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UMTS/WCDMA 850MHz disabled on the Sprint Galaxy S4. Why?

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Even though the Sprint Samsung Galaxy S4 passed the FCC with UMTS/WCDMA 850MHz, it appears that the band has been disabled for use domestically and internationally and the device will only support UMTS 1900/2100 outside the US. Anyone know why would Sprint do that?

 

p.s. I have a nagging suspicion that Sprint asked HTC to do the same on the One but for the life of me I can't figure out why Sprint would care. If anything, it may reduce their own potential roaming revenue.

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Sprint doesn't have any WCDMA roaming partners. All their roaming accords are CDMA 1X/EV-DO carriers. The advent of rural WCDMA carriers is a fairly recent phenomenon here in the US IIRC. Some GSM carriers are still, um, all GSM. :(

 

So, with no WCDMA carriers to roam on, and Sprint using CDMA in Canada, Sprint disables WCDMA to make sure GS4's don't end up on AT&T. That would be my best guess.

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Sprint doesn't have any WCDMA roaming partners. All their roaming accords are CDMA 1X/EV-DO carriers. The advent of rural WCDMA carriers is a fairly recent phenomenon here in the US IIRC. Some GSM carriers are still, um, all GSM. :(

 

So, with no WCDMA carriers to roam on, and Sprint using CDMA in Canada, Sprint disables WCDMA to make sure GS4's don't end up on AT&T. That would be my best guess.

 

Not sure I buy this as a viable theory because:

 

-I doubt Sprint's GSM roaming agreements make a distinction between GSM and WCDMA, they just get billed as data by their partners, to which Sprint adds a hefty markup. In other words, i don't think with with most international GSM carriers Sprint has separate agreements for GSM and for WCDMA. Most GSM carriers are pushing as much of their networks to WCDMA anyway due to spectral efficiency issues.

 

-They did not disable WCDMA 1900 or 2100. Remember also that both AT&T and T-Mobile use WCDMA 1900.

 

-AT&T is not a factor anyway as Sprint always blocks out US GSM/WCDMA reception regardless of band.

Edited by GoWireless

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Maybe the Sprint billing system is not compatible with UMTS/GSM roaming.

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Maybe the Sprint billing system is not compatible with UMTS/GSM roaming.

 

I'm afraid it is definitely not that. Sprint has offered international GSM roaming for many years now. Plus remember, Sprint only disabled UMTS 850, it still left UMTS 1900 and 2100 active in the device.

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What about t the other bands used around the world? Or is it just 1900 and 2100?

 

 

 

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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What about t the other bands used around the world? Or is it just 1900 and 2100?

 

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2

 

As far as 3G is concerned, those are the only two bands available in the device. It does have quadband GSM, but the data is only 2G speeds, meaning it's not a viable solution for data on a smartphone but it'd do for voice. There are also some operators out there that are UMTS/WCDMA-only. If those rely heavily on UMTS 850, that means they wouldn't be a viable carrier for both voice and data to roam or use a foreign SIM on.

 

The device also doesn't have UMTS 900 but I would say it is less widely deployed compared to UMTS 850.

 

It is true that in many networks that have UMTS 850 also have UMTS 1900 or 2100 but the lower frequency's longer cell reach and better building penetration makes it the main band that carriers rely on in many places.

 

Verizon for example does not disable this band in their UMTS capable devices and neither did Sprint in those SIM possesing devices which supported it before LTE. UMTS/WCDMA 850/1900/2100 is a very common triband combination for US-based GSM capable devices. Not sure why Sprint has decided to buck that common functionality.

Edited by GoWireless

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Perhaps it is something Sprint can unlock upon request when travelling internationally to an area that uses those frequencies?

 

Robert via Nexus 7 with Tapatalk HD

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Perhaps it is something Sprint can unlock upon request when travelling internationally to an area that uses those frequencies?

 

Robert via Nexus 7 with Tapatalk HD

 

Not likely. What is likely is that the device will come SIM locked like the HTC One is and you would need to call Sprint to request an unlock code for it. That would unlock all the available GSM/WCDMA functions on the phone for use overseas but there isn't a specific unlock code to unlock one particular band.

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Not likely. What is likely is that the device will come SIM locked like the HTC One is and you would need to call Sprint to request an unlock code for it. That would unlock all the available GSM/WCDMA functions on the phone for use overseas but there isn't a specific unlock code to unlock one particular band.

