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RSSI vs RSRP: A Brief LTE Signal Strength Primer

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, July 16, 2012 - 1:40 AM MDT   As Sprint LTE 1900 has become live and discoverable in numerous markets over this past weekend, some of our readers, especially those who are using Android 4.0 ICS based ROMs, have expressed concern at the seemingly low signal levels that they have encountered. For example, see this screenshot from an HTC EVO 4G LTE (under Settings > About > Network):   Note the -102 dBm signal level. If this were measuring CDMA1X or EV-DO, then, yes, -102 dBm would be nearing the margin of usable signal. But -102 dBm is actually relatively healthy LTE signal level. To understand why, we need to learn the differences between two types of signal measurement: Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) and Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP). First, an LTE downlink is divided into subcarriers. A 5 MHz bandwidth downlink, which is the configuration that Sprint is deploying, contains 300 subcarriers. And of those subcarriers, one in three carry LTE reference signals. In other words, of the 300 subcarriers, 100 transmit periodic reference signals. To illustrate, I captured this power vs frequency sweep with a spectrum analyzer. The LTE downlink graph comes from a Sprint site in the Kansas City area in late April, well before Sprint stopped blocking devices from live LTE sites. So, the sector depicted here exhibits no data traffic; it is transmitting only the periodic reference signals on 100 subcarriers, which you can clearly count in the graph: Now, RSSI is the more traditional metric that has long been used to display signal strength for GSM, CDMA1X, etc., and it integrates all of the RF power within the channel passband. In other words, for LTE, RSSI measurement bandwidth is all active subcarriers. If we take the above RF sweep of a Sprint 5 MHz bandwidth downlink, RSSI measures the RF power effectively of what is highlighted in yellow: RSRP, on the other hand, is an LTE specific metric that averages the RF power in all of the reference signals in the passband. Remember those aforementioned and depicted 100 subcarriers that contain reference signals? To calculate RSRP, the power in each one of those subcarriers is averaged. As such, RSRP measurement bandwidth is the equivalent of only a single subcarrier. And using our graph once more, RSRP measures the RF power effectively of what is highlighted in red: Since the logarithmic ratio of 100 subcarriers to one subcarrier is 20 dB (e.g. 10 × log 100 = 20), RSSI tends to measure about 20 dB higher than does RSRP. Or, to put it another way, RSRP measures about 20 dB lower than what we are accustomed to observing for a given signal level. Thus, that superficially weak -102 dBm RSRP signal level that we saw previously would actually be roughly -82 dBm if it were converted to RSSI. To conclude, here are a few takeaways about RSSI and RSRP as signal strength measurement techniques for LTE: RSSI varies with LTE downlink bandwidth. For example, even if all other factors were equal, VZW 10 MHz LTE bandwidth RSSI would measure 3 dB greater than would Sprint 5 MHz LTE bandwidth RSSI. But that does not actually translate to stronger signal to the end user. RSSI varies with LTE subcarrier activity -- the greater the data transfer activity, the higher the RSSI. But, again, that does not actually translate to stronger signal to the end user. RSRP does a better job of measuring signal power from a specific sector while potentially excluding noise and interference from other sectors. RSRP levels for usable signal typically range from about -75 dBm close in to an LTE cell site to -120 dBm at the edge of LTE coverage.   Sources: 3GPP, author's graphs

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Nexus 5 and LG G2 experience temporary Sprint LTE connectivity issues due to Circuit Switched Fallback technology

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.   Conclusion 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:

S4GRU

S4GRU

What is a PRL?

