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What is a PRL?

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. 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

S4GRU

Sprint Marketing Updates 4G LTE City List where work is under way and adds 36 more communities including Louisiana market start

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.  

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint Affiliate Shentel to launch LTE on 125 sites in 56 communities in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania on Black Friday

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

S4GRU

Sprint Marketing Updates 4G LTE City List where work is under way and adds 9 more communities

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)    

S4GRU

S4GRU

(UPDATED) Sprint-USCC spectrum deal: Sprint gets 20 MHz broader in the "City of Broad Shoulders"

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: 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: 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

WiWavelength

Sur la tablet: Apple iPad 4, iPad mini add Sprint LTE support

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) 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

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Network Vision/LTE Deployment is starting now in Providence, Upstate NY Central, Southern Jersey and Delaware Markets ahead of schedule

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, October 22, 2012 - 2:50 PM MDT Four more Sprint markets that were slated to begin Network Vision/LTE deployments in 2013 are beginning early. Good news for Sprint customers in the Providence, Upstate NY Central, Southern Jersey and Delaware markets. S4GRU has been able to confirm that Network Vision is now under way in these four markets, all of them being deployed by Alcatel Lucent. This past week, AlcaLu has completed 3G upgrades in a small handful of sites in each of these markets, with 4G yet to come. First LTE signals should start appearing sporadically in these markets in the next 30-60 days. We currently do not have detailed schedules for these markets, so we will not be able to offer projected launch dates or completion dates at this time. However, near some of the first to be converted sites, Sprint customers can look forward to seeing improved 3G speeds and maybe even some testing/prelaunch LTE signals a few months earlier than originally planned. You can join us here at S4GRU and track these depoyments. We have a thread we titled the Network Vision Deployment Running List where you can see a summary of all the Sprint markets currently under deployment. Additionally, we offer even more info where we track the completed sites to date on Interactive Maps in our Sponsor section. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship   Sprint's Providence Market. Alcatel Lucent is starting Network Vision/LTE deployments in the Providence market. Cities that will be a part of this deployment include Providence, Newport, Cranston and Warwick. With only 144 sites, the market may wrap up relatively quickly. Click on Map to Enlarge.   Sprint's Upstate NY Central Market. Alcatel Lucent has begun Network Vision/LTE deployments in the Upstate New York Central market. The market includes Syracuse, Utica, Rome, Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca and Watertown. 257 sites total. Click on Map to Enlarge.   Sprint's Southern Jersey Market. Alcatel Lucent has begun Network Vision/LTE deployments in the Southern Jersey market. The market includes Trenton, Camden, Atlantic City, Princeton, Cherry Hill, Vineland, Millville and Cape May. 302 sites total. Click on Map to Enlarge.   Sprint's Delaware Market. Alcatel Lucent has begun Network Vision/LTE deployments in the Delaware market. The market includes Wilmington, Dover and the entire state of Delaware, and the small NE corner of Maryland. 139 sites total. Click on Map to Enlarge.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint "brings" LTE service to Greater Chicago and Other Communities

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, October 22, 2012 - 11:00 AM MDT   Today, Sprint announced in four separate Press Releases that they have brought 4G LTE Service to the Chicagoland area, as well as Wichita Falls Texas, Hutchinson and McPherson Kansas, New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts. It is probably no accident that Sprint selected to use the phrase "Sprint brings 4G LTE" in lieu of "launched." Don't misunderstand though that this is good news. LTE service in these newly announced areas has actually been active for awhile (in some places several months). Sprint only announced the outer suburbs of Chicago as being live, but actually Sprint LTE service is live over 80% of the metro area. However, the more urban sites in Chicago need to have service bolstered up even greater before Sprint sticks their neck out and claim the service is live. Even in non launched areas of the Chicago market, LTE service is still usable where sites have been completed.   Chicago Sprint LTE Coverage Map. This is the LTE coverage map showing in Chicago as of today. Coverages shown are a little generous with their modeling. This map would indicate coverage is nearly total, but we think it's more like 80%, using a very liberal estimate. In both Hutchinson and McPherson, Kansas, each of those cities now has two LTE sites operable. For McPherson, that covers most of the area, only leaving one more site to upgrade. In Hutchinson, they have two of five sites broadcasting LTE, which covers most of the city pretty well. Service will get even better when full LTE density is achieved. Over in Wichita Falls, Texas, Sprint LTE is usable from three sites out of sixteen. So site density is very thin at this point. Sprint overly optimistically shows very good coverage on their maps saturating the entire Wichita Falls area. Service should be decent when near these three sites, otherwise you will likely only be able to get coverage outside. LTE performance will drastically improve as more and more coverage is added in the next few months. In Southeast Massachusetts, Sprint LTE is also live around Fall River and New Bedford. The first New Bedford LTE site went online about five weeks ago, and the service has been growing since. Currently both New Bedford and Fall River have three LTE sites a piece working. Which is about one third of the total sites in the area. So coverage is OK now, but will get even better over the next few months. On another note, our members discovered the new coverages show up Friday night on the Sprint website and figured out Sprint would be making these announcements on Monday. Clever group we have here at S4GRU.   NOTE: In our Sponsor Section, we have interactive maps that show all the completed sites to date, including the sites in the markets referenced in this article. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

