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Teaser: Samsung Galaxy S5 gets a boost via Wi-Fi but not carrier aggregation

Posted by WiWavelength , in Author: Andrew J. Shepherd 09 March 2014 · 40,158 views

Sprint Samsung Galaxy S5 FCC OET MIMO
Teaser: Samsung Galaxy S5 gets a boost via Wi-Fi but not carrier aggregation by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, March 10, 2014 - 8:47 AM MDT

After official unveiling at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few weeks ago, the Samsung Galaxy S5 made public its authorizations in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database at the start of this weekend. All of the domestic variants are there, including the A3LSMG900P, which in its tri band LTE configuration and "P" designation is the obvious Sprint variant.

As expected of a Sprint high end handset, the Galaxy S5 ticks off all of the checkboxes: tri band LTE, UE category 4, global roaming capability, 802.11ac, NFC, wireless charging, etc. It also appears to improve upon the RF output of last year's single band Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3. From a common uplink EIRP standpoint, the Galaxy S5 can max out up to 3-4 dB greater on band 25 LTE 1900, hitting 26.85 dBm in the middle of the PCS band, falling off 1-2 dB at the extremes of the band. Additionally, band 41 LTE max output looks relatively healthy at 25.03 dBm.

In a pleasing move, the FCC authorization docs for the Galaxy S5 do include an antenna diagram -- something that is unfortunately becoming less common, per my mention in the recent HTC M8 FCC article. But in this case, we are able to show a visual of the dual WLAN antennas required for Wi-Fi 2x2 MIMO support, allowing MCS index raw data rates up to 300 Mbps over 802.11n and 866.7 Mbps over 802.11ac. Previously, two spatial stream Wi-Fi has been limited to some laptops and a select few tablets. Thus, the Galaxy S5 is pushing the handset envelope in that regard. See the antenna diagram below:

Posted Image

Of course, with no separate CDMA2000 and LTE antennas, as depicted in the diagram above, the Galaxy S5 does not support SVDO nor SVLTE. No surprises there, since Sprint tri band LTE handsets have all been single radio path with e/CSFB.

But continuing on the Wi-Fi front, the Galaxy S5 does include a unique simultaneous transmission mode: Wi-Fi and LTE. Now, this is not simultaneous Wi-Fi and LTE in the typical sense that Wi-Fi is used to tether an LTE connection. This is a dual IP stack connection over both Wi-Fi and LTE that Samsung dubs Download Booster, allowing packets to be split up and delivered by both connections, thereby increasing data speeds.

Editorially, S4GRU has some concerns about inclusion of the bonded connection Download Booster, since it may engender "unlimited" data users to remain connected to LTE, too, while on secure Wi-Fi at home, work, school, etc. In most cases, Wi-Fi alone is sufficiently fast for all smartphone activities. And that is why S4GRU has long advocated offloading to Wi-Fi -- when/where possible and secure -- so as to help maintain valuable LTE capacity for truly mobile users. That said, we are curious to see the real world implementation of Download Booster before passing judgment.

Finally, many hoped that the Galaxy S5 might be the first Sprint handset to support LTE Advanced carrier aggregation because Sprint plans to use its acquired Clearwire spectrum to aggregate multiple band 41 20 MHz TDD carriers. That capability, though, will have to wait for the presumed Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S6, or some other device.

The carrier aggregation omission is worth mentioning only because the A3LSMG900A variant headed to AT&T does support inter band downlink carrier aggregation. This allows the Galaxy S5 to bond up to 10 MHz FDD of AT&T's low frequency band 17 LTE 700 with up to 10 MHz FDD of its mid frequency band 2 LTE 1900 or band 4 LTE 2100+1700. Indeed, AT&T carrier aggregation is already in use in Chicago, as Gigaom's Kevin Fitchard reported last week.

Well, that is the FCC skinny on the upcoming Sprint variant Galaxy S5. Nothing revolutionary on the cellular side of things, but with MIMO and Download Booster, it does offer up some interesting Wi-Fi enhancements.

Sources: FCC, Samsung

Hmmm. Could the simultaneous WiFi and LTE be Multi-Path TCP? That preserves a smooth user experience, even when transitioning between WiFi and LTE signal areas (going into a basement or walking out of a Starbucks) that would otherwise tend to inspire a few choice curse words.


I was thinking the same thing. My thoughts is that they might want to use this to allow hand off of WiFi to Cellular. 

I have an app which automatically connects me to TWC WiFi hotspots around the city when within range. Sometimes these are faster than Sprint's network, but sometimes not. A service which keeps both connected and automatically uses whichever is faster seems useful.

This is a stupid idea.  Using the network while in range of wifi will place unnecessary load on the network.  I turn on my wifi as soon as I have data intensive things to do if possible.  I usually don't use it because my Sprint connection tends to be more consistent than public wifi around here and most of what I do is not data intensive, but rather small things like parts orders, electronic mail, etc.


I just hope the providers have a way to turn it off from their end when the user is connected to an overloaded site/carrier.


I think/hope the point of it will be to allow you to keep your wifi turned on and get at least some use out of those inconsistent public wifi hotspots which you are currently avoiding. That would be a net gain for Sprint's network.

Mar 17 2014 12:44 PM

I think/hope the point of it will be to allow you to keep your wifi turned on and get at least some use out of those inconsistent public wifi hotspots which you are currently avoiding. That would be a net gain for Sprint's network.

Then I would expect it to be named "data saver" rather than "download booster" in order to drive that point.  I'm not sure how much of a gain it would be in my case.  I might use up all of .5 - 2MB of Sprint data doing an order which takes 5-10 minutes.  This seems clearly targeted to the heavier user.  The way it looks like it works is to send as much data as possible through each connection in order to get the highest possible download speeds.

Mar 17 2014 01:32 PM

Then I would expect it to be named "data saver" rather than "download booster" in order to drive that point.


Or just be done with it and call it the "E-Penis Enlarger" -- because that is what it is.  Far too many buffoons out there are obsessed with MOAR SPEED!



Can carrier aggregation be enabled via software at a later time or is it directly a hardware feature?

I don't think we'll see CA on current Cat 4 Qualcomm based Sprint variants until Cat 6 baseband chipsets (Snapdragon 805) arrive later this year.


Cat 4 UE currently only supports up to 20Mhz channels, either contiguous or aggregated (10+10, 5+15). Since Sprint is already running contiguous 20Mhz TDD LTE channel, CA enabled on Sprint's Cat 4 UE like GS5, M8, etc wouldn't offer any tangible advantage as far as Sprint's network is concerned.

Any idea if the Sprint variant will have envelope tracking?

Apr 10 2014 03:38 PM

Sprint and Verizon allegedly kill off Samsung Boost:


Apr 30 2014 10:30 AM

If it was something that allowed the use of wifi / cell networks simultaneously (or more transparent transitions between them) it would be a great thing and should help more everyday folk off load.  I know myself I've on numerous times gotten intentionally shut off wifi and gotten the the macro network because the available wifi was so flakey to be unusable at times (one in particular would randomly time out all request every 5-10 minutes)  if you can offload to wifi, while still maintaining the reliability of the macro network connection...I personally would leave wifi on way more often.


that said, looking closer at this feature shows it's only for file sizes bigger than 30 mb, so it's not nearly as useful.

Very interesting post. really informative. of all the blogs I have read on the same topic, this one is actually enlightening. Thanks 

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