by Seth Goodwin
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 11:20 AM MDT
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has only been on the job for 3-1/2 weeks, but dramatic changes have already been made. Claure took part in Goldman Sachs 23rd Annual Communacopia Conference this morning in New York City. During the course of an approximately 35 minute onstage interview, Claure’s strategy for Sprint going forward was publicized for the first time.
Claure started by noting the advice he received as a first time CEO of a publicly traded company was “don’t make any changes for the first 100 days.” He continued “I just couldn't help myself. On day 4 we changed everything we do from the time we go to market.” In his first meeting with Sprint’s vice presidents in Overland Park, Claure asked a simple question. Why would anyone buy a Sprint phone?
The question itself was somewhat rhetorical. As Claure noted to the audience “really there wasn't really any compelling value proposition [at Sprint]." He noted that Sprint was more expensive than some of their competitors while still “coming out of a pretty traumatic network experience.” As to Framily, Claure discussed that even he himself had a hard time understanding how the plan worked, and was less than thrilled that “We were marketing with a hamster talking to people."
The Way Forward
Insight into Claure’s strategy can be traced back to his time at Brightstar. Over a 15 year period, Marcelo transformed a company from selling cellphones out of the trunk of his car in Miami, to a full scale cellular logistics corporation with over $10 billion in revenue in 2013. This entrepreneurial spirit and underdog mentality is what he is seeking to replicate at Sprint.
In the wake of complicated plans and the success of family share plans at Verizon and AT&T, Claure identified this as Sprint’s first target. Within his first four days on the job, Sprint’s post-paid plan offerings were drastically overhauled. He emphasized Sprint’s commitment to match or beat AT&T and Verizon on price as well as surpassing them by doubling the data offered on comparable competitor’s plans. By the end of Week 1, a competitive individual plan was also released.
By essentially concentrating plan offerings to two simple to understand plans, Claure sees the ability to market and sell these plans to consumers being easier going forward. He told store employees forget about the rule book “just go out there and be an entrepreneur… It is incredible when you empower your employees and allow them to be entrepreneurs the type of things that start to happen.”
Claure is aware of the importance of the network. He specifically noted that he monitors network performance daily. Even with that, he is optimistic about where he's taking Sprint into the future. “The network is our product…We provide connectivity and the network needs to be good in order for customers to come.” He also was gracious towards what former CEO Dan Hesse had already accomplished on the network side before leaving. “He made a pretty bold move,” Claure said. “We basically went and did a whole rip and replace of our network.”
Marcelo noted that most of the network hardware replacement is done. Something the S4GRU sponsor site statistics bear out. Without providing details, Claure underscored something we have been hearing out of Sprint for the past several months...that the deployment of LTE Bands 25 and 26 are being accelerated with 255 million POP's now covered by Sprint LTE.
As we have discussed on this site numerous times, Spectrum is ultimately one of Sprint’s key differentiators. “We have over 160MHz in the 2.5 band. Our majority shareholders entire secret sauce in Japan was based on their 2.5 network.” Marcelo said 60 million POP's are currently covered by Band 41 LTE. These are former Clearwire WiMax sites that have been converted to Sprint’s Spark LTE. One of the more interesting aspects of this morning’s event was the change in Sprint’s 8T8R Band 41 deployment strategy.
Marcelo elaborated, “We are going to move to a smarter model in terms of how we deploy our equipment” going forward. He discussed that when he arrived, Sprint’s plan was simply to deploy new Band 41 8T8R equipment across their over 30,000 sites. Which is essentially all their existing full build Network Vision sites. The problem with this strategy according to Claure is that this “takes us too long to be good anywhere.” The new strategy has 2.5 LTE (Band 41) deployments being concentrated in areas where the existing network is overburdened.
In the second wave of the Band 41 8T8R deployment attack, Sprint will be “going strong after a few cities...focusing on a few critical markets and deploying an experience that hasn't been seen yet in the U.S.”
Shifting the focus to areas that need the extra capacity first is strategically important. If implemented properly, getting Band 41 LTE sites deployed across all markets where they are absolutely needed for extra capacity will help make the network more usable for end users. “There is no need for us to plaster the nation with 2.5, because it is going to take too long,” Claure said. “Rather we’d like to get some wins early on.”
The Near-Term Plan
To Claure, ultimately price and the network is Sprint’s winning value proposition. He noted in the wireless industry, you can either compete on price as T-Mobile has been aggressively doing as of late, or you can compete on the quality of your network as Verizon or AT&T does. That left Sprint in a precarious position, “we were the most expensive and our network is a work in progress.” Claure added, “You are going to see us now be the value driver… And potentially in the market for a really strong advertisement network.” Claure concluded, “If you can have price and the really strong network; you have a winning value proposition."
To compete on value in the near-term, expect Sprint to aggressively counteract competitor’s moves. Claure gave the example of T-Mobile announcing a guaranteed best price on a device buyback or trade-in. Later that afternoon Sprint countered, offering to do better than T-Mobile. Sprint was in part able to make this play due synergies with Claure’s former company Brightstar, now fully owned by Softbank.
Brightstar is the largest player in the phone trade-in market in the world. Claure noted synergies between Sprint and the over 1,000 companies Softbank owns or does business with are a competitive advantage. He noted that the value proposition is Sprint’s optimal strategy at this point and concluded by saying Sprint must be the ultimate disruptor in the industry.
You can say what you want about Sprint's past. But the future is changing. It's squarely in Marcelo's hands. And he's gaining momentum.
by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5:55 PM MDT
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:
5 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.18dBm
3 MHZ FDD channels: max EIRP 23.07dBm
10 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.14dBm
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).
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...
EDIT: Removed Carrier Aggregation limitation of equal sized channels............................................
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 12:21 PM MDT
As many of you know, Sprint recently established a partnership with members of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) as sort of a quid pro quo. This partnership is called the Rural Roaming Preferred Program (RRPP), and S4GRU wrote about the nascent RRPP in a recent article on The Wall.
In a nutshell, Sprint will gain pseudo native LTE coverage outside of its standard footprint, as RRPP members overlay Sprint's PCS 1900 MHz, SMR 800 MHz, and even BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum on their existing networks. In turn, RRPP members will get access to Sprint's LTE footprint, and maybe even more importantly for many of these small scale operators, they will benefit from Sprint's and SoftBank's economy of scale in device procurement.
Going forward, Sprint will create a device ecosystem that supports not only its native CDMA2000 band classes and LTE bands but also its RRPP partner LTE bands, namely band 2 LTE 1900, band 4 LTE 1700+2100, band 5 LTE 850, and band 12 LTE 700. The Nexus 5 almost pulled off that quadruple play last year, but that last LTE band has been a sticky wicket for CCA members, since AT&T was able to get its boutique band 17 LTE 700 pushed through the 3GPP. It left many CCA members that hold Lower 700 MHz A block licenses out in the cold, as they lacked access to some of the most popular devices created by the AT&T economy of scale.
Today, that changes. Trumping a presumed iPhone reveal in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) later this afternoon, Motorola unleashed the authorization documents this morning for the IHDT56QA3, the third variant of the 2014 Moto X to pass through the FCC OET. The big takeaway, as indicated in the title of this article, is that this Moto X with the expected model number XT1092 is the first Sprint/CCA/RRPP fully compliant LTE handset -- even if an iPhone variant possibly joins the group here in the next few hours.
In conclusion for this short Teaser, the FCC OET docs can speak for themselves. This table tells the whole LTE story for Sprint and its RRPP partners.
We wanted to bring you the scoop as soon as possible, but stay tuned. S4GRU may expand this article as more information is gleaned from the FCC OET docs or becomes available elsewhere.
by Tim Yu
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, August 18, 2014 - 8:14 AM MDT
[update] Sprint has announced the Sharp Aquos Crystal which confirms our findings and theories this certified device is indeed the Sharp Aquos Crystal.
While rummaging through recent FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorizations on a hot evening in late July, S4GRU staff noticed a curious new entry. It was a smartphone that supports the full spectrum of tri band LTE for Sprint Spark and, of course, CDMA2000 capabilities for native and roaming CDMA1X/EV-DO networks. However, tri band LTE has become commonplace among Sprint handsets over the past year. That was not the interesting part.
