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Sprint intentionally blocking new LTE devices from accessing live LTE sites

Posted by S4GRU, in Author: Robert Herron 23 April 2012 · 20,511 views

Sprint Network Vision LTE Devices
Sprint intentionally blocking new LTE devices from accessing live LTE sites by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 6:14 PM MDT


Sprint 4G Rollout Updates is keeping track of all the live LTE sites in the country.  And as of last Friday, there are now approximately 200 LTE sites that are "On-Air."  S4GRU's AJ Shepherd even has verified some of these LTE sites are live using his spectrum analyzer.  Sprint is indeed broadcasting LTE on PCS G-Block, just as we are indicating.

S4GRU.com is now able to confirm why new Sprint LTE device holders are unable to connect to live LTE sites in Waco, Dallas/Ft.Worth, Atlanta, Athens, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio.  Sprint is intentionally blocking LTE access at this time.  The reasons why they are doing this aren't totally clear.

LTE Testing mode is not for you, folks

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Sprint is keeping sites that are on the air, but identified as "testing" from being discoverable by Sprint LTE devices.  As they deem each site is ready to carry commercial traffic, they will change the LTE site from testing mode to commercial mode.  At that time, they will become discoverable to LTE device holders.

Sprint recently considered two different ways to block their customers from accessing the LTE network.  Either by creating a special PLMN ID, or by modifying the SIB 1 message to notify the LTE device the "Cell is Reserved for Operator Use."  Using the PLMN method was figured to be too problematic, because the network only is capable of two PLMN ID's currently, which would limit other PLMN ID uses in the future.  So Sprint is blocking your LTE devices from cruising the 4G LTE network by modifying the SIB 1 message being broadcast from the LTE site to "Reserved."  When your device gets that message, it will not try to authenticate with the network.  And you are none the wiser that your device is getting a 4G LTE signal that it is not allowed to use.  When Sprint is ready to allow a LTE site to be discoverable, they will remove the reserved classification from the SIB 1 message...and voila!

Why???

I guess the big question in all this is...WHY?  Why not make these LTE sites discoverable and usable for Sprint customers with LTE devices right now?  I cannot tell you with certainty.  In some instances, it could be backhaul related.  In some instances, it could be related to the 4G LTE core.  In some instances, it could be related to eHRPD integration.  It may be that the customer experience is not where they think you will tolerate.  I have seen errant comments regarding all of these issues.  But none being specifically outed as the culprit in not allowing LTE discoverability now.

However, one thing that is known, our source says that their Strategic Marketing and Network Management are working together now to establish the criteria for when a site is eligible to be discoverable.  When that criteria is established here in the very near future, and a site meets the agreed to criteria, the sites will become live.  Until then, this is the steadfast rule for Sprint LTE site availability, "Site will remain hidden from customer use until directed by business teams to be made commercially available."

There are very widely scattered reports that a site here or a site there has active LTE available to customers.  Including one report this weekend in Kansas City.  These may be valid.  It's possible that some sites are incorrectly configured and not blocking traffic as they should.  Or, it's possible these few select sites are ready to go and are now "discoverable."  Please make sure you notify S4GRU and provide the screen shots should you get access to a Sprint LTE site.


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Live LTE sites as of Friday, April 20, 2012.  Almost 200 sites.  Sprint is not allowing access at this time.  Click on map to enlarge.






Thanks for the write up, wish I could enjoy some of that lte goodness as we speak. Hopefully they make things discoverable around here fairly quickly.

Thanks for the write up, wish I could enjoy some of that lte goodness as we speak. Hopefully they make things discoverable around here fairly quickly.


Maybe our article will help motivate them to do it more quickly?

Robert
Atleast now I don't have to check ever second to see if someone upload a 4g speed test

Atleast now I don't have to check ever second to see if someone upload a 4g speed test

Some people have upload 4G LTE speed tests on other websites
About anywhere from 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps have been shown

Maybe our article will help motivate them to do it more quickly?Robert

Hope it does
Going to Dallas in June and I will make sure to have my HTC Evo 4G LTE by then to do speed tests
Thanks for the info.......
Could the 3G benefits of Network Vision be limited while the site is "undiscoverable" too? Or does this strictly apply to lte?
My sheer guess is that this is largely a marketing-driven decision, and not in a bad way either: Sprint doesn't want another flood of articles from top tech sites like Engadget and Ars complaining about spotty coverage in major markets where LTE isn't fully lit up, much as they experienced two years ago due to Clearwire's uneven.coverage in launch markets. Sprint needs this launch to go well to justify NV to its skittish investors, which means they need a comparable, mostly-solid network to already-launched AT&T and Verizon in these markets before they flip the "reserved" switch. I wouldn't be surprised if they wait to flip markets on until the contractors have already headed to the next market on the list, at least until after the first wave is done. After the launch markets are live for a first month or so and the reviews are all out there, I expect Sprint to be less worried and let sites in lower-tier markets be live from the day they're done.

Maybe our article will help motivate them to do it more quickly?Robert


Ever heard of Sprint folks (not sources) reading these articles first hand?