 

I actually went online the day after I got the HTC ONE, and under the quick settings for the phone it had the SIM Unlock code.

 

 

-Luis

 

 

Nevermind, I just checked again and it says PIN1/PUK1 unlock code, not sure if that would be similar to SIM Unlock.

 

So I googled what those codes are for and it has nothing to to with what you were talking about... Sorry :P

Edited by Mondays In Flames

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I looked on Samsung's website and they have the following for sprint variant of the GS4:

 

Frequencies and Data Type LTE: Band 25; CDMA 1x/EVDO Rev.A: 800/850/1900MHz; HSPA+/UMTS: 850/900/1900/2100MHz; GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz

 

Calling sprint is useless as the word "frequency" or "band" usually instantly confuses and reps I've spoken to... 

 

Are we sure that this band is disabled?

 

I want to use my phone on Orange in Israel and based on my research uses GSM 900/1800 frequency and UMTS technology. Do you think it will work? 

 

Also, I use CyanogenMod on my phone. I know I probably need to be on touchwiz ROM for unlocking when I call Sprint, but can I use CM after I'm already unlocked? There is a setting to enable LTE/CDMA/EvDo/GSM/WCDMA in preferred network mode and I can change my CDMA subscription from NV to RUIM/SIM. Does anyone have experience with this? Much appreciated

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I looked on Samsung's website and they have the following for sprint variant of the GS4:

 

Frequencies and Data Type LTE: Band 25; CDMA 1x/EVDO Rev.A: 800/850/1900MHz; HSPA+/UMTS: 850/900/1900/2100MHz; GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz[/size]

 

Calling sprint is useless as the word "frequency" or "band" usually instantly confuses and reps I've spoken to... 

 

Are we sure that this band is disabled?

 

I want to use my phone on Orange in Israel and based on my research uses GSM 900/1800 frequency and UMTS technology. Do you think it will work? [/size]

 

Also, I use CyanogenMod on my phone. I know I probably need to be on touchwiz ROM for unlocking when I call Sprint, but can I use CM after I'm already unlocked? There is a setting to enable LTE/CDMA/EvDo/GSM/WCDMA in preferred network mode and I can change my CDMA subscription from NV to RUIM/SIM. Does anyone have experience with this? Much appreciated[/size]

Initially the Samsung spec. page omitted UMTS 850 and 900 and has since been updated. However, several sources did confirm to me that 850 was disabled and 900 not included so at this point I am not sure what the device truly supports. All of this is sort of moot and impossible to confirm anyway because Sprint doesn't appear to have a working method to GSM unlock the S4 (or HTC One for that matter) yet.

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Initially the Samsung spec. page omitted UMTS 850 and 900 and has since been updated. However, several sources did confirm to me that 850 was disabled and 900 not included so at this point I am not sure what the device truly supports. All of this is sort of moot and impossible to confirm anyway because Sprint doesn't appear to have a working method to GSM unlock the S4 (or HTC One for that matter) yet.

 

Interesting.. 

 

What do you think about this method?

 

http://www.redmondpie.com/how-to-sim-unlock-samsung-galaxy-s4-gt-i9505-for-free/

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Update: Sprint seems to have finally managed to figure out how to unlock the S4 and the One.

 

Henceforth, I have gotten my S4 unlocked. I do have a foreign carrier's SIM I can try but in my area (SE Va.), Verizon hogs the entire cellular band (as a reult of the Alltel acquisition) and so even if I could get the device to pick up American providers' signals, it'd be on 1900 and so I wouldn't be able to tell if UMTS 850 is disabled.

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Great. Sprint has told me that I am unlocked, and I did do the Unlock UICC on my phone menu, which gave me a confirmation.

 

Browsing the *#0011# menu, i noticed the 850 band is there, so I'm thinking it should work while I am abroad. Also have heard people are able to use GSM Mode on AOSP ROMs via the *#*#4636#*#* menu and changing to GSM only. 

 

Is there a way to check that my phone is unlocked through one of these menu's without a GSM SIM Card? I really don't want to get abroad and find out I'm unable to use my phone. 

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Browsing the *#0011# menu, i noticed the 850 band is there, so I'm thinking it should work while I am abroad. Also have heard people are able to use GSM Mode on AOSP ROMs via the *#*#4636#*#* menu and changing to GSM only. 

 

Some of what you propose has been known to bork automatic roaming, not to mention the ability to use Sprint's CDMA1X 800 overlay currently under construction.  When you return to the US, you could end up with only a partly functional handset.