Rather, what was most intriguing about this entry was the manufacturer: SHARP CORPORATION.
Sharp, as a cell phone maker, is almost non existent in the North American market. Sharp doesn't even come across the public's mind when people think of an Android smartphone, but here it was -- confusing and exciting at the same time. S4GRU staff raised numerous questions and theories on what exact device it was until just a few hours ago when Sharp, along with SoftBank JPN, announced the Aquos Crystal smartphone in Japan. Additionally, tomorrow August 19th in New York, Sprint is holding a "Take the Edge Off" event, which S4GRU has been covering in The Forums since around the time of the FCC OET filing discovery late last month. How could both developments not be connected?
The FCC authorization documents for this Sharp smartphone show a cross section diagram and diagonal of 14.5 cm that measure extremely close to that of the 5.0" display model, making it highly likely that this mystery Sharp smartphone is indeed the recently announced Aquos Crystal smartphone.
The Japanese version is being released on August 29th. Below are its specs:
Dimensions: 67 mm x 131 mm x 10 mm
Weight: 140 g
OS: Android 4.4.2
SoC: MSM8926 1.2 GHz (Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad core)
Display: 1280 x 720 (LCD)
ROM: 8 GB, expandable to 128 GB (mSDXC)
RAM: 1.5 GB
SoftBank LTE FDD * AXGP (i.e. LTE TDD band 41)
For the Sprint variant, the FCC OET docs make no mention of hardware (e.g. processor, display, memory), as that is not the RF purview of the FCC. But the hardware specs are likely to be the same as those of Japanese version, the primary differences being the band/band class support for Sprint. And below is a cursory look at the Sprint variant maximum ERP/EIRP figures:
LTE FDD band 25 (LTE 1900): 25.82 dBm
LTE FDD band 26 (LTE 800): 19.72 dBm
LTE TDD band 41 (TD-LTE 2600): 25.43 dBm
CDMA2000 band class 0 (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850): 18.62 dBm
CDMA2000 band class 1 (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900): 23.28 dBm
CDMA2000 band class 10 (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800): 18.98 dBm
It's nice to see Sharp coming back into the game in the North American market, and what better way to do so then by taking the edge off and using it to cut into the competition.
by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 5:30 PM MDT
The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are reporting this evening that Sprint will announce tomorrow morning that it will stop pursuing a purchase of T-Mobile USA.
Furthermore, according to these leaks to financial media, it is also anticipated that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse will leave Sprint and his replacement will be named. The combination of the two companies was already cast as dubious by many because of the perceived reduction in competition in the American wireless landscape. CNBC stated that the final straw was the FCC decision last week not to allow Sprint and T-Mobile to jointly bid for spectrum in the 600MHz auction. It was seen that this move by the FCC was indicative of the Feds lack of tolerance of a combined entity.
We will add to the rumors by wondering aloud if Nikesh Arora will be named the new Sprint CEO. Arora recently was announced to be leaving Google as Chief Business Officer for a new position at SoftBank. Could this have been a play to move him to Sprint all along? UPDATE: Later into the evening, more sources have outed Marcelo Claure as the heir apparent to Dan Hesse. Claure is best known as the majority owner of Brightstar and already serves on Sprint's Board.
Stay tuned as more information is obtained!
S4GRU Members are discussing this in our forums: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/6013-sprint-reportedly-bowing-out-of-t-mobile-bid/?p=346787
EDIT: Added CNBC info at 5:55 PM MDT, Added Arora conjecture at 6:10 PM MDT. Added infor regarding Marcelo Claude at 8:15 PM PDT.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNBC
by Josh McDaniel and Tim Yu
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 11:59 PM MDT
On June 5, 2014, LG received FCC OET approval for the LG LS990, otherwise known to handset consumers as the Sprint variant LG G3. Then, just two weeks later, on June 19, the device received a Class II Permissive Change filing that appears to show slightly improved radio capabilities.
The LG G3 has a strong spec/feature list:
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974
Android 4.4.2 KitKat
5.5” QHD display (1440 x 2560 pixel resolution)
3 GB RAM
13 MP back camera
2.1 MP front camera
32 GB internal storage
64 GB microSD support
As expected, the FCC docs show that this phone does not support SVDO nor SVLTE, as it is a tri-band, single radio handset. It does include support for Wi-Fi calling. Unfortunately, LG didn’t include the antenna diagram with this flagship, opting to make that diagram a permanently confidential item.
Included in the documentation is also the testing certification for QI wireless charging, which has become prevalent on many flagship devices. Though it is not included in the actual retail device, which comes with a standard non wireless charging back cover, a wireless charging cover is apt to be available for retail sales soon after release of the handset.
On LTE, the G3 supports the following carrier bandwidths:
Band 25 3/5/10 MHz FDD
Band 26 1.4/3/5/10 MHz FDD
Band 41 10/15/20 MHz TDD
Radiated power levels for each LTE band show middle of the road performance, lower than that of some of the mid-range tri-band LTE devices available and/or coming to the market. For review, here is a summary of the radiated power levels:
CDMA BC0 (850) 21.03 dBm
CDMA BC1 (1900) 23.08 dBm
CDMA BC10 (800) 22.75 dBm
LTE Band 25 (1900) 21.28 - 22.9 dBm
LTE Band 26 (800) 17.49 - 20.51 dBm
LTE Band 41 (2500/2600) 20.37 - 22.87 dBm
While the publicly available FCC docs do not include the aforementioned antenna diagram, they do divulge the peak antenna gain structures for each of the supported bands/band classes. For best RF performance in an internal antenna flagship smartphone, we expect to see around -4 dBi for below 1 GHz, around 1 dBi for 1-2 GHz, and around 3 dBi for above 2 GHz. In those regards, the LG G3 is a disappointment, and that may account for its middling radiated power levels. For reference, below is the peak antenna gain table:
But as always these don't show the whole story as some devices that show higher power level actually perform worse than those which show lower power levels. It varies by device but it is an unknown until users run thorough tests against the previous LG G2 flagship and other flagships (Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, etc.).
The LG G3 was announced to be in stores starting July 18, 2014, but in a surprise move by Sprint, it was launched July 11, the same day that AT&T launched its LG G3 variant.
FCC OET C2PC
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 5:30 PM MDT
Hold the phones! One day, you won’t have to worry about holding the phones as Sprint moves to VoLTE for its voice telephone services. That is because VoLTE (Voice over LTE) will allow customers to do a voice call and LTE data simultaneously. S4GRU is now able to confirm that Sprint is proceeding with Voice over LTE based on detailed information from an anonymous Sprint executive. He was able to confirm some of their plans for the transition to VoLTE for voice.
In recent months, Sprint has been quite mum about moving to voice over its LTE network. Maybe even a bit misleading about it. Causing some to believe they may not even move to VoLTE at all. Public quotes from Sprint have reiterated that CDMA will carry its voice needs for the foreseeable future and not being in any rush about going to VoLTE like all their competitors have proclaimed. And based on this new information S4GRU recently obtained, it will certainly not be rushed.
But Sprint is moving forward with a solid VoLTE plan that will see the lion share of its voice usage move to LTE. This is a relief to some S4GRU members, as they have been getting anxious as they hear other providers publicly extol their upcoming VoLTE networks. We will discuss some details of the plan as they were shared with us.
The Sprint VoLTE plan
Currently, Sprint is in the programming phase of VoLTE. This includes all the design criteria and functionality that can and should be included in their VoLTE system. This includes discussion and feedback from device and network OEM’s about feasibility and hardware support. When this programming phase completes this summer, it will then proceed with an FIT (Field Implementation Testing) phase.
During the FIT, they will be able to discover any issues and bugs that need to be worked out before OEM’s start mass producing equipment and VoLTE is instituted nationwide on the Sprint LTE network. Sprint VoLTE FIT’s are planned to be in Kansas, Greater Chicago (Illinois) and Virginia. Key roaming partners will participate to ensure interoperability.
An opening up of the VoLTE network to customers will be in a future implementation phase that is yet to be scheduled. The schematic schedule would have that be in Mid 2015, but it could be sooner if everything goes well in the wrap up of Phase 1, the FIT and the availability in the device ecosystem is realized.