My sheer guess is that this is largely a marketing-driven decision, and not in a bad way either: Sprint doesn't want another flood of articles from top tech sites like Engadget and Ars complaining about spotty coverage in major markets where LTE isn't fully lit up, much as they experienced two years ago due to Clearwire's uneven.coverage in launch markets. Sprint needs this launch to go well to justify NV to its skittish investors, which means they need a comparable, mostly-solid network to already-launched AT&T and Verizon in these markets before they flip the "reserved" switch. I wouldn't be surprised if they wait to flip markets on until the contractors have already headed to the next market on the list, at least until after the first wave is done. After the launch markets are live for a first month or so and the reviews are all out there, I expect Sprint to be less worried and let sites in lower-tier markets be live from the day they're done.


The funny thing is Sprint launching LTE in a 5x5 channel when the Jesus Phone will be out in October thus becoming an attraction for a lot of new and current customers from other wireless carriers. They better get a lot of capacity than it needs because there will be a big flood of new customers jumping. This will be Sprint last chance to get it right in my opinion, and if they have another PR nightmare regarding their network they will be finished.
Finally some news.... I can't wait for the official launch. perhaps it will be concurrent with new device launches (e4glte? sgs3?)
Thanks for the update! I can't wait until they finally turn on LTE in Houston!
I have a tower less than a mile from my house so I should be able to get some nice speeds when it goes live!
Where are all of these new Iphone users going to come from? I keep thinking we are pretty close to saturation / people sticking with the carrier they are happiest with. I doubt people will switch to Sprint unless 1. their marketing department convinces everyone of Network Vision, or 2. Network Vision sells itself and goes viral :)

Could the 3G benefits of Network Vision be limited while the site is "undiscoverable" too? Or does this strictly apply to lte?


Just LTE.

Robert

My sheer guess is that this is largely a marketing-driven decision, and not in a bad way either: Sprint doesn't want another flood of articles from top tech sites like Engadget and Ars complaining about spotty coverage in major markets where LTE isn't fully lit up, much as they experienced two years ago due to Clearwire's uneven.coverage in launch markets. Sprint needs this launch to go well to justify NV to its skittish investors, which means they need a comparable, mostly-solid network to already-launched AT&T and Verizon in these markets before they flip the "reserved" switch. I wouldn't be surprised if they wait to flip markets on until the contractors have already headed to the next market on the list, at least until after the first wave is done. After the launch markets are live for a first month or so and the reviews are all out there, I expect Sprint to be less worried and let sites in lower-tier markets be live from the day they're done.


It does appear to be their marketing division holding the cards on this one. Or, at least their "Business Teams" as they were referenced by the source information. However, it is clear that they will indeed be releasing LTE to go live on existing sites before the official launch dates.

Robert

Ever heard of Sprint folks (not sources) reading these articles first hand?


Many Sprint "folks" do read S4GRU. At all levels. Even the executive level.

Robert

The funny thing is Sprint launching LTE in a 5x5 channel when the Jesus Phone will be out in October thus becoming an attraction for a lot of new and current customers from other wireless carriers. They better get a lot of capacity than it needs because there will be a big flood of new customers jumping. This will be Sprint last chance to get it right in my opinion, and if they have another PR nightmare regarding their network they will be finished.


Sprint has many options for more PCS LTE carriers in many markets for additional capacity, not including even using 800MHz and Clearwire's TD-2600. But even by the most liberal estimates, Sprint will not need to add an additional LTE carrier to any site for 10 to 12 months, and then only at the busiest sites. Sprint is actually sitting in a very good position when it comes to adding additional LTE carriers for capacity.

Robert
Googling found that SIB = System Information Blocks. Lots of good information.
Here's a YouTube video. LOL
No LTE is probably better than extremely limited / spotty LTE in the eyes of the masses. It's a good move on Sprints part until they have a more built out network ready to go, in my opinion. I just don't know how fast they're working, to me, it appears at this rate they might not have a decent enough network by even the end of the year to flip this thing on. Hopefully they're pulling double shifts to get this thing ready, otherwise they launched these phones way too early.

No LTE is probably better than extremely limited / spotty LTE in the eyes of the masses. It's a good move on Sprints part until they have a more built out network ready to go, in my opinion. I just don't know how fast they're working, to me, it appears at this rate they might not have a decent enough network by even the end of the year to flip this thing on. Hopefully they're pulling double shifts to get this thing ready, otherwise they launched these phones way too early.


The Tri-Network Hotspot launches May 18th. I think we will see them starting to take the LTE network to discoverable by then in select areas.