by Travis Griggs
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 10:00 AM MST
A PRL file is a Preferred Roaming List. In simple terms, it tells the device how to scan for various wireless cell systems, which ones are native, and which priority to use them in. If there isn't a native Sprint signal available, the PRL defines which roaming partners to scan for, which ones should be used, and in what order of preference to scan for them in. Contrary to belief and what some Sprint reps may tell say, a PRL is not a list of cell sites. You do not need a new PRL update to receive service from a new cell site. Nor will a PRL update result in faster Sprint EVDO (3G) speeds either. Of course there are a few exceptions to these rules with roaming agreements and/or Network Vision in the picture, but we will explain that later. PRL updates have nothing do with 4G WiMax coverage either. On some 4G LTE chipsets such as Qualcomm, the PRL determines if LTE is enabled for the geographic region you are in. So how does a PRL really work? Before I can start to explain the inner workings of a PRL, there are few terms for reference: A PRL is broken down into a three tier system: GEO - Geographic areas (regions), they are commonly referred to as a GEO. SID - System IDs assigned to the various carriers. NID - Network IDs are assigned by carriers to break a SID up. Common wireless bands found in US CDMA PRLs: PCS Band - 1900mhz PCS band in the US (A block, B block, etc) - Band Class 1 or 25 Cellular band - 850mhz cellular band in the US (A and B side) - Band Class 0 SMR band - 800mhz band used previously by Nextel. CDMA 1xA is in active deployment - Band Class 10 Other terms: Channel – assigned frequency within a band (200, 476, 350, etc) Negative (Neg) Network – SID/NID is prohibited (only 911 calls allowed) Preferred (Pref) Network – SID/NID is allowed for acquisition and usage Preferred Only PRL - only the SIDs specified in the PRL are allowed for acquisition When a device is powered up for the very first time, the phone will start at the top of the PRL and start searching through the list of SIDs for a native Sprint signal. This usually happens very quickly. Once your phone acquires a SID in your GEO, the devices will stay within the GEO for any additional searching for SIDs before it goes out looking in other GEOs again. This gives your phone a quicker response time of finding another SID when it needs to. If you have ever noticed it takes a little longer to find a signal when the flight attendant states you may now use your wireless devices, this is your phone searching the last known GEO, the devices then gives up and starts searching the other GEOs until it finds one to acquire. The SID/NID records within the GEO have their various priorities and channel/band scans assigned to them. A SID is the regional number assigned to wireless system. A NID is used by a cellular carrier to break up a large SID into smaller pieces for further localizing scans/rules. For instance a SID that has two large metro areas could have a NID of 51 for one area and 52 for the other area. The record would be listed as 4159/51 and 4159/52. If Sprint needs to apply different rules and/or acquisition channels to either NID it will put a record for each one. If no local rules are needed, the NID is listed as 65535 to encompass all NIDs within the one SID. In the PRL analysis reports, any NID of 65535 is suppressed as it is not needed. It may sound confusing at times but it is a simple three tiered system; GEO area, SID, then NID. In the PRL example above there are 5 SIDs assigned to Geo #4. The first two have a roaming indicator of 0, meaning a native Sprint signal. 22411 and 4159 have a priority of 1. These two SIDs do not necessarily have a preference in which either is used since they are the same priority but the device will scan for 22411 first. If 4159 is acquired, the device will not actively seek another network to use. During various sleep periods and/or timers the device could scan/acquire 22411 though. Once the device finds itself without a usable signal from 4159 or 22411, the scan will proceed into the next priority group. The next priority group of 2 has SID 4279 and a roaming indicator presented to the user. The device will acquire 4279 and notify the network carrier of its presence. The device will actively and aggressively continue to search for a non-roaming signal. Due to this continued scanning this may cause the radio chipset to not enter into the power saving sleep modes causing increased battery usage. As long as SID 4279 is available, the device will not search for SID 4160 with the priority of 3. 85 is a NEG network meaning your phone is not allowed to use this network for any reason other than 911 calls. What happens when Sprint installs a new cell site? I will say it again and again. You do not need a PRL update to use a new cell site, you do not need a PRL update to use a new cell site. Many Sprint reps will swear up and down that a PRL update is required to use new cell sites. This is incorrect! Many Airaves are activated and deactivated everyday but yet we don't see new PRL updates for these everyday. Using the example above, the phone is attached to Sprint 4159/51 using the same cell sites that were active on the previous day. Today the Sprint crews activated a new cell site to extend coverage a few more miles down the highway. Sprint will configure this cell site with the same licensed channels for the area and also configure it as a 4159/51 site. The devices in this area will use this new site without ever needing any type of PRL update. I've only scratched the surface of the various inner workings of the PRL file. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article. The next article will take a more in-depth look on EVDO records, MCC/MNC records for LTE, 800mhz SMR for Network Vision, and much more.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint Marketing Updates 4G LTE City List where work is under way and adds 36 more communities including Louisiana market start