Network Vision/LTE Deployment is starting now in East Kentucky, North LA, Upstate New York East and VT/NH/ME Markets ahead of schedule

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 7:00 AM MDT   Four Sprint markets that were slated to begin Network Vision/LTE deployments in 2013 are beginning early. Good news for Sprint customers in the East Kentucky, Upstate New York East, North LA and Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine Sprint markets.   S4GRU has been able to confirm that Network Vision is now under way in these blessed locations. Three of these markets are being deployed by Alcatel Lucent (Upstate NY East, North LA & VT/NH/ME) and the East Kentucky market is being deployed by Ericsson. In fact, AlcaLu already has completed 3G upgrades in a small handful of sites in these markets, with 4G yet to come. Ericsson is just now beginning in the East Kentucky market and do not quite have any sites complete yet.   We currently do not have detailed schedules for these markets, so we will not be able to offer projected launch dates or completion dates at this time. However, near some of the first to be converted sites, Sprint customers will start to see improved 3G speeds and possibly even some prelaunch LTE signals.   You can join us here at S4GRU and track these depoyments. We have a thread we titled the Network Vision Deployment Running List where you can see a summary of all the Sprint markets currently under deployment. Additionally, we offer even more info where we track the completed sites to date on Interactive Maps in our Sponsor section. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship   Sprint's East Kentucky Market. Ericsson is starting Network Vision/LTE deployments in the East Kentucky market. Cities that will be a part of this deployment include Lexington, Frankfort, Danville, Somerset, London, Corbin. With only 119 sites, the market may wrap up relatively quickly. Click on Map to Enlarge.   Sprint's North LA Market. Alcatel Lucent has begun Network Vision/LTE deployments in the North LA market. The market includes Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. 219 sites total. Click on Map to Enlarge.   Sprint's Upper NY East Market. Alcatel Lucent has begun Network Vision/LTE deployments in the Upper NY East market. The market includes the Albany metro area and Saratoga Springs. 216 sites total. Click on Map to Enlarge.   Sprint's VT/NH/ME Market. Alcatel Lucent has begun Network Vision/LTE deployments in the VT/NH/ME market. The market includes all of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and NE New York. 362 sites total. Click on Map to Enlarge.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Deal worked out for Japan's SoftBank to purchase 70% stake in Sprint Nextel forming a "New Sprint"

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, October 15, 2012 - 2:39 AM MDT Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank and Sprint Nextel formally announced a new venture called "New Sprint" that includes the foreign carrier taking a 70% stake in Sprint. The $20 Billion deal was revealed in the middle of the pre-dawn morning here in the United States as it was timed to be better for the business day where the event announcement was held in Tokyo. The stage was co-hosted by SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. Notably absent in remarks during the announcement or from the Press Releases is clarity for the outcome of Clearwire. There has been speculation about how Clearwire would shake out of this deal. Clearwire's fate is not yet, clear (sorry for the pun). Some believe that Sprint will take it's large cash infusion from SoftBank and purchase Clearwire outright to make their spectrum apart of the SoftBank/Sprint long term strategy. Formally in the Press Release, it says that Sprint is not required to take any action. But the door is left open that they indeed could do that with proceeds. The boards of both SoftBank and Sprint have approved the transaction. The deal is anticipated to close in Mid 2013 and will be subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. It seems to us that regulatory approval in the U.S. should be relatively easy. Japanese companies have not received the scrutiny that Chinese companies have in the past. Most often citing security concerns. The New Sprint will stay headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas and Dan Hesse will stay on as the CEO of the new venture. Only three existing Sprint board members will be on the new 10 person New Sprint board. S4GRU Members have been discussing this in our forums for the past week since the rumors first surfaced that SoftBank and Sprint were in talks. The Press Release with more details is below:    

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint Marketing Updates 4G LTE City List where work is under way and adds 20 more

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, October 12, 2012 - 8:19 AM MDT   On this Friday morning, Sprint's marketing cranked out a new Press Release adding 20 additional communities that Sprint anticipates having at least a prelaunch amount of service available to use by its LTE customers before the end of the year.   All of these appear to be in areas where Sprint is already working. But just expanding out to other communities within those markets. A couple are a repeat from the previous 100 city list from Sprint, like Warsaw, Marion and South Bend, Indiana and Sebring, Florida. However, I know there are a lot of Ft. Wayne customers who are now happy to see they will not get left behind their Hoosier State counterparts in South Bend.   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.   EDIT 8:44 AM MDT: After further review, Joplin, MO is the first city in the Missouri market. So there is one new market where deployment is now expanding to. This should be taken as good news that work will also be starting in St. Louis, Springfield, Columbia and Jefferson City in the not-too-distant future.    