Sprint is proceeding with incorporating VoLTE into its network to capitalize on the following advantages:
To support both domestic and global roaming for its customers and customers of other VoLTE providers
Reducing the CDMA network (capacity, not coverage) by removing most of the voice burden to allow for spectrum refarming for additional LTE carriers (capacity)
VoLTE will allow HD Voice to be interoperable with several other providers by using the 3GPP EVS (Enhanced Voice Service) codec and integrating other networks together
Additionally, here are some details about how Sprint will implement VoLTE:
The Sprint VoLTE network will be designed to hand off calls to the existing Sprint CDMA network, including HD Voice calls, via the EVRC-NW codec
EVS codec standardization may not be achieved by the time Sprint starts deploying a VoLTE network. They will use AMR-WB and EVRC-NW for testing initially. This may limit initial interoperability of HD Voice in the beginning.
Sprint to SoftBank Mobile VoLTE calls should be able to use HD Voice from the beginning, and vice versa.
Sprint will leave some CDMA voice capacity indefinitely. However, ultimately the goal is to remove CDMA 1X Voice when coverage and quality is equal or better than customers experience today. Additional low frequency spectrum may be required, depending on future voice demand which is steadily declining.
VoLTE calls will not be given QoS Priority on LTE initially. Should LTE capacity constraints be experienced during a VoLTE call, the call will be handed over to the 1x network. As the LTE network matures and loads are better balanced, voice on LTE will be given priority over other LTE traffic similar to WCDMA networks.
FDD LTE networks will be preferred for VoLTE traffic over TDD LTE. TDD already has the uplink slotted for maximum data download efficiency. Adding additional uplink data demand for voice (which is synchronous in nature) on TDD (which is not synchronous) may cause a noticeable data upload degradation in voice demand scenarios. Due to FDD being synchronous in nature like voice calls operate, Sprint VoLTE will prefer FDD LTE over TDD LTE when possible to provide for the best network operation.
Interoperability over getting it installed now
One of the key reasons why Sprint is going to be last to the VoLTE race is because of interoperability. The most important attribute to Sprint for VoLTE is roaming with other providers. Early VoLTE networks will either not support interoperability, or will require significant upgrades or network changes to allow it. VoLTE is only now maturing to a state of interoperability where there are enough standards to ensure a system that can work with other providers.
Unlike the Duopoly and some other early VoLTE adopters who may not care for an open voice network, and may even be against it, Sprint is making sure that its network is designed with interoperability in mind. So it works with other providers from the beginning. Sprint is likely working with CCA and RRPP members. And this makes sense in context with remarks recently from RRPP partner VTel in Vermont.
The Sprint network is being designed from the get go to make sure it can host roaming for other LTE providers around the country and around the world, and also that Sprint VoLTE devices are capable of roaming on partner LTE networks as well.
LTE can finally be that bridge to a cohesive global voice and data network among different providers. Since the world is embracing LTE as the de facto standard, it would be a shame to miss out on that level of interoperability. Granted, there will be some band support issues, but OEM’s have made great strides in providing devices to handle a great many bands these days. The current Nexus 5 model supports many LTE bands already.
Sprint is banking on the slower and well planned route to VoLTE is going to provide a better network to seamless global interoperability for Sprint customers. Now if the FCC and DOJ will take notice and stop the Duopoly from buying out CCA members. This is the largest threat to competition in the wireless market currently, in my opinion.
CCA Member Coverage Map. This is an illustration of what LTE and VoLTE could look like upon all existing CCA members upgrading to fully interoperable LTE/VoLTE networks.
by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 1:30 PM MDT
A few months back, Sprint announced new group partnerships with members of the CCA (Competitive Carriers Association) to expand the availability of Sprint LTE availability in many places across the country outside Sprint service areas. Additionally, Sprint has recently formed a subgroup of current/future LTE providers of the CCA that is referred to as the Rural Roaming Preferred Program (RRPP). Announcing such a deal with nTelos in May, and nearly another dozen in June.
Sprint is part of the over-arching CCA, and working with its large membership group to establish a national LTE roaming group. However, where the action is happening now is with the Rural Roaming Preferred Program. RRPP members are joining a specific Sprint alliance which gives them more direct access to Sprint, their vendors, technology, devices and most importantly…Sprint’s vast spectrum holdings.
As it has been explained to us, CCA members who are not a part of Sprint’s RRRP program are using their own spectrum and resources. Current disclosed members of the RRRP are regional and rural providers nTelos, C-Spire Wireless, SouthernLINC Wireless, Nex-Tech Wireless, Carolina West Wireless, VTel Wireless, Flat Wireless, MobileNation/SI Wireless, Inland Cellular, Illinois Valley Cellular, James Valley Telecommunications and Phoenix Wireless. There are more currently in discussion. Some speculate US Cellular will be announced soon, but we have not been able to confirm that.
The news of the CCA and RRPP partnerships was well received by Sprint customers and members of the S4GRU community. Our members have been stoked at this announcement for months. Craving more details. When is this going to happen? Where, exactly? And the most important question to our readers has been, ‘how will the service be treated…native or roaming?’
In press conferences, news releases and media coverage, it is often being referred to as “LTE roaming” deals. When people see the term roaming, they immediately conjure up ideas of monthly limits or added expenses. For instance, most Sprint postpaid plans currently limit their 1xRTT and 3G EVDO data roaming to only 100MB or 300MB per month. That’s not very much. So many of our members at S4GRU have wondered whether these “LTE roaming” deals would count against current very limited roaming allotments, or if something more generous would be provided on partner LTE networks. This has been the source of some anxiety to our members who want to be excited about this, but want to understand the full impact to their usage behaviors.
Drum roll, please…
We recently have received verification from a Sprint executive, who will remain anonymous, that the coverage with the RRPP providers will be treated as native. Fully native. When you are on these rural partner networks, it will be like you are on your Sprint LTE coverage and all your normal account usages will be allowed.
If you have a 1GB data plan with Sprint. Your usage on these other networks counts against your 1GB monthly allotment. And if you have an unlimited plan on Sprint, you can use unlimited smartphone data on these rural partner networks.
The executive said the point of these new coverages is to provide a seamless customer experience travelling from Sprint LTE coverage into these new rural partner coverage areas. To feel like they are on the Sprint network. And maybe even better in many instances given the lightly used rural nature of this additional coverage. They want Sprint customers, and in turn rural partner customers on the Sprint network, to enjoy a cohesive and expanded national LTE footprint. Something that makes them more competitive with the duopoly.
Some of these rural partners already have their own operating LTE networks on varied spectrum holdings. And others are counting on Sprint spectrum to host their LTE networks or supplement them. We are told that existing LTE networks from these RRPP members on frequencies that current Sprint LTE devices support should be open as soon as logistically possible. Maybe even this summer. They continue to work out some network bugs and billing/authentication issues. Additional LTE frequencies in Band 4 and Band 12 are anticipated to be added to new upcoming devices at the end of this year or early next year and will add even more mileage.
This is great news for Sprint customers. This will open up a lot more LTE coverage. Upon full implementation, the coverage will be quite expansive in square miles. When other CCA partner providers coverage comes online, Sprint should be able to handily eclipse AT&T’s LTE network coverage. Which has recently been purported to be mothballed by AT&T, with no timelines in place to restart. We currently do not know the details of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) on these partner networks. But a VTel Wireless executive did mention recently in a Fierce Wireless article that they were deploying VoLTE themselves. Sprint has been very mum on their VoLTE plans internally or through partners.
We currently do not know if the LTE coverage that is provided by CCA members outside the RRPP will be counted as native the same way. Though T-Mobile is a member of the CCA, they are not a member of Sprint’s RRPP. So Sprint and its customers may see some unique advantages in both off network usage being counted as native and the availability of many more spectrum bands and more coverage than other standard CCA members experience.
We excitedly watch and discuss the progress in S4GRU forums. Stay tuned.
CCA Partners Sprint referenced this past March:
by Josh McDaniel
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, June 13, 2014 - 10:59 AM MDT
Earlier this year, rumors began circulating that Sprint and LG were going to release the LG G2 mini, a smaller version of the G2. The model number of the phone was even listed as LGLS885. Earlier this week, LG received FCC OET approval for that very model number. But is this phone too late to market, as the release of the LG G3 is rumored to be early this summer? No, it couldn't come at a more perfect time.