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 10:20 AM MST   In the latest news from Sprint, they have added another 36 additional communities that they anticipate having at least a prelaunch amount of service available to use by its LTE customers in the "coming months." We were not able to confirm any dates for these cities with any of our sources this morning, but I would imagine there will be a usable amount of service in these areas by the end of March. Most of these markets will not be a surprise to S4GRU members, with the exception of the Louisiana market. As this is a new market that we have never announced. In this announcement, Sprint did not identify that these communities will be in a prelaunch stage. However, this will be the case. We here at S4GRU appreciate that Sprint is opening up LTE sites to be used as soon as they are complete. Even though it creates a patchy and non cohesive LTE network over cities that they have prelaunch service, I for one, enjoy being able to use LTE when and where it is available. Most markets will take a long time from prelaunch phase until they have ubiquitous coverage over the whole area. A few months to a year, depending on the market size and deployment rate. See the city list below and their corresponding markets: Abbeville, LA (Louisiana market) Beaumont/Port Arthur, TX (Louisiana market) Blytheville, AR (Arkansas market) Brainerd, MN (Minnesota market) Bridgeport/Stamford/Norwalk, CT (Southern Connecticut market) Brownsville/Harlingen, TX (South Texas market) Crowley, LA (Louisiana market) Dalton, GA (Nashville market) Duluth, MN (Minnesota market) Dunn, NC (Raleigh/Durham market) Durham/Chapel Hill, NC (Raleigh/Durham market) Eau Claire, WI (Minnesota market) Greenwood, SC (South Carolina market) La Crosse, WI (Minnesota market) Jackson, TN (Memphis market) Lafayette, LA (Louisiana market) Lawton, OK (Oklahoma market) Little Rock/North Little Rock/Conway, AR (Arkansas market) Mankato/North Mankato, MN (Minnesota market) Muskogee, OK (Oklahoma market) New Haven/Milford, CT (Southern Connecticut market) New Iberia, LA (Louisiana market) North Wilkesboro, NC (Charlotte market) Oklahoma City, OK (Oklahoma market) Palm Coast, FL (Orlando market) Pine Bluff, AR (Arkansas market) Ponca City, OK (Oklahoma market) Raleigh/Cary, NC (Raleigh/Durham market) San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, CA (South Bay market) Salinas, CA (South Bay market) Santa Cruz/Watsonville, CA (South Bay market) Searcy, AR (Arkansas market) Springfield, MA (Boston market) St. Cloud, MN (Minnesota market) Stillwater, OK (Oklahoma market)   EDIT: There seems to be a lot of confusion out there, especially among Facebook readers, that cities have been removed from Sprint's LTE deployment list. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! The list above are "additional" cities being added to the list. Sprint has now announced approximately 150 cities total where work is under way. No cities have been removed. In fact, Sprint will start work in every market in 2013. Sprint is deploying LTE nationwide as a part of its Network Vision upgrades.  

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint Marketing Releases a 4G LTE City List where work is under way

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, September 10, 2012 - 8:05 AM MDT   This morning, we received a Press Release from Sprint Marketing that shows some of Sprint's plan in their LTE deployment through the end of the year. In this Press Release, Sprint officially names 12 more markets that have received/starting to receive LTE deployments currently, and names more than 100 communities names. None of these are any surprise to people who follow S4GRU closely, especially those with access to Sponsor content. In fact, this Press Release is a big confirmation of all of our data to date. This will be an exciting update to the millions of Sprint customers in these areas and now makes many more markets official. Stay with S4GRU to plot the progress!  