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Big enough for everything (except SVDO)

by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, October 5, 2012 - 2:00 PM MDT   Earlier this week, the Samsung SPH-L900 authorization filing hit the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database. Judging by the handset's expansive 150 mm x 80 mm dimensions, S4GRU firmly expects this device to be the upcoming Sprint version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 "phablet." In keeping with our previous articles on the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, and yet to be released LG Eclipse, here is an RF focused breakdown of the presumed Note 2's FCC disclosed tech specs: 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/HSPA band 2 (i.e. W-CDMA/HSPA 1900)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/1900
GPRS/EDGE multislot class 10 (i.e. max 4 downlink, 2 uplink, 5 total timeslots)
802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous Wi-Fi tether (2.4 GHz only)
SVDO support absent
Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 20.03 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 24.46 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 20.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 28.35 dBm (GSM 850), 25.05 dBm (EDGE 850), 29.44 dBm (GSM 1900), 24.13 dBm (EDGE 1900), 21.41 dBm (W-CDMA 1900), 19.63 dBm (LTE 1900)
NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
  Besides the incorporation of GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/1900 and W-CDMA/HSPA 1900 capabilities, the most notable feature of the Note 2 is the lack of SVDO capability. That absence appears to be related to the inclusion of W-CDMA/HSPA, which coexists on a transmit path with LTE. In typical SVDO capable handsets, CDMA1X/EV-DO has one transmit path, but EV-DO has a second possible transmit path that it shares with LTE. That is not the case with the Note 2, as can be seen in the antenna locations and simultaneous transmission paths diagrams:     Within each transmission path, only one airlink can be active at any given time. This is a hardware restriction that precludes SVDO but allows SVLTE. Additionally, some other simultaneous transmission scenarios that are technically supported by the hardware (e.g. CDMA1X voice + W-CDMA data) are locked out in software. For all of the possible and permissible simultaneous transmission scenarios, see the included table from the FCC filing:     In conclusion, if SVDO truly was sacrificed in order to include W-CDMA, that is a curious compromise, especially for a handset otherwise geared (e.g. band class 10 CDMA1X, band 25 LTE) specifically for Sprint.   Source: FCC

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

NewCo needs to drop some of the PCS from MetroPCS

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, October 5, 2012 - 8:00 AM MDT   Unless you have been under a telecom rock the past 48 hours -- or stuck in the boonies with only a GSM device (I kid, I kid) -- you have read that T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS have agreed in principle to a complicated reverse merger arrangement that would create a combined carrier, at least provisionally called NewCo. Now, Sprint has jumped back into the fray, this after Sprint's executive leadership had readied a bid for MetroPCS earlier this year but was vetoed by the board of directors. Sprint's motivations for pursuing a counter bid could be multifold. Sprint could actually be trying to acquire MetroPCS, feeling a sense of urgency that it did not this spring. Plus, Sprint's perception on Wall Street has improved dramatically during the past few months, making a merger a more financially palatable prospect. Sprint could be attempting to force T-Mobile to sweeten its offer for MetroPCS, potentially costing competitor T-Mobile additional financial resources. Sprint could be trying to gain some concessions in order to allow the merger to proceed. That last possibility is what this article will explore, namely, that NewCo would agglomerate an egregious amount of PCS 1900 MHz spectrum in several markets in which Sprint also happens to be a bit PCS spectrum shy. By throwing its own hat into the ring, Sprint should pressure NewCo to divest excess PCS spectrum to Sprint voluntarily. Alternatively, Sprint could lobby the FCC, oppose the merger and its transfer of spectrum licenses, and try to get some mandated divestitures that way. To illustrate, MetroPCS currently operates in at least some PCS spectrum in 10 major markets. The linked spreadsheet below compares NewCo's potential PCS A-F block spectrum holdings to Sprint's current PCS A-F block spectrum holdings in those 10 markets.     https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArY31Mr219-ydE1tRVdJS19ocjBZXzVibk01Wm5wLWc&usp=sharing In those 10 markets, Sprint holds 20-30 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum, while NewCo would have 35-60 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum, including 50-60 MHz in four of the markets. Considering that 60 MHz represents fully half of the total 120 MHz bandwidth of the traditional PCS band, that is an outrageous amount of PCS spectrum -- especially for a carrier that is hitching its LTE wagon to AWS, not PCS. Even AT&T would blush at acquiring that much spectrum within a given band. Keep in mind, too, that this analysis does not take into account the 40-60 MHz of AWS 2100+1700 MHz spectrum that NewCo would hold in those same 10 markets, including 50-60 MHz in all but Atlanta. And that 50-60 MHz would be even more than half of the total 90 MHz bandwidth of the AWS band. Furthermore, T-Mobile has made it known that it intends to pare down its exclusively PCS GSM/GPRS/EDGE spectrum utilization to 10 MHz per market, refarming its remaining PCS spectrum to W-CDMA/HSPA+ in a desperate attempt to attract unsubsidized iPhone users. The Dallas Region Case Study graphic from the NewCo investor presentation corroborates this plan. Moreover, the graphic shows how NewCo plans to operate DC-HSPA+ (20 MHz) for at least the next three years in parallel on both PCS and AWS plus 15-20 MHz FDD LTE on AWS -- an unnecessarily redundant, inefficient strategy. In short, NewCo does not need as much PCS spectrum as it is set to acquire. Otherwise, it is just as much a spectrum glutton as are VZW and AT&T. So, here is the solution. In Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, Sacramento, and San Francisco, NewCo should preemptively choose to or be required to divest 10 MHz of its accumulated PCS spectrum. Sprint would be the obvious buyer, as that would increase its PCS A-F block assets to 30 MHz in those markets. Meanwhile, NewCo would still retain 35-50 MHz of PCS in those same markets, plenty of spectrum for 10 MHz of GSM, 10 MHz of HSPA+ or even 20 MHz of DC-HSPA+, and 10 MHz of CDMA1X/EV-DO for MetroPCS legacy.   Sources: FCC, MetroPCS