 

Thus, do so at your own risk, and accept responsibility for your own actions.

 

AJ

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Great. Sprint has told me that I am unlocked, and I did do the Unlock UICC on my phone menu, which gave me a confirmation.

 

Browsing the *#0011# menu, i noticed the 850 band is there, so I'm thinking it should work while I am abroad. Also have heard people are able to use GSM Mode on AOSP ROMs via the *#*#4636#*#* menu and changing to GSM only. 

 

Is there a way to check that my phone is unlocked through one of these menu's without a GSM SIM Card? I really don't want to get abroad and find out I'm unable to use my phone.

 

How long ago did you get the unlock done? I ask because Sprint only recently fixed the unlock issue. Prior to that users got the confirmation that their device was unlocked after pressing 'unlock UICC' after reciving the OTA but the device actually remained locked (to the dismay of several folks on the XDA forum who went overseas thinking that they were unlocked when in fact they weren't).

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Some of what you propose has been known to bork automatic roaming, not to mention the ability to use Sprint's CDMA1X 800 overlay currently under construction.  When you return to the US, you could end up with only a partly functional handset.

 

Thus, do so at your own risk, and accept responsibility for your own actions.

 

AJ

 

How could I tell if my 800 MHz is not functional? Which proposed steps can cause this?

 

How long ago did you get the unlock done? I ask because Sprint only recently fixed the unlock issue. Prior to that users got the confirmation that their device was unlocked after pressing 'unlock UICC' after reciving the OTA but the device actually remained locked (to the dismay of several folks on the XDA forum who went overseas thinking that they were unlocked when in fact they weren't).

 

I received a call this morning from a sprint CSR that they have unlocked my phone. Trying to order my international SIM delivered to the US so I can make sure it works before I leave.

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I received a call this morning from a sprint CSR that they have unlocked my phone. Trying to order my international SIM delivered to the US so I can make sure it works before I leave.

If you just did it this recently then you should be fine. You could even put an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM in there and you will no longer get the "invalid SIM" warning. However, while the phone will register on T-Mobile or AT&T, you will only be allowed to make emergency calls.

 

How did you tell you we're on UMTS 850? Did you change the mode to GSM/UMTS and then run the RF menu? If so, did it say "GSM850" or "Band 4"? In any case, unfortunately, that still doesn't prove 100% that Sprint didn't set the band to allow something besides emergency only use. The only way to tell 100% I think would be to use the phone on a foriegn carrier that uses UMTS 850 and see that you can get on that band in unrestricted mode.

 

Unfortunately, I don't know a full proof way to say for sure that your phone is unlocked until you get overseas. One would hope that with the fiasco they went through with the unlock that they did in fact fix this problem once and for all.

 

BTW, what country are you going to?

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I didn't actually connect to 850, was just browsing menus in*#0011# and saw that gsm 850 is listed there.

 

I'm going to Israel and I believe they have 850 there, so will let you know if it works.

 

How can I tell what band I am connected to? Also what steps did I mention that could break CDMA800? Want to make sure I didn't mess anything up. Is there a radio image I can flash to restore defaults?

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I didn't actually connect to 850, was just browsing menus in*#0011# and saw that gsm 850 is listed there.

 

I'm going to Israel and I believe they have 850 there, so will let you know if it works.

 

How can I tell what band I am connected to? Also what steps did I mention that could break CDMA800? Want to make sure I didn't mess anything up. Is there a radio image I can flash to restore defaults?

 

Attached is what I see on stock when I issue *#0011#. This is with the Sprint SIM left in the device and after changing the the network type to GSM/UMTS. As you can see, the phone is getting on AT&T's network using UMTS1900. You can tell by it saying "Band 2", occasionally I will get it to go on T-Mobile and it will say "PCS 1900", meaning GSM 1900. As you can see though, it says limited service, meaning I can only make emergency calls. I have also tried it with a provisioned AT&T SIM and it still said "limited". What does it show for you on CM10?

 

As for Israel and UMTS 850...

 

There are three main cell providers in Israel. These are their 3G UMTS bands:

 

Pelephone: 850 (primary), 2100 (secondary). BTW, they do not do 2G GSM, also I think they may still have their old CDMA network up so if you leave your phone on CDMA it will try to roam on it.

Cellcom: 2100 (primary), 850 (secondary).

Orange: 2100 (primary), 900 (secondary).

