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And the Band 41 marches on...in the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for Sprint

S4GRU

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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5:55 PM MDT

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The news so many of our members have been eagerly awaiting...the announcement of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus occurred today. A LOT of information has been leaked out the previous weeks. More than I can ever remember from an Apple product. But some new information did come out today. And of most interest to our readers, is YES, Sprint Band 41 is supported. Welcome to Spark, our beloved iPhoniacs. Your wait for that is over.

 

Typically, FCC OET device articles are written by the S4GRU Technical Editor AJ Shepherd or his protege Josh McDaniel. But given tight publishing deadlines and even tighter work schedules, yours truly will take a stab at it. I pored through the Office of Engineering & Technology website to bring you these details.

 

A Band for everyone...well, almost

 

The number of LTE bands that all the new iPhone 6 variants support is staggering. Even supporting a few more than the Moto X+1 we told you about earlier today. The Sprint Model iPhone 6 (A1586) and iPhone 6 Plus (A1524) support 20 LTE bands! Including 4 TDD LTE bands, like Band 41. Sadly, all iPhone 6 variants do omit support for Band 12. So on Sprint that will limit some of the upcoming CCA rural LTE roaming (not to mention the sadness of Tmo subscribers for missing B12).

 

Sprint has announced that it is moving to have its devices support LTE roaming on its partner networks in the CCA and Sprint's RRPP program. The new iPhone 6s cover all these new partner bands, like B4, B5 and B17. Just missing B12. The Moto X+1 will be the first Sprint device to support B12 roaming. iPhone users will likely need to wait until next year's iPhone 6s refresh to get Band 12 access.

 

But the most exciting information is that the Sprint models of the new iPhone 6s both support Band 41. So now you data hungry iPhone users can start spreading your loads on the Spark network. Since the Spark network has a lot of capacity, and a lot of ability to add even more capacity (more than any other provider), the ability of iPhone users to use this band is extremely important. It may even start to alleviate some of the burden off Band 25, where many iPhone users now are stuck. But that may not be very likely as the uniband and dualband iPhones from previous years get traded in and handed down to offspring.

 

ERP/EIRP numbers to help anticipate RF performance

 

Below find the maximum ERP/EIRP Numbers for the LTE Bands relevant to the Sprint variant:

  • Band 25
    • 5 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.18dBm
    • 3 MHZ FDD channels: max EIRP 23.07dBm
    • 10 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.14dBm

    [*]Band 26

    • 5 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 19.00dBm
    • 3 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 18.85dBm

    [*]Band 41 (Spark)

    • 20 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.86dBm
    • 15 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 32.00dBm
    • 10 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.97dBm
    • 5 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.65dBm

    [*]Band 4 (Roaming)

    • 5 MHz channel - 23.97dBm
    • 10 MHz channel - 23.96dBm
    • 15 MHz channel - 23.99dBm
    • 20 MHz channel - 23.88dBm

    [*]Band 17 (Roaming)

    • 5 MHz channel - 23.98dBm
    • 10 MHz channel - 23.99dBm

NOTE: This is using the better antenna, on the best channel in the band, and with robust QPSK modulation. Although Sprint currently does not use B25 3MHz or 10MHz channels, nor B26 3MHz channels, nor B41 5, 10 or 15MHz channels, they were included for interest as it is plausible that Sprint could use these in the future at some point.

 

Simultaneous Voice/Data and VoLTE

 

As always, a hot question is whether the Sprint variants of the iPhone 6 support simultaneous voice and data. And the answer is...no. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus do not support simultaneous voice on CDMA2000 networks. So neither the Verizon nor Sprint variant can do simultaneous voice and data using CDMA1X voice. Just like the previous CDMA2000 iPhone models.

 

The Verizon version will support simultaneous voice and data on VoLTE. Verizon is just beginning to deploy its VoLTE network. Sprint will not begin deploying VoLTE (Voice over LTE) until mid-2015 at the earliest. It is not known if the Sprint variant can receive a software update in the future to enable VoLTE on Sprint iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when Sprint VoLTE starts to go live next year. In the mean time, Sprint iPhone users will only be able to use voice and data at the same time over Wi-Fi.

