWS spectrum, AT&T a strong possibility for some of the 700 MHz spectrum.

 

Sources: FCC, USCC, Sprint

WiWavelength
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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 12:05 PM MDT

 

Over the past six months, Apple's iPad 3 has racked up millions of sales, yet Google's (and Asus') Nexus 7 and Microsoft's Surface tablets have grabbed the headlines over the summer and into the fall. Yesterday, Apple struck back by not only rolling out iPad 4 the same year as iPad 3 but also introducing the long rumored iPad mini. S4GRU readers will recall that Sprint was left out of the iPad 3 sweepstakes, Sprint's nascent LTE network making its debut a few months after iPad 3's announcement. Certainly, some will bemoan that iPad 3 has been replaced in only half the usual yearly upgrade cycle, but Sprint users definitely benefit, as Sprint is fully in the fold this time with LTE support on the VZW/Sprint/global versions of both iPad 4 (A1960) and iPad mini (A1955).

 

As soon as Apple's announcement event concluded yesterday, authorization filings for the new Sprint compatible iPads (iPad 4, iPad mini) started popping up in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database. So, joining our series of articles on on the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, and soon to be released LG Eclipse and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is an RF capability focused look at Sprint's first two iPads:

  • CDMA1X/EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • EV-DO Rev B Multi Carrier (i.e. 2xEV-DO, 3xEV-DO)
  • LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25 (i.e. LTE 2100+1900/1800/850/750/1900)
  • LTE 1900 1.4/3/5/10/15/20 MHz FDD carrier bandwidths
  • W-CDMA bands 1, 2, 5, 8 (i.e. W-CDMA 2100+1900/1900/850/900)
  • DC-HSPA+ (i.e. Dual Carrier)
  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Wi-Fi hotspot (2.4 GHz only) support for all cellular airlinks
  • Maximum RF ERP/EIRP (iPad 4): 23.10 dBm (CDMA1X 850), 22.90 dBm (EV-DO 850), 30.12 dBm (CDMA1X 1900), 29.08 dBm (EV-DO 1900), 23.30 dBm (CDMA1X 800), 23.40 dBm (EV-DO 800), 29.78 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • Antenna gain (iPad 4): -1.58 dBi (Cellular 850 MHz), 2.44 dBi (PCS 1900 MHz), -2.24 dBi (SMR 800 MHz)
  • Antenna locations (iPad 4): (see FCC OET diagram below)

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The inclusion of EV-DO Rev B Multi Carrier and the imposed limitations -- Cellular 850 MHz only, no 64-QAM -- are a bit curious. But these limitations will have no ramifications for use in North America, where EV-DO Rev B has not been deployed. All told, though, both iPad 4 and iPad mini look to be solid RF performers. Not surprisingly, since they share the same Qualcomm MDM9615 modem with iPhone 5, both iPads carry over basically the same airlink capabilities from the Sprint compatible iPhone 5 -- see S4GRU writer Ian Littman's article. And it should be noted that iPad mini, despite its diminutive size, does not lag behind its larger sibling. All ERP/EIRP figures are within ~1 dB between both iPads. In fact, for both EV-DO 1900 and LTE 1900 maximum EIRP, iPad mini trumps iPad 4 by ~0.5 dB. Furthermore, both iPads in their high ERP/EIRP outputs are less like power and size constrained handsets, more like mobile hotspots. Indeed, both iPads appear to be very capable hotspot devices.

 

Sources: FCC, Apple

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