The phone is to have the following specs (according to the Sprint UA profile):
1280 x 720 HD resolution 4.7” screen
Android 4.4.2 build LS885Z03 KitKat on board with an update already in the works to build LS885ZV2 (Android 4.4.3?)
1 GB RAM
8 GB internal flash storage
32 GB compatible microSD card slot
8 MP rear camera
1.3 MP front camera
The authorization docs indicate the G2 mini to be potentially the first VoLTE capable Sprint phone to pass through the FCC. The key is "potentially." Authorizations for other G2 mini variants also include notation of VoLTE capability, so that may be just boilerplate at this point. Below you will find a screenshot documenting such language. Could this mean that this year's flagships prior to the G2 mini won't get VoLTE? Who knows? They could receive OTA updates, but Samsung and HTC aren't obligated.
Of course, being tri-band, this phone isn't SVDO nor SVLTE capable. We remind you of this every time because some still ask if they can talk and surf the Web at the same time on Sprint tri-band LTE phones. No, only on Wi-Fi. However, if VoLTE is enabled for use on the G2 mini, then it could allow voice and data at the same time. But until Sprint clarifies its VoLTE stance, we can't be sure such a feature will be activated any time soon. “QoS” could be the deciding factor.
As for RF performance, it appears that LG and Sprint have purposely optimized this phone for TD-LTE on band 41. EIRP levels for band 41 are around 5-7 dB higher than EIRP for band 25 and ERP for band 26. Why is that? One explanation is to help camp users on band 41 as the primary LTE band and use band 25 and band 26 only where band 41 LTE isn’t available.
A date for release has not been mentioned, but my personal projection is for the G2 mini to be available before the end of the summer.
Sources: FCC OET, Sprint UA Profile
by Josh McDaniel
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 4:45 PM MDT
Samsung and Sprint are planning to re-release the Galaxy S III in a Sprint tri-band LTE edition. According to the Sprint UA profile, the SPH-L710T has mostly the same specs as the original GS3, except the inclusion of tri-band LTE, and an upgrade to Android 4.4.2. Plus, in a nice twist, Samsung didn't make confidential the antenna diagram for this phone, so I include it for your viewing pleasure.
Remember, as with all other Sprint tri-band LTE handsets, this phone is not capable of supporting SVLTE because the single transmit path is shared among CDMA1X, EV-DO, and LTE. But the phone is open to be another Sprint Wi-Fi calling capable device based on the fact that Samsung made sure to include this phrase in the simultaneous transmission scenarios section: "Pre-installed VOIP applications are considered."
Also included is 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with support for 40MHz 802.11n carriers. Unfortunately, in hotspot mode, all 5 GHz Wi-Fi is disabled.
Source: FCC, Sprint UA Profile
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:
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
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 5:37 PM MST
No one is publicly sure what the codenamed HTC M8 will finally be called. HTC One 2, HTC One More, or maybe pull an Apple move and just call it yet again the HTC One. Regardless, all of the big four domestic variants were added to the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database today. The last to have its authorizations appear online this afternoon was none other than NM80P6B700 -- the tri band LTE variant undeniably headed to Sprint.
As has been our trend over the past six months, we will still call this a teaser article -- albeit make it more extensive than usual. And we may not do a full RF breakdown in the future. Now that tri band LTE and 802.11ac, for example, are de facto standards among top of the line handsets, while SVDO and SVLTE have been laid to rest, there is less news to report on the RF side.
But we do want to run a brief RF ERP/EIRP numbers comparison among the high end HTC handsets that have graced the Sprint lineup over the past two years because, well, HTC has developed a bit of a reputation among S4GRU members for losing its lead in the RF performance department. Despite its moniker, the HTC EVO LTE was downright poor on LTE, and the follow up Sprint variant HTC One and HTC One max were average at best.
Numbers wise, the HTC M8 looks like a step in the right direction. Per the customary caveats, the available test bench measurements represent only maximum uplink ERP/EIRP, so they do not necessarily reflect the full two way RF performance equation. However, they can provide a decent advance peek inside at the RF proficiency of a handset.
In that regard, the HTC M8 offers some improvements over its predecessors. See the table snapshot below (or link to it on Google Docs):
More and more, OEMs are hiding behind the shroud of confidentiality and not allowing public inspection of the antenna diagrams in their FCC OET filings. HTC now appears to have jumped on that bandwagon. Fortunately, the Sprint variant HTC M8 docs do reveal some antenna gain figures, and those numbers are not always divulged, diagrams or not. Of note are unity 0 dBi or positive 1 dBi antenna gains for >1 GHz bands. Compare these to the -3.5 dBi antenna gain for PCS 1900 MHz in the HTC EVO LTE.
Additionally, though this is not apparent in the table because it lists only maximum figures, the ranges of max and min ERP/EIRP within the various frequencies in each CDMA2000 band class and within the various carrier bandwidths in each LTE band are more tightly clustered, more consistent than usual. This, likewise, could indicate enhanced antenna engineering.
And, finally, the single radio path handsets that have arrived in conjunction with Sprint tri band LTE so far have generally been better RF performers. Will the HTC M8 -- or whatever it gets called -- follow suit? Early returns indicate so, but once S4GRU membership gets its hands on a few samples, field testing in the coming weeks will tell the full story.
by Rickie Smith
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 3:30 PM MST
After a long time of no news on the Sprint Direct Connect app, there is finally something to report. On February 3rd, Sprint launched its Direct Connect Now app on six devices, plus announced three other devices that will get support for it in the future.
The app is free to download, but some plans have it as a service add-on for $5 a month for unlimited use. For other plans it's a free add on feature.
Phones now supported
Galaxy Note 3
LG G Flex
LG Optimus F3
Kyocera Hydro Edge
Devices coming soon
Galaxy S4 Spark Edition
Now I haven't had any real world experience with it yet, but we would love to hear from people to see how it works compared to old Nextel Direct Connect.
Here is what we wrote about Direct Connect back in 2012: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/blog/1/entry-127-sprint-direct-connecttheres-an-app-for-that/
by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, February 3, 2014 - 8:47 AM MST
Yes, it has been a while, but welcome to S4GRU's third installment in an ongoing series about the many signal metrics available on those engineering screens hidden inside most mobile devices. Both part one and part two date back to last spring, so check those out if you have not already or if you need a refresher.
Part three has been a long time coming mostly for lack of a really relevant topic. But a question was just recently posed in The Forums here at S4GRU about EARFCNs and center frequencies for band 41 TD-LTE 2600. Previously, we covered that 3GPP relationship for band 25 LTE 1900 and touched upon it for band 26 LTE 800, but when we did so, band 41 had not yet made its domestic debut. So, now that band 41 -- christened Sprint Spark -- is being overlaid on Clearwire WiMAX sites in the top 100 markets and tri band LTE handsets are finding their way into more and more Sprint users' hands, it is due time for an educational look at those 20 MHz TDD carriers being deployed across the massive BRS/EBS 2600 MHz band.
First, let us take a look at the BRS/EBS band plan itself. Both it and band 41 encompass 2496-2690 MHz for a total of 194 MHz. The BRS spectrum is licensed -- mostly but not entirely in every market to Sprint subsidiaries. The EBS spectrum is also licensed but to educational institutions, which may then choose to lease the spectrum to commercial entities. So, even though band 41 is maximally 194 MHz wide, Sprint does not necessarily control all of that spectrum. And some of that spectrum -- such as the EBS J block and BRS/EBS K block -- is not intended for broadband uses. In other words, contiguity is periodically interrupted. Plus, WiMAX carriers still occupy much of that BRS/EBS spectrum. All told, band 41 in the US is not quite the huge blank slate that some make it out to be for Sprint to deploy 20 MHz TDD carriers.