 

Carrier Aggregation/LTE Advanced Support

 

And the last point to cover is Carrier Aggregation. Yes, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus do support Carrier Aggregation (an LTE Advanced feature). However, this new iPhone is only limited to 20 MHz total aggregation.

 

So the iPhone 6 can aggregate two 5 MHz channels (5+5). And it can aggregate two 10 MHz channels (10+10). However, the total of the downlink channels cannot be greater than 20 MHz. So the iPhone 6 cannot bond two 15 MHz channels or do a 20+20 combination (because these exceed 20 MHz total downlink).

 

Since Sprint is only deploying Carrier Aggregation (LTE Advanced) to its Band 41 (Spark) network at this time, the iPhone 6 cannot handle that. This is due to Sprint currently only deploying B41 in wideband 20 MHz carrier widths. So the minimum two carriers being aggregated for Sprint would be 40 MHz wide, far exceeding the capability of the iPhone 6. The same is true of Verizon and T-Mobile wideband channels. They cannot do Carrier Aggregation on the iPhone 6 either on wideband. Of the big four, only AT&T currently has no wideband LTE carriers (i.e. none that exceed 10 MHz).

 

Conclusion

 

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer some pretty good ERP/EIRP numbers for Sprint customers, especially in Band 41 Spark. We expect some good and meaningful RF field results from our members soon. With Sprint announcing a new unlimited plan to lease a new iPhone 6 (16GB) for only $50 per month, some people are going to find a Sprint iPhone model irresistible.

 

And, as always, you can already start making your wish list for the presumed iPhone 6S next September. For wireless network enthusiasts like us, 40 MHz or 60 MHz Carrier Aggregation in Band 41 and support for Band 12 are at the top of most of our lists.

 

Oh yeah, and there was something about a wristwatch...

 

Source: FCC

 

 

 

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EDIT: Removed Carrier Aggregation limitation of equal sized channels............................................

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Excellent writeup Robert! Thanks for interpreting the FCC documents that AJ posted earlier. I went through them and had literally no idea what I was looking at so I gave up.

 

Glad to see that the 6 is such a good performer on b41, considering how crucial b41 is. 

 

Edit: Are there any other devices that have comparable RF performance for b41. 

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Great write up Robert!! With the band 41 support, the new iPhone for life leasing plan and the amount of 8t8r antennas deployed...I won't be surprised if sprint will announce a handful of spark markets by next friday!

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Small correction. iPhone 6 with MDM9625 is capable of aggregating two component carriers of unequal size, for example 10MHz + 5MHz. There are quite a few commercial AT&T units with the same chipset already aggregating 10+5 in selected markets.

 

As you've already mentioned, what's not possible is aggregating more than 20MHz in total, and considering that Sprint's B41 in it's current deployment is a single 20MHz channel, adding a secondary TDD 20MHz channel wouldn't increase peak throughput for iPhone 6 users, as the phone isn't capable of aggregating two 20MHz carriers.

 

If Sprint deploys a secondary 20MHz B41 carrier this year, subscribers will still benefit as the load would be balanced between two different capacity channels. Only the peak throughput wouldn't be doubled for iPhone 6 users.

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Small correction. iPhone 6 with MDM9625 is capable of aggregating two component carriers of unequal size, for example 10MHz + 5MHz. There are quite a few commercial AT&T units with the same chipset already aggregating 10+5 in selected markets..

 

Milan, I will go back and double check the OET documents.  I thought I read equal in the results.  In my haste to be quick, I may have misread or assumed.  Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

 

Robert

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If sprint were to aggregate 2 PCS carriers...would the iPhone 6/6plus support it?

 

Yes, most likely.  But it will Sprint will have to complete the necessary upgrades to take their current B25 deployment to Release 10 in order to be able to make Carrier Aggregation possible for B25.