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

CONFIRMED: Network Vision/LTE deployment is under way in the Indianapolis market

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 9:45 AM MDT   S4GRU members in the Indianapolis market have been wondering if something is up recently. Seeing a little activity at Sprint sites in the area. The past couple of days, flickerings of Sprint LTE have been discovered in the NE and East Indy suburbs. Network Vision/LTE deployment is now confirmed under way in the Indianapolis market. As you can see in the map at the bottom, diligent S4GRU members have been out scouring the city trying to find spots of live Sprint LTE. And they have found them. But it is definitely early in the deployment. The signals come and go throughout the day in these locations. Undoubtedly, Samsung's subcontractors are testing the signals, and often turn them off when they leave the site for the day. We are quite happy to see work is definitely occurring in the Indianapolis market. And it is starting right on time, as the first LTE sites were expected around early October. Given a few rough starts to LTE deployment, it seems Sprint is starting to get things under control and maybe they will start hitting their stride with their OEM's and subcontractors soon.   Preliminary Speed Test and Tower Phots. S4GRU Members hit the streets to find and document the LTE signals around Indy. The speed test is rather slow compared to other Sprint LTE deployments with a good signal. But they only just have begun testing in this market. Images from S4GRU member newboyx.   This is the first evidence of Network Vision/LTE deployment we have discovered in the Indy market. Deployment is likely occurring over the entire market and will soon be in many other communities in the vicinity. Sprint is targeting several cities in this market for launch before the end of the year. The following Indianapolis market communities were listed in Sprint's next 100 city list, including Anderson, Columbus, Carmel, Muncie, and of course, Indianapolis. At this point, it seems that other communities in this market will likely not have enough LTE service to constitute the service launched until some time after the New Year. In the interim, LTE signals may come and go around Indy. They are just in the infancy of deployment. Sprint has been pretty consistent in blocking LTE connections at completed sites after they accept the improvements from the Network Vision OEM/subcontractors. Also, it may not be surprising to see isolated LTE signals appear in other Central Indiana Sprint communities.   Sensorly.com LTE coverage map in Indianapolis, Indiana. Some S4GRU members hit the road and plotted LTE signals using the Sensorly Android map to illustrate some of the coverage by the newly active sites. Click on Map to Enlarge.

S4GRU

S4GRU

CONFIRMED: Network Vision/LTE deployment is under way in the Ft. Wayne/South Bend market

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, September 28, 2012 - 5:15 AM MDT   S4GRU received a tip from one of our members in Northern Indiana ten days ago Network Vision was spotted underway in the Ft. Wayne/South Bend market. He was able to take some photos (below) to show that new Network Vision panels indeed have been added at Site #CH03HO119 located on the south west side of Elkhart, Indiana. Yesterday, S4GRU members found Sprint LTE signals in this vicinity, reaching all over the south side of Elkhart out toward Goshen. Hurrah! Several members went out and started adding this coverage to Sensorly.com coverage maps. Sensorly has an Android app that people can download which can be used to upload 4G LTE coverages of wireless carriers to Google maps for tracking (and 3G/2G signals too). This is welcome news to Sprint customers in Northern Indiana. This work is also a little early based on the Network Vision schedules S4GRU has. Some of our members have joked in the past that this market gets preferential treatment from Sprint, because the Sprint CEO Dan Hesse went to school at Notre Dame. Although we have no evidence of any favoritism involved here, we are always happy to see any Network Vision progress and report it back to you.   Site #CH03HO119 in Elkhart, Indiana. The new Network Vision panel that contains LTE is in the middle of the bottom rack on the tower. The legacy PCS panels are on both sides. Photos from S4GRU member C.A.R.   This is the first evidence of Network Vision/LTE deployment we have discovered in the Ft. Wayne/South Bend market. Deployment is likely beginning over the entire market and will soon be in all corners, even the Fort Wayne area. However, only the communities of South Bend/Elkhart, Warsaw and Marion were included in the next 100 city list Sprint released a few weeks ago containing names of communities expected to have a launchable amount of LTE service before the end of 2012. At this point, it seems that other communities in this market will likely not have enough LTE service to constitute the service launched until some time after the New Year. In the interim, LTE signals may come and go around the South Bend/Elkhart area. They are just in the infancy of deployment. Sprint has been pretty consistent in blocking LTE connections at completed sites after they accept the improvements from the Network Vision OEM/subcontractors. Also, it may not be surprising to see isolated LTE signals appear in other Northern Indiana Sprint communities. This market also contains a remarkable amount of 1x sites. Sites that essentially only have 2G speeds, never receiving 3G EVDO upgrades. It is believed that these sites will go from 1x service only to 3G and 4G LTE at the same time. Essentially skipping the entire 3rd generation of wireless service. There are thousands of rural customers looking forward to having a 3G network finally, at the same time they get 4G wireless broadband. Sensorly.com LTE coverage map in Elkhart, Indiana. Several S4GRU members hit the road and plotted LTE signals using the Sensorly Android map to illustrate some of the coverage by the new site.