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint Marketing Updates 4G LTE City List where work is under way and adds 9 more communities

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, November 12, 2012 - 12:39 AM MDT   In the latest news from Sprint, they have added another nine additional communities that they anticipate having at least a prelaunch amount of service available to use by its LTE customers in the next few months. Based on a source, these are expected to have usable service by the end of January, barring any unforseen conditions.   What's exciting in this list, is it includes not only areas where Sprint is already working (like Oakland/East Bay, Michigan City/LaPorte, Bloomington and Key West), but it also includes some starts in new markets like Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arkansas and South Texas. We have already had S4GRU members seeing activity in the Minnesota market recently. S4GRU has announcedg that work would begin in the Oklahoma market this Winter several months ago. However, the work in Arkansas and South Texas markets represent a move up in the schedule. This is welcome news.   It is no accident that Sprint outlines that the LTE signals that are discovered in these areas are "prelaunch." Sprint is trying to set expectations that these are advance LTE signals that will be usable to customers. It's great that Sprint will allow these sites to be usable pretty quickly after they are complete. But as we have seen around our forums and our social media pages, there is a pretty vocal part of their customer base who expects to have wall to wall coverage immediately upon receiving their first LTE signal. It is important that these people understand that they are getting to use their LTE sites really early, before the whole network is ready. And this is a good thing.   Most markets will take a long time from prelaunch phase until they have ubiquitous coverage over the whole area. A few months to a year, depending on the market. See the city list below and their corresponding markets: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (Minnesota market) Fort Smith, AR (Arkansas market) Ardmore, OK (Oklahoma market) Oakland/Fremont/Hayward, CA (SF Bay market) Michigan City/La Porte, IN (Chicago market) McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, TX (South Texas market) Key West, FL (Miami/West Palm market) Bloomington, IN (Indianapolis market) Eau Claire, WI (Minnesota market)    

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

(UPDATED) All for HTC One, HTC One for all?