 

Currently, that would only be helpful in Chicago.  But more markets will have two B25 carriers into the Fall and Winter.  However, B41 will me available in most of those markets negating some of the benefits of B25 CA.

 

Robert

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Edit: Are there any other devices that have comparable RF performance for b41. 

 

For the most part, these EiRP results are pretty good, with the B41 being very good.

 

Robert

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Small correction. iPhone 6 with MDM9625 is capable of aggregating two component carriers of unequal size, for example 10MHz + 5MHz.

 

I've gone through and could not find any CA testing on the Sprint variant at all.  So either Apple never bothered to even enable CA support in Model A1586/A1524 at all (even though the MDM9625 is capable) or they just never bothered to have it tested since none of the Providers using this model planned to offer CA in less than 20MHz total bonded carrier widths.

 

Since the MDM9625 is capable of supporting unequal size carrier bonding, I have edited the article accordingly.  Thanks.

Robert

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Informative article, good for Apple!  i hope for a similar evaluation here of the Samsung Note 4 in the next few weeks.

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I've gone through and could not find any CA testing on the Sprint variant at all.  So either Apple never bothered to even enable CA support in Model A1586/A1524 at all (even though the MDM9625 is capable) or they just never bothered to have it tested since none of the Providers using this model planned to offer CA in less than 20MHz total bonded carrier widths.

 

Since the MDM9625 is capable of supporting unequal size carrier bonding, I have edited the article accordingly.  Thanks.

Robert

Apple's announced CA during the Keynote, it's also mentioned on their website. It is also in the FCC filings, but since there is no aggregation on the uplink, they haven't listed the results. The emission is exactly the same as the PCC on any two band combination.

 

What's really going to be useful for Sprint's users is access to iOS FieldTest.app, where we can see the amount of Tx antennas at the cell site. This way we can hunt for 8T8R sites that sites are transmitting in a 4x2 MIMO configuration.

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Apple's announced CA during the Keynote, it's also mentioned on their website. It is also in the FCC filings, but since there is no aggregation on the uplink, they haven't listed the results. The emission is exactly the same as the PCC on any two band combination.

 

What's really going to be useful for Sprint's users is access to iOS FieldTest.app, where we can see the amount of Tx antennas at the cell site. This way we can hunt for 8T8R sites that sites are transmitting in a 4x2 MIMO configuration.

 

To date, most of the FCC OET entries I've seen for Android devices entail the Carrier Aggregation bandwidth/bands supported.  It's too bad Apple did not do that as wel in their filingl.  But I suppose it's to be expected that they would not include data that is not required.

 

Robert

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Is this phone going to be able to unlock?! Better resell value if that happens =D

 

Sprint has said they will unlock iPhones after off contract or subsidies have been paid for.  But they say they are unable to get the iPhone to work on other domestic carriers due to OEM constraints beyond their control.  Currently, Sprint iPhones will only work internationally when SIM unlocked.  Sprint does commit to doing this on all future devices after February 2015, though.  That would not include the iPhone 6/6+, though.

 

Robert

 

For eligible devices, Sprint will unlock the SIM slot, to the extent that a device SIM slot is capable of being unlocked. It is important to note that not all devices are capable of being unlocked, often because of the manufacturers' device designs, and that even for those devices capable of being unlocked, not all device functionality may be capable of being unlocked. Specifically, devices manufactured with a SIM slot within the past three years (including, but not limited to, all Apple iPhone devices), cannot be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier's SIM for use on another domestic carrier's network. Sprint has no technological process available to do this. In accordance with Sprint's voluntary commitment contained within CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service ("Unlocking Commitment"), Sprint is working to ensure that all devices developed and launched on or after February 11, 2015, are capable of being unlocked domestically.

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To date, most of the FCC OET entries I've seen for Android devices entail the Carrier Aggregation bandwidth/bands supported.  It's too bad Apple did not do that as wel in their filingl.  But I suppose it's to be expected that they would not include data that is not required.