S4GRU

S4GRU

A Win for the Midrange: Samsung Galaxy Victory OET Review

by Ian Littman
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 7:05 AM MDT   At around $100 with a contract (before the inevitable wave of promotional offers that have already hit its big brother, the Galaxy SIII), the Samsung Galaxy Victory falls under the definition of a midrange smartphone. It has specs somewhat reminiscent of the old Epic 4G: a 5 megapixel rear camera with 720p video recording, a front camera, a 4-inch 800x480 screen and a not-particularly-slim profile. However it differs from that older device by dropping the keyboard, upping the battery to the same-capacity (but, compared to my SIII, not the same model) 2100 mAh unit found in the SIII, pushing the Android version to 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and swapping WiMAX for LTE as its 4G technology. But that’s information you can get anywhere. What about the phone’s maximum output powers, simultaneous-data-and-voice capabilities, and antenna placement? You’ve come to the right place. Spoiler: this device looks solid.     This phone isn’t nearly as hot of an item as the iPhone 5 (nor does it have the specs...or the price to give the Apple product a run for its money), however the iPhone happens to be a very fair device to compare the Victory to in terms of radio performance. On CDMA the iPhone marginally wins out on PCS (by 0.31 dB), however it’s trounced by the Victory in SMR with a 4.69 dB lead in transmit EIRP, showing the difference between a jack-of-all-trades and a purpose-built Sprint phone. On the LTE side, the iPhone wins out by around 3.3 dB on the EIRP front, however this number decreases to fall in line with the Victory if the iPhone’s upper antenna is used (the Victory only transmits EvDO and LTE with its upper antenna). Plus, the Victory can hold a voice call on 1x while utilizing EvDO or LTE for data. iPhone comparisons aside, the Victory is a phone very obviously made with Sprint in mind. Radio figures actually look better across the board than either the Evo 4G LTE or the Galaxy SIII, though these numbers only describe the device’s transmit power, not how well it can receive a signal in a marginal area. Still, as midrange phones with LTE go, the strong radio characteristics of the Victory (or, as Sprint calls it, the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE) add to the list of reasons to get this phone over something else of the same ilk.  

S4GRU

S4GRU

Jack of all bands: iPhone 5 FCC OET review

by Ian Littman
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, September 14, 2012 - 9:35 AM MDT   In the past, Apple’s iPhone wasn’t quite the ideal Sprint phone from a network perspective; it lacked 4G of any sort and didn’t include support for Sprint’s nascent SMR-800 1x CDMA network (in place of Nextel iDEN). The situation could be worse (for example, CricKet iPhones can’t get native service in many of the company’s newer, AWS-only markets), but as a flagship phone it was odd to see the iPhone lacking one core piece of Network Vision support that every other Sprint phone released in the past year has had. That issue has now been solved...sort of. I’m Ian Littman, standing in for AJ (aka WiWavelength) with an analysis of the non-AT&T edition (A1429) of the iPhone. I’ll focus on the pieces that Sprint subscribers will use, as the phone supports a cornucopia of bands and technologies (quad-band GSM/EDGE, quad-band HSPA+ including dual-carrier, EvDO Rev. B with up to 3 carriers in the cellular band) in addition to CDMA 1x, EvDO and LTE (in 2100MHz and 1800MHz, which Sprint won’t use). So, without further ado, the rundown:   On the surface it looks like the iPhone is a very capable device; it can realistically hit 100 Mbps on LTE, using both its antennas to receive (but not send) the signal on a 20MHz channel (which a number of Sprint phones don’t support, my Galaxy SIII included). It supports a ton of bands (my bet is that even the “GSM version” of the A1429 has CDMA built in, but it is not certified/disabled in non-CDMA countries) and technologies. However the good news ends there. For example, several Sprint phones now have SVDO and/or SVLTE support; you can make a call on 1x while maintaining a data connection. The Sprint/Verizon versions of the iPhone, to our knowledge, can’t do that. The best it can do is VoIP over LTE or EvDO...garden-variety VoIP, not the more robust VoLTE variety. Being able to transmit LTE on only one antenna isn’t terribly surprising...most current phones are 1x2 MISO (Multiple In Single Out), however Apple’s attention is obviously directed at carriers with HSPA networks when it comes to delivering a high-quality wireless experience. Another example of this is Apple’s HD Voice ability; Sprint will be the first US carrier to support the technology, but not on the iPhone, which can only use HD Voice over WCDMA. Apple’s ability to pack a ton of bands into a single, super-slim phone is definitely a technological marvel, particularly in conjunction with a wide-channel LTE network (since the iPhone’s WiFi is SISO, it may be able to pull down data more quickly on LTE than on 802.11n, given ideal conditions on both). However a tailor-made Sprint phone it most definitely is not, though the inclusion of SMR CDMA softens the blow a bit. As an aside, the AT&T edition of the iPhone supports LTE in the PCS (without G), AWS and Cellular bands, in addition to AT&T’s current 700MHz lower-B/lower-C network (band classes 2, 4, 5 and 7, respectively). So the AT&T edition of the phone is actually a better fit for providers like CricKet, MetroPCS and US Cellular...if not for the glaring omission of those carriers’ 3G network technologies (and VoLTE).  