For reference, see the BRS/EBS band plan:
Next, we will examine a couple of band 41 engineering screenshots drawn from The Forums:
Just as we did for band 25 in part one of this series, we can extract the channel numbers (i.e. EARFCNs) and enter them into an equation to calculate the band 41 center frequencies:
uplink/downlink center frequency (MHz) = 2496 + [0.1 × (EARFCN - 39650)]
Because this is TDD, not FDD, we need to use only the "DL" channel number. In TDD, there are no separate frequencies for uplink and downlink. The LG screenshot on the left properly indicates the same EARFCN for both uplink and downlink. But good old Samsung "enginerring" on the right registers a different channel for the uplink, EARFCN 58978, a number which is an invalid value. So, when working with TDD, disregard any spurious "UL" channel number.
To finish up our calculations, the range for band 41 EARFCNs is 39650-41589, so EARFCN 39991 is toward the low end of the the band, equating to a center frequency of 2530.1 MHz. And EARFCN 40978 comes out to a center frequency of 2628.8 MHz. Separated by nearly 100 MHz, the former is in the lower EBS segment, while the latter is in the contiguous BRS segment, as depicted in the aforementioned band plan graphic.
Now, that 20 MHz TDD carrier at EARFCN 40978 is the one that we have documented most commonly across Sprint Spark markets. This was not surprising, since it is deployed in the up to 55.5 MHz of contiguous BRS spectrum that Sprint is licensed, not EBS spectrum that Sprint just leases. That said, we are seeing more and more reports of other EARFCNs, such as EARFCN 39991 detailed above. In other words, the band 41 EARFCN -- unlike the one and only PCS G block band 25 EARFCN -- can vary from market to market because of differences in spectrum licensing/leasing and remaining WiMAX carriers.
Sprint's ultimate plan is to deploy multiple 20 MHz TDD carriers per market, putting it in an enviable position for satisfying the public's rapidly growing appetite for mobile data. However, do not misinterpret the multitude of current EARFCNs. We have no evidence to this point that the various EARFCNs indicate multiple 20 MHz TDD carriers in the same market. That is coming but probably will not be widespread prior to the WiMAX sunset slated for no earlier than 2015.
In conclusion, S4GRU has created a tracking thread for the various band 41 EARFCNs as they pop up from market to market. Additionally, in our DL Center, we have made available a comprehensive WiMAX/TD-LTE carrier bandwidth and center frequency spreadsheet (screenshot below) that is continually updated as new EARFCNs get reported. If you are interested, we hope that many of you will continue to help us "crowdsource" this band 41 data so that we can get a clearer picture on Sprint Spark and BRS/EBS spectrum utilization.
Sources: 3GPP, FCC
by Josh McDaniel
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, January 31, 2014
This year is shaping up to be an interesting one for Sprint handsets. In 2012, 15 LTE devices were released on the then brand new Sprint LTE 1900 network, while last year saw a 100 percent increase to 30 devices. And this year could be just as big of a year as last. So, what better way to start 2014 off right than with a tri-band LTE phone?
We present S4GRU's first FCC OET authorization article of 2014, the LG LS740, a midrange LG tri-band LTE handset not yet announced but presumably headed to Sprint. RF stats are pretty high for a midrange device, as you can see below.
CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
LTE bands 25, 26, 41 (i.e. LTE 1900/800, TD-LTE 2600)
band 25 LTE 3/5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
band 26 LTE 1.4/3/5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
band 41 LTE 10/15/20 MHz TDD carrier bandwidth
LTE UE category 4
802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
802.11n MCS index 7 (single spatial stream, 20 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
SVDO and SVLTE support absent
RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 22.121 dBm (CDMA1X 800), 21.081-22.621 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.14 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 25.06-26.82 dBm (LTE 1900), 22.901-25.211 dBm (LTE 800), 24.9-26.29 dBm (TD-LTE 2600)
Antenna locations: notably absent from this article as LG has an on again/off again attitude about when it releases antenna diagrams
Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)
According to the FCC OET docs and Sprint UA profile, system specs for this device are as follows:
Qualcomm MSM8926 (aka Snapdragon 400)
4.7 in screen
540 x 960 screen resolution
Android 4.4 KitKat
2 GB RAM
32 GB ROM
microSD slot absent
1.3 MP front camera
8 MP rear camera with full HD (1920 x 1080) video recording
Expect this device to have a mid to late spring release, and it might be the replacement to the LG F3 (LS720) Sprint released last year.
Source: FCC OET, Sprint UA Profile
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 2:12 PM MST
As most of our S4GRU readers are aware, Sprint is pursuing a three pronged approach to LTE. Tri band 25/26/41 LTE 1900/800/2600 -- the first two bands operating as FDD in Sprint and Nextel PCS 1900 MHz and SMR 800 MHz spectrum, the last operating as TDD in Clearwire BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum.
A year and a half ago in the early days of Network Vision, S4GRU was the first web site to offer a peek at a live Sprint LTE downlink carrier. We did likewise in running tri band hotspot field tests upon the emergence of Sprint/Clearwire TD-LTE 2600 in Denver this past summer.
But the missing piece in the tri band LTE strategy has been the 800 MHz spectrum and the decisive propagation advantages it brings to the table. Then, three weeks ago, S4GRU was able to start sourcing inside info on a few but growing number of band 26 site acceptances around the country. And today, S4GRU presents an exclusive first look at a live Sprint LTE 800 carrier.
From the spectrum analyzer RF sweep, we can see that this site has achieved SMR 800 MHz deployment completion. On the left is the 1.25 MHz FDD CDMA1X 800 downlink carrier at band class 10 channel assignment 476, which equates to center frequency 862.9 MHz. On this site, CDMA1X 800 was deployed earlier this year just prior to the Nextel iDEN 800 shutdown. But LTE 800 did not follow -- until now.
On the right is the newborn 5 MHz FDD LTE 800 downlink carrier. Temporarily, connections to the LTE 800 carrier are not yet allowed, so an exact EARFCN cannot be determined. But frequency domain analysis suggests a downlink EARFCN 8763, which equates to center frequency 866.3 MHz and is smack dab in the middle of the EARFCN 8761-8765 range that I predicted in one of my engineering screen articles earlier this year.
In our Premier sponsors section, S4GRU continues to track ongoing band 26 LTE 800 site acceptances, which should accelerate rapidly over the next several weeks and months. Most progress thus far is in the Chicago, Houston, Kansas, Jacksonville, and North Wisconsin markets. However, LTE 800 will continue to sprout up across the Sprint network -- outside of those areas encumbered by IBEZ restrictions with Canada and Mexico. Below is today's snapshot of the evolving LTE 800 site map.
Source: author's field test, S4GRU map data
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, November 11, 2013 - 11:55 PM MST
S4GRU Staff and Members have been anxiously waiting for over a year for smartphones that would support all three of Sprint’s LTE bands. Since April 2012, Sprint LTE devices have been limited to only one band. Band 25 (1900MHz in the PCS Band). Subsequently, Sprint closed down the Nextel network and picked up another LTE band (Band 26). Also, Sprint purchased Clearwire and picked up another LTE band that they had started to use (Band 41). So Sprint now has use of three LTE bands which will allow it to provide more capacity, better maximum LTE speeds and coverage. With now three LTE bands, Sprint needs Triband LTE phones.
S4GRU and our members really became excited in Mid 2013 when we learned through sources that the first Triband LTE smartphones would be out in late September. Shortly after that, we learned that the upcoming LG G2 would be able to support all three Sprint LTE bands via FCC reports.
Rejoicing and happy tears filled all of us wireless nerds in anticipation of the first Sprint Triband LTE devices. Then we learned through a source that Sprint Triband LTE devices would not support SVLTE (Simultaneous Voice and LTE). To some this was a setback, but the hard core wireless enthusiast was not distracted. We all wanted Triband LTE at any cost. Besides, nerds don’t spend much time on the phone talking with people.
We waited and waited, but nothing released. A few more Triband LTE devices came through the FCC, including the Nexus 5, Samsung Mega 6.3 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Then we found out that the Sprint versions of these device would not launch at the same time as their competitor counterparts. Many of our members were screaming about the delays. And we knew there had to be good reason. We just didn’t know what.
The dam finally broke with Google’s release of the Nexus 5 on Halloween. And Sprint finally broke down and released the LG G2 about a week later. S4GRU and dozens of our core members quickly got their hands on their new Triband Nexus 5’s and G2’s and all was happy. For a few minutes. Until they tried to use Sprint’s LTE network where they used to on previous LTE devices.