 

Robert

I'm sure it has a lot to do with the amount of bands the phone supports. 20 bands total, and 9 US specific LTE bands. Combining any two bands (out of 9) and then inverting PCC for SCC would take forever, and would involve pages and pages of testing. It's a ridiculous amount.

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It's a ridiculous amount.

 

I'm sure Apple can get a few free interns and make that happen.  Just to make me happy.  Don't they know who I think I am???   :ty: 

 

Robert

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To date, most of the FCC OET entries I've seen for Android devices entail the Carrier Aggregation bandwidth/bands supported.  It's too bad Apple did not do that as wel in their filingl.  But I suppose it's to be expected that they would not include data that is not required.

 

Robert

 

Samsung, LG, and Netgear have been very good in at least listing LTE Carrier Aggregation pairs in FCC docs. However, HTC (a la M8) and Moto (See recent Moto X) are other manufacturers that have not listed LTE CA pairs in their FCC docs.

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Glad to see that the 6 is such a good performer on b41, considering how crucial b41 is. 

 

Edit: Are there any other devices that have comparable RF performance for b41. 

 

I have never seen any Band 41 Sprint device with that high of a dBm measurement. Of course, I haven't looked at the MotoX 2014 documents yet.

 

For the most part, these EiRP results are pretty good, with the B41 being very good.

 

Robert

 

Bands 25 & 26 are par with most devices (between 20 and 24 dBm), but Band 41 is out of this world. I wonder if that was stipulated between Apple & Sprint in early testing, because Sprint is setting Band 41 as their go to LTE band.

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Sprint unlocked my wife's iPhone 5S, so no reason to think why that policy would get stricter.  I only wish that 6/6+ were sold already unlocked like VZ models.

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Small correction. iPhone 6 with MDM9625 is capable of aggregating two component carriers of unequal size, for example 10MHz + 5MHz. There are quite a few commercial AT&T units with the same chipset already aggregating 10+5 in selected markets.

 

As you've already mentioned, what's not possible is aggregating more than 20MHz in total, and considering that Sprint's B41 in it's current deployment is a single 20MHz channel, adding a secondary TDD 20MHz channel wouldn't increase peak throughput for iPhone 6 users, as the phone isn't capable of aggregating two 20MHz carriers.

 

If Sprint deploys a secondary 20MHz B41 carrier this year, subscribers will still benefit as the load would be balanced between two different capacity channels. Only the peak throughput wouldn't be doubled for iPhone 6 users.

Mind blow if you think about having multiple B41 channels.  That in itself would be amazing.

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Now I am wondering, will sprint allow us to order the phone from the Apple website or Sprint Website on easy pay, or will they make us visit a Sprint store daily until they have one in stock. 

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Again, the wider the channel, whether natively or through carrier aggregation, the more the power consumption. Of course, the larger the bandwidth the faster you will download that huge file, so ... :) there is that!

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OK, so here's what I don't get... If A1586 has all the bands that A1549 has, plus the TDD LTE bands, then why make two models and not just go with A1586 for everyone?

 

As for this...

 

Sprint has said they will unlock iPhones after off contract or subsidies have been paid for.  But they say they are unable to get the iPhone to work on other domestic carriers due to OEM constraints beyond their control.  Currently, Sprint iPhones will only work internationally when SIM unlocked.  Sprint does commit to doing this on all future devices after February 2015, though.  That would not include the iPhone 6/6+, though.

 

Robert

 

My personal feeling is that, at least for recent devices, if Sprint really wanted to be able to unlock devices for domestic use they and the OEMs could come up with a solution to do so but they choose not to (at least not until the "magic" date of 2-11-2015). In other words, I don't really think it's an OEM restriction like Sprint claims, but rather Sprint's choice not to pursue it at this point.

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Again, the wider the channel, whether natively or through carrier aggregation, the more the power consumption. Of course, the larger the bandwidth the faster you will download that huge file, so ... :) there is that!

Contiguous wide 20MHz channel has absolutely no impact on battery life vs the smaller 5MHz for instance.

 

Aggregating two component carriers via Carrier Aggregation will definitely impact the battery life.

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