by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, February 22, 2013 - 2:55 PM MST   Update: Many hands on reviews of the HTC One are emerging this week. Courtesy of Engadget, we can report that the Sprint variant is one of the very first Sprint LTE handsets to include a removable micro-SIM. Removable SIM cards have long been part of the Network Vision roadmap for 2013, so it looks like that time may have arrived.   S4GRU welcomes you to the first major Sprint handset announcement of 2013. Earlier this week, the upcoming HTC One was revealed at an event in New York City. Not to be confused with last year's HTC One X, the HTC One is the new flagship of the line and will be offered by dozens of carriers around the world, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. Last year, Sprint got essentially a customized version of the HTC One X in the HTC EVO 4G LTE. This year, however, another EVO handset is not currently in the offing, and Sprint is joining its fellow carriers in standardizing around a universal HTC One platform. The only notable customization is for Sprint's specific CDMA2000 band classes and LTE band. And that Sprint variant had its authorization documents uploaded to the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database earlier today.   If you have followed our series of articles on the EVO LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, then you know what is at hand. Here is an RF focused breakdown of the HTC One coming to Sprint: CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
LTE band class 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks)
LTE 5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
LTE UE category 3
802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
802.11n MCS index 7, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth
802.11ac MCS index 9, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth
SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi tether
NFC
Antenna 0 max RF ERP/EIRP: 20.10 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.80 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 19.23 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 12.30 dBm (LTE 1900)
Antenna 1 max RF ERP/EIRP: 13.78 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 13.58 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 14.27 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 23.63 dBm (LTE 1900)
Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
Simultaneous transmission modes: (see FCC OET diagram below)
    As for analysis of the specs, the HTC One is the world's first handset to include the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. But let us address right away another potential first that has become the so called elephant in the room. The Sprint version of the HTC One is limited to band 25 LTE 1900. It does not support either of Sprint's upcoming LTE bands -- band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600. One or both of those bands are expected to be incorporated in new handsets sometime this year, but the HTC One will not be the first.   The other notable absence is SVDO support for simultaneous CDMA1X voice + EV-DO data, though its omission is growing less and less notable as time goes on. SVDO requires separate RF paths for CDMA1X and EV-DO. The first few Sprint LTE handsets did support SVDO, utilizing separate paths for CDMA1X and EV-DO/LTE. But the last nine Sprint LTE handsets have foregone SVDO, combining CDMA1X/EV-DO on a single path, so SVDO was likely just a temporary measure or a fringe benefit of the Qualcomm MSM8960 chipset and will not be a common Sprint handset feature going forward.   In its press release earlier this week, Sprint calls its HTC One an "international" smartphone, and that could be interpreted to mean world roaming capabilities. The FCC authorization documents show no evidence of this, but they are not required to do so, since the FCC is a US authority. What is lacking, though, is any GSM 850/1900 or W-CDMA 850/1900. So, if the HTC One is world roaming capable, it will most likely be limited to GSM 900/1800 and band 1 W-CDMA 2100+1900.   Since the HTC One is really the de facto successor to the EVO LTE, a little bit of comparison would be in order. In our RF rundown article on the EVO LTE last spring, we stated that it "does not look to be a stellar RF performer" based on its low to moderate ERP/EIRP figures. And our prediction proved quite prescient, as the EVO LTE has not been noted for its performance with weak signals. The good news is that, on paper, the HTC One looks to be a notable improvement in this regard.   First, the dual antenna system is optimized for CDMA1X/EV-DO on antenna 0 and LTE on antenna 1. But as long as only one antenna is in use (i.e. SVLTE is not active), the dual antennas can be switched at will to combat an RF fade at one antenna but not the other. Second, LTE max EIRP has been increased by 4 dB over that of the EVO LTE. Furthermore, LTE EIRP has been maximized around the 1912.5 MHz center frequency, 5 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth configuration that Sprint is currently deploying nationwide in its PCS G block spectrum. In short, the Sprint variant of the HTC One has been tweaked specifically for the Sprint LTE network.   Source: FCC

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

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:     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

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

What is a PRL? - Part 2 - EVDO

by Travis Griggs
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:15 AM MDT   In Part 1 of the "What is a PRL?" series we covered the the initial basics and building blocks of the PRL which covered the 1X portion of the wireless connection. I encourage you to read the article if you have not already done so. You may have seen the various claims of receiving faster or even slower speeds with the mysterious PRL update procedure that seems to randomly happen to our devices. In reality it could be possible that nothing changed in regards to EVDO at all in the PRL. After a PRL update is applied to the device, whether it is pushed from Sprint or user initiated, the CDMA radio will reset just like when airplane mode is cycled on and off. This causes the device to reacquire with the network which could change the site and/or channel the device was using previously. AJ wrote an excellent article, "Can toggling airplane mode actually improve your 3G data speeds?" explaining the EVDO acquisition process. With all that being said let's jump right in and look at a small piece of the PRL to determine how a device connects to the EVDO network.
 
In a mock scenario, the device scanned and did not find signal for the SIDs 22443, 22430, etc but was able to acquire 4159. The device will then check to see if any data records are associated with the connection. The assn tag field for 4159 is a 5. Any records inside this one geo block are checked for the assn tag of 5. In some Sprint PRL versions, the creators have failed to place the EVDO record in the correct geo creating a type of orphaned EVDO record issue, but this is not the case with this example. Record #279 has an assn tag match for the value of 5. The record is analyzed and it is determined that the device will use acquisition record #59 with a 0084:0AC0 subnet and no roaming indicator. If no EVDO signal can be found in the area with this search criteria, the device will fall back to using 1X for data and periodically scan for EVDO. The EVDO subnet is very similar to a SID, but since it is a 128 bit address scheme it offers more combinations than a SID. If needed, the provider could actually assign different priorities to individual sectors of one cell site using the subnet IDs. You may have already noticed multiple SIDs in this block share the assn tag of 5 along with the same acquisition records. The PRL is designed like a relational database where redundant data is shared to save space. So, how does the device know which channels to scan for EVDO? Let's look at the acquisition records of 2 and 59 used by SID 4159.