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint Marketing Releases a 4G LTE City List where work is under way

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, September 10, 2012 - 8:05 AM MDT   This morning, we received a Press Release from Sprint Marketing that shows some of Sprint's plan in their LTE deployment through the end of the year. In this Press Release, Sprint officially names 12 more markets that have received/starting to receive LTE deployments currently, and names more than 100 communities names. None of these are any surprise to people who follow S4GRU closely, especially those with access to Sponsor content. In fact, this Press Release is a big confirmation of all of our data to date. This will be an exciting update to the millions of Sprint customers in these areas and now makes many more markets official. Stay with S4GRU to plot the progress!  

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

CONFIRMED: Network Vision/LTE deployment is under way in the Austin market

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 7:45 AM MDT   S4GRU has received a tip that Network Vision was spotted underway in the Austin metro area. We were able to send out a core member to verify. We are happy to report that Sprint is indeed under way with Network Vision/LTE deployment in the Austin market.   S4GRU Member ATX4G first reported the work at the site. Later S4GRU Member boomerbubba, went out to verify for this article. While at Site #SA14XC087, Boomerbubba was able to actually talk with one of the field techs working at the site, and offered this report:     There you go. Verification of the first Austin site. Most likely, there are many more currently under active deployment all around greater Austin at this moment. We also reported this weekend more activity in the Austin market with a new site at Ft. Hood Medical Center.   It looks like the Austin market is no longer being delayed and back on track with an active deployment. The original Network Vision schedule had work starting in the Austin Metro Area in June. So, it appears like it is starting 2-1/2 months later than originally planned. So perhaps we can expect an end of November launch and a January/February completion? By the end of September, they should be hitting their stride and we can better evaluate then. Stay tuned.  

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

Sprint announces that Baltimore is now formally launched, as well as some other communities in already launched markets

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 7:20 AM MDT   Today, Sprint announces they have launched service in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as in Gainesville, Georgia (in the Atlanta/Athens market) and Manhattan, Kansas and Sedalia, Missouri (in the Kansas market).   However, S4GRU members have been reporting LTE service has been usable for weeks in these locations. Additionally, coverage showed up at coverage.sprint.com last Thursday. Service around Baltimore is pretty patchy, but better than some of the other launch markets on Launch Day. Additionally, there is a lone site in Annapolis for Sprint LTE customers to use while in Maryland's Capital City.   S4GRU Writer, AJ Shepherd, was in Manhattan, Kansas last Friday and reported good to spotty coverage. Good performance was observed in areas with good signal.   See the Sprint Press Release below:  

S4GRU

S4GRU

Can toggling airplane mode actually improve your 3G data speeds?