Some of our members reported that both the G2 and N5 had extremely strong LTE signals in Band 25. The best they have ever encountered. However, there was a very vocal group who were reporting that they could not stay connected to LTE for more than a few seconds. Something was very wrong.
We tried to troubleshoot and figure out the problem with our members. But there were no clear common denominators among the problems that we could ascertain. We could not figure it out. And then we received heads up from internal memos within Sprint as to the problem. Sprint Triband LTE devices use Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) on the network.
Sprint Triband LTE phones dropped SVLTE for eCSFB/CSFB
Up until these new Triband devices, previous Sprint LTE devices supported simultaneous voice and LTE (SVLTE). It could do so with two separate transmission paths from the antennas to the chipset. Voice/texting could run via 1xRTT on one transmission path. LTE could run a separate path, allowing data and voice to be used simultaneously.
In contrast, Sprint Triband LTE devices do not support two separate transmission paths. They have one path, shared by voice/SMS and data. We were alerted to this months in advance. However, we did not realize that the network would have to run on Circuit Switched Fallback in order for this to work and what the ramifications of this would be.
S4GRU was told by a source this past summer that Sprint and the OEM’s came to the conclusion that these new Triband LTE devices could not use SVLTE in the conventional way they used to, and it would require a lot of engineering, testing and cost to even attempt such a design change. It was decided to release Triband LTE devices without SVLTE. It may seem that the only drawback for doing that is Sprint Triband LTE devices would not be able to run simultaneous LTE data while on a phone call or when actively transmitting a text. But there is another. And it’s why many early adopters of these new Triband LTE smartphones no longer are being able to connect to Sprint LTE in many places that they used to.
How it works
In previous Sprint LTE phones, when a device was in Sprint LTE coverage it would park in both the LTE and CDMA Sprint networks at the same time. When a voice call came in, it would just go straight through to the device. And signal to the LTE network would be maintained the whole time while the call was active.
In contrast, a Sprint Triband LTE device can only stay on one technology at a time. CDMA or LTE, not both. So when a Sprint LTE Triband device is in Sprint LTE coverage it parks only in LTE. And doing so means it cannot transmit calls without Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) on the network side. CSFB and eCSFB (Enhanced Circuit Switched Fallback) are network controls that will allow a single mode/single path network to operate in two modes, both CDMA and LTE.
Here is how it works in the simplest way I can describe. When your Triband LTE device has an LTE signal, it cannot receive or make calls on its own. It is just using LTE data happily. However, what if someone calls you? How does it get through the CDMA network to your device? Via CSFB.
When the Sprint network tries to forward a call to your device but cannot see it via CDMA, it then checks for an LTE connection to your device. If it sees one, it tells your device to disconnect from LTE for a moment and reconnect to CDMA. Your device then jumps over to take the call on Sprint CDMA and the LTE session is interrupted. This happens very fast and seamlessly. Except for the loss of data availability. If you receive a text, the Sprint network is able to route it to your device via LTE.
Circuit Switched Fallback is a great solution to the issue of Sprint Triband LTE smartphones. But the problem here is that the Sprint network is being upgraded in Network Vision, and not all Sprint parts of the Sprint network can currently support CSFB. And it affects all Sprint Triband LTE phones, not just the Nexus 5 and LG G2.
Why it’s not working and impacting LTE in some places
As everyone reading this article probably knows, Sprint is in the middle of a network modernization program nationwide called Network Vision. It upgrades every piece of network hardware, site equipment, radios, software and network backhaul to every one of Sprint’s nearly 40,000 CDMA sites. And much of Sprint’s legacy network either doesn’t support Circuit Switched Fallback or doesn’t support it in cases where the legacy network equipment is by a different manufacturer than the new Network Vision equipment.
The problem that these early adopters of Sprint Triband LTE devices are encountering is that when their phones connect to the Sprint network they try to connect to LTE. And when it cannot see the CDMA network through CSFB, it then reverts back to Sprint CDMA and stays there. It does this in order to preserve device connectivity for the user to Sprint voice capability. When forcing these devices into LTE Only mode, the LTE works very well ruling out a device problem. They just are unable to use LTE in default mode without being able to have access to CSFB on the Sprint network.
How and when is this problem going away?
The good news is that most of the Sprint network is capable of supporting CSFB in some form or another now. Some markets are not having any problems at all, like Ft. Wayne/South Bend, Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, most of Chicago and Indianapolis. eCSFB is complete or very close to complete in these markets.
Upgrades to the Sprint network are being handled nationwide by three different OEM’s. Samsung, Alcatel/Lucent and Ericsson. They are in various stages of deployment and are currently impacted differently by region. In places where CSFB is in place and operational, there are no problems with using LTE on a Sprint Triband device.
And Sprint and their OEM’s are scrambling to get CSFB operational in all the other places. Some of the existing networks are capable of supporting CSFB and Sprint is working to get software upgrades in place for these networks to get it operational on them. However, some of the Sprint network has unsupported equipment from Motorola and these cannot be upgraded and will need to be replaced with their new Network Vision equipment to allow LTE and voice to work together via CSFB.
Currently, just over 60% of Sprint sites have their sites upgraded to new Network Vision 3G standards which allow Circuit Switched Fallback capability. However, not all 60% of these sites are currently allowing LTE to work on a Triband device. These all should be capable of using LTE on a Triband device now, or in the next few weeks. Many of these markets will need to have their MSC Switch Center’s software upgraded too for CSFB to work.
Beyond this, Sprint also has another 10% of their sites that have LTE operational but not the 3G upgrades that support CSFB. These 3,000 sites currently have Sprint LTE live, but it cannot be used by Triband devices without CSFB active. But there is hope for these locations. These sites do already have all the hardware needed to install upgraded 3G that will work with CSFB on the network. Sprint is scrambling with their OEM’s to get 3G up and running on these sites as soon as possible. Many have been upgraded recently and they will continue to be upgraded over the next weeks and months. I was told by an unnamed Sprint source that half of these will be CSFB capable in a month and the other half will be between 2-3 months additional beyond that.
Sprint should be in a position that in the next 3 months that their entire LTE network will be CSFB capable and this will go away. As each site gets CSFB capable, Sprint LTE Triband device owners will be able to connect to LTE. And some S4GRU Members have already experienced this and are now reporting some sites reappearing to be used by their Triband LTE devices. This is likely do to a recent enabling of CSFB at the connected site.
What about the last 30%?
The last 30% of the Sprint network is not currently affected by this problem because they have yet to be upgraded with Network Vision or LTE. These sites are in various stages of being upgraded. In internal correspondence, Sprint says they will now take into account CSFB availability before launching new markets.
Network Vision deployment will continue as normal, but OEM’s will now try to launch LTE and CDMA upgrades together at each site whenever possible and install CSFB capability at the network level for all the remaining sites. In cases where they cannot happen together, Sprint will continue to allow the LTE site to go live. But the site will only be discoverable initially to Sprint SVLTE devices. But by the time Sprint is ready to launch the whole market, CSFB will need to be operating before they issue the Press Release so customer expectations are met for all LTE device holders.
The bottom line here is that there are thousands of Sprint Triband LTE early adopters that are currently not able to connect to LTE sites that do not have a CDMA network connection that support Circuit Switched Fallback. But the problem is temporary, and improvements will go live every day around the nation reducing the number of affected sites. It will get better and better every day. However, we do not know how different markets will fare and when. It will be highly variable.
There are many advantages of being an early adopter. However in this instance, for those who are very dependent on their new found Sprint LTE service, this may be too big of a burden to bear. These folks will need to use a Sprint single LTE band device until CSFB is working in their area or, as some have threatened, use another wireless carrier.
At S4GRU, we believe that knowledge is power. This is the explanation of what’s going on, and what is being done about it. Now use the info to determine what’s best for you. Most of our members will likely just endure it and then reap the rewards once CSFB can be brought online in their area.
A parting point in all this is Sprint is promising some advantages to a single transmission path with Circuit Switched Fallback. Sprint says in their memo that Sprint Triband LTE devices with CSFB will have improved battery life and better edge of cell radio performance. We’ll be glad to enjoy those benefits when they are fully realized.