Robert
5.2.2.7 Actions upon reception of the SystemInformationBlockType1 message Upon receiving the SystemInformationBlockType1 message the UE shall:
1> if the frequency band indicated in the freqBandIndicator is not part of the frequency bands supported by the UE:
2> consider the cell as barred in accordance with TS 36.304 [4] and;
2> perform barring as if intraFreqReselection is set to 'notAllowed', and as if the csg-Indication is set to 'F ALSE'';
1> else:
2> forward the
cellIdentity to upper layers;
2> forward the
trackingAreaCode to upper layers;

Looks like it would be telling the phone the cell tower is outside of the defined frequency range, I imagine that changing the frequency range value to include the value in the SIB1 could potentially give us access, I also would expect this to be in the phones radios which is not something you want to go playing around with unless you have lots of money to buy new phones after you brick them. I only watched half the video so if Im wrong or this is irrelevant I apologize.
5.3.1 Cell status and cell reservations

Cell status and cell reservations are indicated with the Cell Access Restriction Information Element in the System Information Message [3] by means of three Information Elements:
- Cell barred (IE type: "barred" or "not barred")
In case of NW sharing, this IE is common for all PLMNs
- Cell Reserved for operator use (IE type: "reserved" or "not reserved")
In case of NW sharing, this IE is specified per PLMN
- Cell reserved for future extension (IE type: "reserved" or "not reserved")
In case of NW sharing, this IE is common for all PLMNs.
When cell status is indicated as "not barred", "not reserved" for operator use and "not reserved" for future extension (Cell Reservation Extension),
- All UEs shall treat this cell as candidate during the cell selection and cell re-selection procedures.
When cell status is indicated as "not barred", "not reserved" for operator use and "reserved" for future extension (Cell Reservation Extension),
- UEs shall behave as if cell status "barred" is indicated.
When cell status is indicated as "not barred" and "reserved" for operator use,
- UEs assigned to Access Class 11 or 15 shall treat this cell as candidate during the cell selection and cell re-selection procedures if the reservation is set to “reserved” for the UE’s HPLMN/EHPLMN and the cell belongs to the HPLMN or EHPLMN [4].
- UEs assigned to an Access Class in the range 0 to 9 and 12 to 14 shall behave as if cell status "barred" is indicated. Also UEs of AC 11 or 15 shall behave as if cell status "barred" is indicated if the cell reservation is not activated for the UE’s HPLMN/EHPLMN or if not camped on a cell of its HPLMN or EHPLMN.
When cell status "barred" is indicated,
- The UE is not permitted to select/re-select this cell, not even for emergency calls.
- The UE shall ignore the "Cell Reserved for future extension (Cell Reservation Extension) use" IE.
- The UE is not permitted to receive any MBMS services from that cell

- The UE shall select another cell

The cell selection of another cell may also include a change of RAT.

We might be able to change the device class, I don't have my phone rooted nor msl yet to fool around

EDIT * I think this is sent by SIB3 which wouldn't help us if they are using SIB1? I really don't know much about this but its a nice brake from studying for property final
is there a possibility to write an app to connect to a cell thats in test mode or is that a function controlled by the cell site that wont allow a phone to connect to it while its in testing mode?
What kind of LTE class is sprint using? Class 8 like the twin bells or a higher one?
I guess my question is this...I have been using the EVO 4G for my internet at home. I consistently have 3 bars to full signal using the WiMax. I just received my Galaxy nexus that I used my upgrade on yesterday. I activated it and realized I was getting horrible 3g speeds. It was on for maybe an hour before I had to deactivate it and go back to EVO. I am thinking I should return it and wait until the LTE is actually working here in the Dallas area. Maybe get the EVO 4GLTE.

My zipcode is 75006 and from the Network.sprint.com site there is a tower less than a mile from me that was just recently upgraded, but my 3G speed is on avg 200-300kbs.

Is there any more news as to a more semi-solid date that LTE will be actually usable here in the Dallas area?? I can not seem to find any maps besides the one posted here that show much progress.

I am a first year Network and Communications mgmt student and love the topics and information here. You guys are the best. I would donate and participate more but with a new baby it just is not in the budget.

Again, thank you. I am a daily reader and appreciate what you do.

I guess my question is this...I have been using the EVO 4G for my internet at home. I consistently have 3 bars to full signal using the WiMax. I just received my Galaxy nexus that I used my upgrade on yesterday. I activated it and realized I was getting horrible 3g speeds. It was on for maybe an hour before I had to deactivate it and go back to EVO. I am thinking I should return it and wait until the LTE is actually working here in the Dallas area. Maybe get the EVO 4GLTE.My zipcode is 75006 and from the Network.sprint.com site there is a tower less than a mile from me that was just recently upgraded, but my 3G speed is on avg 200-300kbs.Is there any more news as to a more semi-solid date that LTE will be actually usable here in the Dallas area?? I can not seem to find any maps besides the one posted here that show much progress.I am a first year Network and Communications mgmt student and love the topics and information here. You guys are the best. I would donate and participate more but with a new baby it just is not in the budget.Again, thank you. I am a daily reader and appreciate what you do.



What is your nearest cross street in 75006?

Robert
I am at Marsh Ln and Beltline Road.
Does not matter for me because I reside in Little Rock, Arkansas and I have NO Sprint 4G at all. This is sad because Little
Rock should have had 4G from June 2010 and it never happened.
Sprint has the iPhone though but limited 4G. Maybe that is
why AT&T got the iPhone first?