 

If you could get your phone to provide you with coverage with which you could make a call there and you could figure out how to show which band you are on using CM, please let us know if you can get on UMTS 850 or 900. On Cellcom or Orange you may need to be deep inside a building for that to happen since the "low" bands are secondary for them. On Pelephone I would think it would happen most of the time since UMTS 850 is their primary band.

 

BTW, all three providers have excellent and inexpensive prepaid options, though depending on how long you'd be there, one provider's offerings may be better than another's. I would recommend getting a "plan" refill card rather than a value/amount refill card. Depending on the company and card, they can usually give you unlimited usage for a certain number of days, say  2, 7, 14 or 30 days which is more convienent than trying to figure out how many minutes+bonus minutes you'd be getting with the stored value cards. For example, on Cellcom you can get a 7-day unlimited domestic calls and texts + 250MB web for $13 (49NIS). SIMs can be purchased in many kiosks and post offices and usually run around $10-$15. All three companies have excellent coverage thoroughout the country.

 

For calling back to the 'States I would recommend localphone.com (I would recommend them for intl' calls from the US too). They give you free local numbers for each of your contacts and they also have a traditional pin/pinless calling option. They also support SIP calling and have their own android app.

post-2440-0-57092400-1370726441_thumb.png

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Wow thanks for all the info!

 

Cm doesn't have this screen unfortunately. I'll play it safe and use a touchwiz rom while I'm abroad. Not too big of a deal.

 

I'll be there for 30 days so I'm going to go with the 30 days + 2gb data. Not bad at about 40 bucks.

 

This website has it for about 60 bucks (http://prepaidisraelisim.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=64_67&product_id=86). I'm guessing the 20 bucks is their fee for the card. Or I could just buy it there for 10 bucks then call in and add the plan through orange. Will keep you posted on my findings. Leave in about a week.

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Wow thanks for all the info!

 

Cm doesn't have this screen unfortunately. I'll play it safe and use a touchwiz rom while I'm abroad. Not too big of a deal.

 

I'll be there for 30 days so I'm going to go with the 30 days + 2gb data. Not bad at about 40 bucks.

 

This website has it for about 60 bucks (http://prepaidisraelisim.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=64_67&product_id=86). I'm guessing the 20 bucks is their fee for the card. Or I could just buy it there for 10 bucks then call in and add the plan through orange. Will keep you posted on my findings. Leave in about a week.

 

Yes, it looks like they are doing a 50% mark-up.  The actual cost of this package "on the street" is 150 NIS (last item on this page: http://www.orange.co.il/he-il/cellular/service_plans/bigtalk_cards/ ) plus, they are also charging 50%-100% more for the SIM card. Not too bad for them :D

 

For a one month's stay, Orange's deal is probably the best around. (Post-paid, a similar package goes for about 100 NIS but for one month it's not worth messing with that. The post paid packages do generally include a larger data allotment and free unlimited international calls though.) All of this is thanks to a new company called Golan Telecom ( https://www.golantelecom.co.il/web/index.php , also known as "Free Mobile" in France) which started providing services in Israel last year and completely upended the entire wireless market there, bringing prices down across all providers by 60%-70%. They do not do prepaid at this point, but will sell post-paid packages to tourists - convenient if you were going to stay a while.

 

Orange's UMTS 900 deployment is fairly recent and thus not that widely deployed but if you do pick up a usable signal, do let us know as that will confirm UMTS 900 support. The AT&T and T-Mobile S4 variants BTW do not support UMTS 900.

 

Anyhoo, hope you have a nice trip!

Edited by GoWireless

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Thanks for all the info.

 

So I was very eager to check that my unlock worked because of all the problems people were having with unlocking previously. I dont have a GSM phone, but then I remembered my Verizon work phone, iPhone 4S has a micro SIM that I thought could work in my phone even though Verizon is a CDMA Carrier. So I thought what the hell and put it in. BOOM GSM850!

 

Hope this is enough to validate that UMTS850 should be working. I know I don't have a "3g" icon and it says GSM850 not UMTS850 but since I'm using a US SIM and the phone isn't unlocked in the US my phone shows no service as yours does. 

 

Also, I'm assuming this means that I am unlocked and should be good to go once I buy a SIM outside of the US.

 

Lastly, my uncle was asking me to buy him an S4 in the states for use in Israel because it is much cheaper here. If I buy an ATT or T-mobile one are those able to be unlocked without calling ATT or do I have to buy the factory unlocked international version?

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