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, August 17, 2012 - 1:14 PM MDT   CDMA1X and EV-DO carrier channels are shared resources. In CDMA1X, many subscribers share the same carrier channel, their individual traffic kept theoretically orthogonal by code division. Likewise, in EV-DO, individual traffic is separated by time division. But what happens when Sprint (or any other CDMA2000 network provider) has deployed greater than one CDMA1X and/or EV-DO carrier channel on a given cell site? How does your handset determine which carrier channel to utilize? You might like to think that your handset would automatically choose the least loaded CDMA1X and/or EV-DO carrier channel. But that is not really the case. Instead, when multiple carrier channels are available, each cell site broadcasts a channel list message of the available carrier channels on that site. Upon receiving this list of multiple carrier channels, each handset then invokes a hashing algorithm to select which carrier channel to use. Think of it like a multi lane highway, but each car must choose a particular lane based on the car's license plate number. For CDMA1X, the hashing algorithm -- which is a kind of pseudo random number generator -- is seeded with the handset's ESN or the subscriber's MDN/MSID (i.e. phone number). Unless the subscriber changes devices or phone numbers, these values remain static, hence the carrier channel hash is quite predictable. And Sprint, for reference, seems to use MDN/MSID based hashing. Nearly a decade ago, I built a spreadsheet that emulates the CDMA1X hashing algorithm, downloadable as an XLS file. However, for EV-DO, the carrier channel hash is not quite so outwardly predictable. To seed the hashing algorithm, EV-DO uses a session number, which obviously varies from data session to data session. Each time that a handset powers up, crosses a SID/NID boundary, or even toggles airplane mode, for example, generates a new EV-DO data session, hence a new session number. And it is this session number that determines the output of the hashing algorithm. To demonstrate this process, I positioned myself in one location about a quarter of a mile distant from the north sector of a local cell site. Over the course of several minutes, I grabbed three screen caps of the EV-DO engineering screen on one of my handsets. In between each screen cap, I cycled airplane mode at least once, each cycle generating a new data session. In the span of four minutes, I was able to get my handset to hash to each of the three EV-DO carrier channels deployed on this site. When I arrived at the site, my handset hashed to PCS 0175, which is the third EV-DO carrier channel (F3) in the channel list message. The second and third hashes after toggling airplane mode several times were to PCS 0150 (F2) and to PCS 0100 (F1). See the Channel Number field depicted in the screen caps:   In addition, here is a raw RF look with a spectrum analyzer at the seven CDMA2000 carrier channels deployed on this cell site sector: The four CDMA1X carrier channels are PCS 0050, PCS 0075, PCS 0125, and PCS 0200. As is oft the case, the three aforementioned EV-DO carrier channels -- PCS 0100, PCS 0150, PCS 0175 -- are distinguishable by their slightly higher RF power output. Furthermore, for those curious, PCS 0025 (at the far left of the graph) and PCS 0225, PCS 0250, and PCS 0275 (at the right of the graph) are fallow spectrum on this site. If deployed, PCS 0025 would be the next EV-DO carrier channel (F4), PCS 0275 the final EV-DO carrier channel (F5), while PCS 0225 and PCS 0250 would be additional CDMA1X carrier channels. Back to the hashing algorithm, while it attempts to distribute users more or less evenly among available EV-DO carrier channels, it does not take into account several other factors, such as loading and backhaul. For example, if you are stuck on a carrier channel and sector with a few data hogs who have stronger signal than you do, your data speeds will likely suffer as the "fair and proportional" scheduler integral to the EV-DO airlink attempts to maximize total throughput by allocating greater time slots to the users with better signal quality. Additionally, backhaul may not be distributed evenly among deployed carrier channels, so it is possible that some carrier channels may have inherently greater data capacity than others do. Another benefit of rehashing to a different carrier channel is that you may be able to connect to a closer cell site. Because not all cell sites have the same number of deployed EV-DO carrier channels, carrier channel hashing is an imperfect process. To illustrate, the cell site (call it cell site "A") that I detailed above for this trial has three EV-DO carrier channels (F1, F2, F3), as duly noted. But the adjacent cell site to the north (call it cell site "B") has only two EV-DO carrier channels (F1, F2). A handset that hashes to F3 on cell site "A" will cling to carrier channel PCS 0175 even as it moves north well into the coverage area of cell site "B." Interference will not be a problem, as cell site "B" does not transmit PCS 0175, but signal strength (and data speeds) will diminish until cell site "A" drops below a network defined threshold, at which point the handset will handoff to cell site "B" and hash to PCS 0150. This can require substantial movement and/or time. So, if you always want the most crisp EV-DO handoffs, you can try to ensure that your handset always hashes to F1, the EV-DO carrier deployed on essentially every site in the market. To conclude, by no means is airplane mode a panacea for slow 3G data ills. EV-DO carrier channel deployment and backhaul can vary from site to site, while loading can also vary from site to site, even from minute to minute. And EV-DO networks in some cities are just generally overloaded. But if you are at work, in a restaurant, at a park, etc., and find yourself with unbearably slow 3G data or lower than usual signal strength for that location, try toggling airplane mode. A 30 second on/off cycle of airplane mode will start a new data session and could get your handset to rehash to another EV-DO carrier channel that is on a closer site, has better backhaul, and/or is currently less loaded.   Sources: Qualcomm, author's field data

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

(UPDATED) LG Eclipse 4G casts an early shadow

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, August 10, 2012 - 6:54 PM MDT   Update: The previously dubbed LG Eclipse is being released November 11 as the Optimus G. Additionally, the LTE 1900 EIRP figures that were missing from the original FCC filing were added six weeks later in a Class II Permissive Change application. Max LTE 1900 EIRP is 23.51 dBm -- though with substantial variability (up to 4.5 dB) due to differences in carrier frequency, bandwidth, and modulation (QPSK/16-QAM). Furthermore, CDMA1X/EV-DO 800 max ERP has been increased by approximately 2 dB to 23.17 dBm.   To quote the inimitable Yogi Berra, "It's déjà vu all over again." And here we go again. S4GRU is happy to announce yet another breakdown of an FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization filing for a major device headed to Sprint's upcoming Network Vision enhanced LTE overlay. Since this spring, we have analyzed the FCC authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, and yet to be released Motorola Photon Q 4G. Today, the expected LG Eclipse 4G hit the FCC database under the model number LG LS970, and here are the RF facets that we have been able to glean: 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 and 10 MHz carrier bandwidths 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi; max MCS index 7 (i.e. 20 MHz channel, 400 ns guard interval, single spatial channel) SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous Wi-Fi tether SVDO support absent Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 21.86 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 25.33 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 21.68 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800) NFC antenna integrated into battery cover Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagrams below)   Notably missing from the presumed LG Eclipse's FCC filing are two things: SVDO capability and LTE band 25 EIRP test results. Rumor has it that the Eclipse will utilize Qualcomm's upcoming and highly anticipated APQ8064 quad core 28 nm "Krait" processor. The quad core difference is noteworthy compared to the dual core MSM8960 chipset that has proven very successful in the EVO LTE and Galaxy S3, et al. But the MSM8960 incorporates a multimode modem, while the APQ8064 is a naked processor. If rumor has it right, then the Eclipse will also have to utilize at least one separate modem chipset. And it would seem that LG has chosen at least one CDMA1X/EV-DO modem that is not capable of voice "Fusion," which would enable SVDO with a second modem. So, like its Viper predecessor, the Eclipse appears to be a multiple chipset design. But unlike the Viper, the Eclipse is absent SVDO. Furthermore, the FCC OET filing includes requisite CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800 ERP/EIRP figures but lacks LTE 1900 EIRP figures. So, do not hold your breath for a release date. We will leave it to other sources to speculate/report on the ergonomics and other technical attributes of the upcoming LG device. But we expect that LG and its authorized testing lab will have to file supplemental results before the supposed Eclipse makes its way into the hands of eager Sprint subscribers.   Source: FCC