The PCS band channels 50, 75, 100, 175, 200, 250, and 25 are used to scan for SID 4159 1X. These are not the only channels that you device will actually use. These are only used to acquire the initial CDMA handshake. The basestation of the site may direct the handset to rest on channel 25 but during an active phone call channel 150 might be used if the other available channels are at capacity. For EVDO, the device will scan 75, 175, 225, and 250 with a subnet of 0084:0AC0. If another carrier's EVDO signal happens to be on one of these channels it will be ignored as the subnets do not match. Just like on the 1X side and explained in AJ's EVDO article referenced above, the channel scan is only utilized for the initial EVDO handshake. The cell site may have a channel available that is not on the PRL list, which your device could end up using based on the basestation configuration. After attempting to digest all of this material you can see how the new PRL file itself is usually not why the speeds decreased or increased. If the spectrum licenses allowed for it in the area, Sprint could add an additional EVDO carrier channel of 300 to all of the neighboring sites and all of the handsets will be able to use it. The users in this area would probably see faster speeds due to this without a single PRL update.

How does EVDO roaming work? In this example the device is connected to SID 4160 which is Verizon Wireless. Using the same analysis explained above, we see a data record of 5 is assigned. "Wait! I thought Sprint used data record 5 already?" This is correct. While your device is roaming on 4160 for 1X connectivity it is also scanning for Sprint EVDO. In order to save on roaming costs, Sprint has designed the PRLs this way. One negative impact on the user is additional battery drain due to this scan combined with the already active scan to find a non-roaming 1X signal. In the standard PRL for residential accounts, EVDO roaming on Verizon Wireless is not allowed. You will only find EVDO roaming on smaller regional CDMA carriers in some areas. On certain corporate accounts, Sprint configures devices with PRLs allowing Verizon Wireless EVDO roaming. While roaming, whether it be 1X or EVDO, the Sprint Terms & Conditions state: "Sprint reserves the right, without notice, to deny, terminate, modify, disconnect or suspend service if off-network usage in a month exceeds: (1) voice: 800 min. or a majority of minutes; or (2) data: 300 megabytes or a majority of kilobytes." Stay tuned for part 3 of the “What is a PRL?” series. We will cover the 800SMR SIDS, 800SMR acquisition records, and the coveted MCC/MNC LTE records shown in the PRL screen shots above.