EDIT: Since the initial publishing of this article, it was discovered that Triband LTE devices were capable of sending/receiving texts via LTE. It is only voice calls that require Triband LTE devices to shunt back to the CDMA network via CSFB. The article has been edited to make this clarification.
Initial LTE devices were data only (like USB dongles and MiFis), then LTE devices with voice/text services use either SVLTE or CSFB. Finally, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) will be enabled in the coming years that will allow simultaneous voice and data without need of falling back to 3G/CDMA networks. But VoLTE is still at least 18 months or more from being instituted on a large scale.
Sprint Internal Memo regarding Circuit Switched Fallback issues:
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, October 21, 2013 - 3:55 PM MDT
Clarification: Many readers seem to be confusing the previously authorized and officially announced tri band Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini with this tri band Galaxy S4 reboot, which is full size. The two have quite different model numbers -- the Mini is SPH-L520, while as stated below, the tri band Galaxy S4 is SPH-L720T. Sprint has not yet formally acknowledged the latter, but it has passed FCC OET authorization. And S4GRU expects it to be another tri band handset available before the end of the year.
To alleviate the confusion, we are planning an overview article on Sprint Spark tri band handsets, probably to coincide with the November 8 street date next week for the first group of released handsets.
Six months ago, S4GRU published an article breaking down the FCC authorization documents for the Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy S4.
Many were disappointed that the Galaxy S4, like all other Sprint LTE devices for the past year, was limited to single band 25 LTE 1900. It was not a Sprint tri band LTE handset -- even though band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600 seemed to be right on the horizon because of the impending shutdown of the Nextel iDEN network and the likely approval of the SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire transaction. Indeed, with the arrival of several Sprint tri band mobile hotspots, TD-LTE 2600 started to become available in metros around the country late this past summer.
Today, we bring you another teaser article. The FCC OET database this afternoon uploaded the authorizations for this Samsung model number: SPH-L720T. Now, if you are familiar with the Galaxy S4, you know that its Sprint variant model number is SPH-L720. So, it does not take a genius to put 2 + 2 together. Or in this case, to put S4 + 2 together.
Yes, Samsung has just revealed a Sprint tri band Galaxy S4. It carries very similar specs to those of the original Galaxy S4, but it adds two additional Sprint bands: band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600.
So, between the previous release of the single band Galaxy S4 and the almost inevitable upcoming release of the tri band Galaxy "S5," look for a tri band updated variant for the Sprint Galaxy S4 in the coming months, probably before the end of the year.
Rest assured, this handset will be of popular interest among the faithful -- and possibly despised among those who already used a subsidized upgrade on a single band Galaxy S4 -- so we will run a full FCC OET RF breakdown in the coming days. To head off the obvious questions in the meantime, no SVDO, no SVLTE, as expected.
Before we go, though, view the antenna diagram below to see the Sprint tri band LTE goodness.
As always, stay tuned...
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, September 30, 2013 - 4:41 PM MDT
Phew, what a September it has been for discovery/announcement of new devices likely headed to Sprint! S4GRU staff has been busy keeping a watchful eye on the FCC OET. And in an egalitarian way, we have covered nearly the gamut of mobile operating systems: Android, iOS, and now, the latest OS version for BlackBerry.
Yes, ahead of a potential government shutdown tomorrow that will reportedly include FCC device authorization, a Sprint relevant BlackBerry Z30 variant was added to the FCC OET database today. This will be another teaser article, not a full RF analysis, but BlackBerry devices usually have healthy ERP/EIRP. Regardless, we have gleaned from the FCC OET documents some important details to share with you.
In a nutshell, this BlackBerry Z30 hardware variant supports the following airlinks:
band 2/5 W-CDMA 1900/850
band class 0/1/10 CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800
band 4/13/25 LTE 2100+1700/750/1900
Anyone familiar with the current state of the domestic wireless industry can put two and two together to see that this hardware variant covers the CDMA2000 and LTE capabilities of both VZW and Sprint. Additionally, because of the inclusion of the GSM/W-CDMA modes, the Z30 is probably a world phone, including GSM 900/1800 and at least band 1 W-CDMA 2100+1900. But as we have noted previously, FCC OET filings may divulge band support outside the US but are not required to do so.
The twist is that, within this single hardware Z30 variant, there do seem to exist two wireless operator versions: RFX101LW for VZW and RGB141LW for Sprint. In short, the Sprint version will include CDMA2000 band class 10 but ostensibly use firmware to lockout LTE band 4/13. So, any potential thoughts of CSIM swapping between Sprint and VZW accounts for LTE access with this handset are probably nipped in the bud. See the note from the FCC OET filing:
To sum up, the BlackBerry Z30 coming to Sprint will be effectively limited to single band 25 LTE 1900. It will definitely not be among the upcoming tri band LTE Sprint devices. And its VZW supported LTE bands will likely be inaccessible. On the upshot, it does still support SVLTE.
In only a few years, BlackBerry née RIM has gone from being the leader in smartphones to being a former champ nearly down for the count. So, do these developments -- single band LTE, VZW LTE CSIM compatibility lockout -- matter to you? If so, well, place the blame where it lies. Blame Canada.
(just barely NSFW)
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, September 13, 2013 - 3:15 PM MDT
The teaser articles continue. But this is a big one -- in a quite literal way.
The presumed Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy Note 3 passed through the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) on Wednesday this week. We have an article already started on it, so look for that full length rundown soon.
But since that SM-N900P variant hit the FCC OET, the cries about it being single band 25 LTE 1900 have been strong among the S4GRU faithful. Well, here is something potentially to make the disappointed forget those concerns.
Just within the last hour or two this Friday afternoon, another Samsung handset has revealed itself at the FCC OET. But this is no Galaxy Note 3. It is even larger than that. The model number SPH-L600 and dimensions (see the diagram below) suggest that this is a Galaxy Mega 6.3 headed to Sprint. The size exceeds that of the Galaxy Note 3, and in an interesting twist, the FCC OET filing even refers to the device as a "phablet."
The grand pronouncement, though, is that this Samsung "phablet" is indeed a tri band LTE device: band 25 LTE 1900, band 26 LTE 800, band 41 TD-LTE 2600 -- plus the usual Sprint CDMA2000 band classes.
In conclusion, the "SPH" model number and the specs add up. This is a huge handset for Sprint, it is tri band LTE, and it may render the Galaxy Note 3 irrelevant.
Enjoy! And know that there is more detailed RF info to come...
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 2:40 PM MDT
S4GRU has been on a bit of a roll of late. We had an unusually quiet summer here on The Wall, as our writing staff was frequently away on summer vacation. But we have come back with a vengeance.
Earlier this month, we got the next Nexus handset scoop on the rest of the tech press with our discovery of the reappearance of the LG D820 authorization docs at the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) and supposition that the D820 circumstantially has a striking amount in common with the presumed upcoming Nexus 5. Additionally, last week, we brought you a quick dissection of the two new Sprint variant iPhone models with dual band LTE only minutes after Apple released the specs, not to mention, another FCC OET discovery -- a tri band LTE Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 clearly headed to Sprint
All three of those articles were "Teasers." We have decided to publish shorter articles more often when longer articles may not be immediately feasible for our writing staff. Then, down the road, expect more in depth follow up pieces, such as on the Nexus 5, iPhone 5S/5C, and Galaxy Mega 6.3. Today, though, we bring you another full length FCC OET airlink article on the presumed Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Late on Wednesday last week, authorizations for multiple Samsung Galaxy Note 3 variants -- all bearing the SM-N900 base numbering scheme -- started appearing in the FCC OET database. Other tech outlets had previously gotten a list of the model numbers and tied the N900A to AT&T, N900T to T-Mobile, N900V to VZW, and N900S to Sprint. But while the "A," "T," and "V" variants all arrived in the FCC OET, the "S" variant did not make an appearance, and additional info suggested that the "S" variant is instead for SK Telecom in South Korea.
Meanwhile, the N900R4, the "R4" variant, also had its authorizations posted to the FCC OET. And at least one tech site incorrectly pegged it as the one for Sprint and other CDMA2000 operators. But that clearly missed the absence of band class 10 CDMA1X 800, which has been a staple of Sprint devices for roughly two years now. In the end, the "R4" variant is coming to CDMA2000 operators, but USCC and C Spire are the likely destinations.