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

 

Louisville/West Kentucky appears to be a late Second Round Network Vision/LTE deployment market

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 9:39 AM MDT   S4GRU has recently been apprised of some additional Network Vision information. As you may recall, when Sprint originally announced Network Vision details and explained their change to LTE for its 4G technology, Sprint also said that planning/design/permitting is under way at the first 22,000 sites. S4GRU was able to obtain the information about these first 22,000 sites last Spring and we have received several updates since. Now we have planning information on the first 24,000 sites.   In perusing the last update we received, we noticed a new market that we have not discussed before. That is West Kentucky. So now it appears that Louisville and the West Kentucky market are making a play for an earlier start.   Louisville/West Kentucky. There are over 360 sites in the West Kentucky Sprint market. West Kentucky  The West Kentucky market is included in Sprint's initial 24,000 sites planning. However, in a cross check with the NV schedule, this market has all its dates as "TBD." It's quite possible since all the planning and permitting for this market will be done in advance, it may actually be moved up to the end of the second round.   I would interpret that TBD means that they are finalizing the Network Vision schedule for this market. We cannot say with any certainty at this time. This should be seen as good news though for the folks living in the West Kentucky market.   We do not have any more details than this to report at this time. S4GRU will keep pushing for all the latest information for you on Sprint's Network Vision and LTE Depolyment. Stay tuned to S4GRU.com for breaking Network Vision news.   Photo of Downtown Louisville courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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S4GRU Compares our LTE Coverage Map with Sprint's in St. Joseph, Missouri

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, August 3, 2012 - 4:25 PM MDT   There has been a lot of discussion around our forums, and certainly in many other places, how Sprint's LTE coverage maps of launched markets have been pretty overly optimistic. To say it nicely. Today I decided to create some LTE coverage maps for St. Joseph, Missouri for our members usage, and for grins, I pulled up the Sprint LTE coverage map for the same area. The difference is pretty noticeable. In our map, we used data that we have from Sprint about each of the live sites, including tower height and downtilt. So we can enter in as accurate information as possible. We use the coverage creators that are provided from our friends at CloudRF.com. You can see the differences below.   S4GRU St. Joseph LTE Coverage Map. In the map above, you can see the LTE coverages for Sprint from the live sites in the area. This was produced by S4GRU using CloudRF.com. Green denotes Sprint 4G LTE Coverage area.   Sprint St. Joseph LTE Coverage Map. In this map you can see the LTE coverage as reported from coverage.sprint.com over the same area. Orange denotes Sprint 4G LTE Coverage area.   We recognize that this is far from a scientific analysis. The data used to create our map is accurate, however we are dependent on the modeling used by the coverage generator at CloudRF. We feel that CloudRF though has been very accurate in previous analyses we have conducted including our own field verification tests. So we feel pretty confident in our results posted here. It appears that Sprint has indeed posted very flattering LTE coverage in its maps so far. At least in regards to St. Joe. However, this was already supported by dozens of comments by our members as well. For the time being, I would not consider using Sprint's LTE coverage maps for very defined coverage of a specific neighborhood or street, but rather just to know if they have some live sites in a general area.   EDIT 6:30 PM MDT: S4GRU Writer, A.J. Shepherd, was in St. Joe this evening and reported a new live site that was not on our maps. We have added it and changed the coverages to reflect this recent addition.     FURTHER READING FOR S4GRU SPONSORS: We have an interactive version of our St. Joseph coverage map in our Sponsor section, and have a discussion thread posted there.

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Ft. Wayne/South Bend Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule update

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - 7:35 AM MDT   The final market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is...Fort Wayne/South Bend. This market has yet to be announced by Sprint, and may not be announced until as late as this Fall.   The Sprint Ft. Wayne/South Bend market covers most of Northern Indiana, except for the NW corner which is in the Chicago market. This includes Fort Wayne, South Bend, Mishawaka, Elkhart, Goshen, Marion, Logansport, Warsaw and Plymouth. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Samsung is scheduled to begin mobilizing their subcontractors around the market in November. The first completed Network Vision sites are scheduled to start coming online before the end of that month.   Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in February, these are the anticipated sites that would likely have LTE complete at that time. This would provide fairly good LTE coverage over many parts of the market.   Schedule details and the bottom line   Sprint has not yet selected a date to formally "launch" LTE service in Northern Indiana. It is difficult to try to pick a date now this far out, but we have attempted to do that. In looking at the schedule as of today, it would indicate a February market launch (going on a 40% - 50% completion for launch). But there is no way to know if Samsung and their subcontractors will actually hit their schedule dates before deployment in this market begins. We will be able to gauge better after a few months of production is achieved.   Samsung needs to hit a production rate of approximately 25 sites per month to stay on schedule. This is a below normal production rate when compared to other markets. They shouldn't have any schedule issues with the appropriate amount of resources allocated.   S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by April 2013. However, there may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion. Photo of Fort Wayne provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.   NOTE: S4GRU Sponsor Members can track regular updates of Network Vision sites completed nationwide. Completed sites are shown in an interactive Google Maps interface. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship

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