So, that left the N900P, the "P" variant, for Sprint, and the circumstantial evidence of being the only version with band class 10 CDMA1X 800 supports that inference. Thus, adding to S4GRU's continuing series of articles on the FCC OET authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, and LG G2 is Sprint's expected Samsung Galaxy Note 3:
CDMA1X/EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800)
LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900)
LTE 5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
LTE UE category 4
W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850)
802.11n MCS index 7 (single spatial stream, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
802.11ac MCS index 9 (single spatial stream, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
SVLTE support, including SVLTE and mobile hotspot (both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 19.82-20.93 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 18.91-21.30 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 21.85-23.63 dBm (LTE 1900)
RF conducted power maximum: 24.75 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800)
CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)
By now, many of our readers have a solid understanding of how to analyze the bullet points listed above. As such, we will hit just some of the highlights.
Samsung has finally started adding LTE 10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth authorization to its Sprint devices. That may be inconsequential during the lifetime of these devices, but it is nice to see, nonetheless, as other OEMs have included 10 MHz FDD capability from the beginning.
The Note 3 is reportedly another world phone for Sprint. While the specs for FCC testing include only those bands licensed in the US, the GSM 850/1900 capabilities are actually quad band: GSM 850/900/1800/1900. Likewise, W-CDMA 850/1900 expands to include bands 1 and 8 for W-CDMA 2100+1900/900 outside of the US.
The Note 3 also follows the trend of devices released this summer that now support mobile hotspot via 5 GHz Wi-Fi. That can be handy in congested 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environments, and congested 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environments are now basically everywhere that people live and work.
Devices with SMR 800 MHz capability seem to be coming through the FCC OET now with only conducted power testing, instead of radiated power testing. I suspected previously that a Class II Permissive Change would be required to include ERP testing, but that seems no longer to be the case. Looking back at the Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy S4 authorization docs, they submitted only conducted power specs for CDMA1X 800. Of course, the Galaxy S4 has already been out in the world all summer. I am not sure what to make of this, but Part 90 -- which governs SMR 800 MHz -- may not require ERP testing. So, going forward, we will report conducted power if that is the only data available.
But the phrase that dare not be heard among the committed is "single band." One LTE band. That is the elephant in the room in this article. Yes, the "P" variant is band 25 LTE 1900 only. Sources have suggested to S4GRU that tri band LTE handsets headed to Sprint will not support SVLTE. As such, some have hypothesized that Sprint sacrificed tri band capability for SVLTE support in the Note 3 because it is, indeed, a "phablet." Using a "phablet" as a phone against one's ear looks clownish, so using the "phablet" in hand with an earpiece or Bluetooth headset may be expected, leading to more SVLTE usage.
However, further examination of FCC OET docs on the multiple Note 3 variants and subsequently announced Sprint version Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 tri band "phablet" pokes some holes in that SVLTE theory.
The major revelation, which will bring no solace to Sprint subs who had been expecting and are now pining for a Sprint tri band Note 3, though, is that the "R4" version headed to USCC manages to support both SVLTE and quad band LTE: band 4, 5, 12, 25 LTE 2100+1700/850/700/1900.
See the antenna locations and simultaneous transmission paths diagrams:
The big takeaway is that Samsung has managed to cram in SVLTE and multi band LTE for relatively minor regional CDMA2000 operators. Why not Sprint?
Well, the Sprint variant Note 3 is a world phone, while the regional CDMA2000 operator variant is not. And the Sprint version has to support band class 10 CDMA1X 800 and band 25 LTE 1900 -- unlike any others. Does the engineering required for world phone and Sprint boutique band/class capabilities present an obstacle to multi band LTE? Is SVLTE worth the sacrifice?
Let the discussion flow...
Source: FCC, FCC
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 1:10 PM MDT
To cut right to the chase, Apple announced at its live event today two new iPhone models: high end iPhone 5S and mid range iPhone 5C. Both are coming to Sprint and both support Sprint LTE -- but only dual band Sprint LTE. The new crop of iPhone models for the next year will not be tri band LTE handsets on Sprint.
The LTE bands supported by iPhone 5S (A1453) and iPhone 5C (A1456) are substantial and as follows: band 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26. For Sprint users, that means dual band LTE 1900/800.
While 13 total bands seems impressive, a few of those bands -- such as band 2/25 and band 5/26 -- are subset/superset bands. The big takeaway for Sprint users, though, is that band 41 is absent this year. So, TD-LTE 2600 will be coming soon to several tri band Android handsets but not to the dual band two new iPhone models. Band 38 TD-LTE 2600 is limited to the Asia/Oceania variants.
Also worthy of note, Sprint and SoftBank share the same iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C variants this year. Whether that is merely coincidence is impossible to determine. But Sprint and SoftBank have talked about combined economy of scale as a benefit of their tie up.
To conclude, the new iPhone FCC OET docs have not yet trickled out, but as they do, we will have more info to come. Stay tuned...
by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 5:33 PM MDT
About a month ago, our FCC OET reporter, Josh McDaniel, noted that a mystery handset, the LG D820, came and went from the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology). Its authorizations were uploaded, then quickly rescinded, citing confidentiality reasons.
Well, today, the LG D820 authorization documents are back. And we are looking at a 3GPP/3GPP2 handset that runs nearly the full North American wireless airlink gamut:
W-CDMA 1900/2100+1700/850 (band 2, 4, 5)
CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800 (band class 0, 1, 10)
LTE 2100+1700/850/700/1900/800 (band 4, 5, 17, 25, 26)
TD-LTE 2600 (band 41)
The only notable omission is LTE 750, VZW's currently boutique band 13 -- possibly left out for political reasons, since VZW has a strained relationship with Nexus devices, or for technical reasons, as band 13 has an inverted FDD uplink/downlink duplex. But in a nutshell, this handset looks like it could be headed to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, covering all of their bases.
Here is the kicker, though. One of our moderators, Tim Yu, noted a significant resemblance between the back plate in the FCC OET filing and the back plate of a mystery Nexus device in a widely circulated photo recently from the Google campus.
So, you be the judge. Based on the specs and pics, does the the LG D820 look like it could be the upcoming Nexus 5???
More to come...
Once enabled in "Settings - Cellular - Cellular Data Options - Enable LTE - Voice & Data", it holds through IOS updates and iPhone restarts. VoLTE is enabled by default starting in IOS 12.1.1 on iPhone 8 and higher if you are in a VoLTE market but you can turn it off if you need to for any reason by setting Enable LTE to Data Only. Turning it off reverts to phone back to using CDMA 1x/3G for calling. Even if enabled, it acts as if it is disabled whenever you are not in a VoLTE enabled market.
Since I got the 540 (isn't that the 1st generation MB?)... I've had it outside, but under a carport. I already have access to some Rohn tower sections...I just need something more able to withstand the elements. Apparently there is a solution. It should be on the way...
I've seen a difference in the upload ability of the MB gold and the 2nd gen. Before I got the gold, I was able to get 12mbps down and 5mbps upload... but with the gold, I can't get hardly any upload at all. I'm hoping this will be solved by the outdoor solution (I'm sure it will be)
Without the magic box, I get nothing at all. I can put my phone in the same place where I have the MB and I get 1x800 and sometimes b26. Not every time, very odd. The box works, obviously, but how is the weird part. Now that I'll be able to put it in a more outside area, I'm hoping I can get a much better option.
I had to one time leave my Magic Box outside two days straight for emergency internet (cable went out) and it did fine. I shielded it with a large Tupperware upside down and drilled a hole for a weather rated extension cord. It even rained a little.
Is Jason sending you like a weather resistant case for the MB? That makes sense.
This guy is quick to answer an email. Some on S4GRU might know the fringe that I live in, but for those who dont, I live in an area that has (on the magic box) a signal of around -118 to -115 with an SINR of 3.0 to 5.0 (+)..
I sent GJS an email at the email address he listed in the Q&A, and within 10 minutes he personally had replied. He was quick to give me another solution that still falls within the magic box ... I'm not sure if he would want me to disclose the exact details, but I'll now be able to place the MB outside and not have to worry about the elements.