digiblur

digiblur

Sprint planning large network expansion adding 9,000 new LTE sites nationwide

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 2:45 PM MST   Sprint is embarking on a significant expansion of its network. The first major addition of compatible sites to its network in a decade. Past expansion has been limited to buyouts of Nextel and Clearwire, both of which included networks of different technologies. Organic growth has not been on the table for Sprint in some time. Sprint is expected to announce these plans in the not too distant future, once finalization of details and funding is complete.   Since the beginning of the year, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has hinted to this network expansion in social media and in pep talks to various Sprint employees. Some of whom have contacted S4GRU after hearing Marcelo’s vague references in meetings about the upcoming expansion. But this is the first time we have received specific information from inside Sprint.   The purpose of these 9,000 new sites is to expand coverage into new markets, add critical rural coverage where high roaming occurs, capture lost coverage from the shutdown of the old Nextel iDEN network, extend coverage to new suburban areas, and densify the network within existing coverage.   This plan is very targeted by market and includes a significant capital spend investment. The affected areas are seen as critical to Sprint for future growth and reduction of operating expenses in key roaming areas.   With the useable area of Sprint’s low frequency spectrum in the SMR 800 band about to expand even to the border areas, thus allowing nationwide coverage, the buildout of new markets and new rural areas has never been more practical or obtainable to Sprint. Allowing for new areas to have a less tight buildout requirement in site density in small towns and along highways and increase signal strength indoors in cities. The new management of Sprint sees this as the point at which they can move forward and accomplish these once seemingly lofty goals.   The juicy details   S4GRU recently received some details of the project from an internal Sprint source, speaking off the record. The current details of the plan breakdown as follows: 1,100 - Decommissioned iDEN sites converted for new Sprint CDMA/LTE coverage and increased density in some key under served areas (Dualband and Triband) 1,600 – New coverage expansion sites targeting high roaming areas and key identified market expansion areas (Dualband and Triband) 800 – New Dualband sites in exurban and new suburban areas places with new or projected population growth 500 – New Triband sites in Urban and Suburban areas to infill coverage where 1900 and 2600 currently do not reach or reach well and 800 capacity would also be improved 5,000 – New Urban and Suburban TDD-LTE 2600 “Spark” only sites infilling existing coverages for better signal quality, indoor performance, and capacity. It is not known the mix of macro sites and small cell sites. One exciting part of this addition to S4GRU is capturing decommissioned iDEN sites. This is something that we have long advocated. In a takeoff I did of the iDEN sites back in 2012, I estimated that Sprint needed only approximately 1,000 of the iDEN sites to equalize coverage for the CDMA/LTE network and densify some critical areas of some lacking markets. Like Baton Rouge and Grand Rapids. Perhaps decision makers at Sprint read S4GRU after all? I am happy to see my estimate was quite close to theirs.   Interestingly, there is no mention of Clearwire only sites that are in good locations for Sprint to expand or densify Network Vision CDMA and LTE. Not to mention also the 700+ Clearwire Protection Sites. Many of which are in places Sprint does not currently offer service. Like my corner of the Dakotas.   Project Ocean   In addition to this new Expansion Project, Sprint also already has two existing projects under way for targeted regional expansion based on recent acquisition. In Missouri and Central Illinois, Sprint is working on Project Ocean, which involves adding more than 100 former U.S. Cellular sites. Some of these sites are already online with many more coming online within the next 6-8 months.   The bulk of these adds are in Suburban St. Louis. However, there are a couple dozen rural USCC sites that are also being captured in the Project Ocean program. Sites where demographics are supportive to expansion or high roaming costs make the additional sites worthwhile.   Project Cedar   A thousand miles to the northwest, Sprint is embarking on Project Cedar in Montana. A plan to add 230 sites to the Sprint network in the Treasure State. Sprint purchased the defunct network assets from Chinook Wireless back in August of 2014. Chinook Wireless operated their service under the Cellular One name in Montana. Project Cedar takes the Chinook Wireless decommissioned sites and adds Network Vision DualBand and TriBand sites in their place.   We assume Project Cedar is being done by Samsung, as past geographic maps from Sprint show this area to be Samsung. There was a Field Implementation Test (FIT) for LTE Band 26 (SMR 800MHz) done by Samsung in Montana back in 2013. We never did find out where in Montana this FIT was conducted, and it may even be live for commercial traffic now. S4GRU members travelling in Montana, be on the look out for B26 LTE signals and new Samsung equipment being installed.   In my cursory review, it appears that the footprint offered by Chinook would have been served by 120-140 sites at best using PCS 1900 spacing. Since Sprint is looking to do 90-110 more than that, it’s possible Sprint could be extending service well into the Dakotas and Wyoming under this project. Beyond the reach of the old Cellular One coverage area.   I could see them covering all the Chinook coverage plus I-25, I-90, I-94 in Wyoming and the Dakotas as well as Casper, Gillette, Rapid City, Pierre, Williston and Bismarck with 230 sites. Heck, convert Swiftel’s 50 sites in Eastern South Dakota while you’re at it! Swiftel is a sore subject with us, and we will save that for another day.   Funding and implementation   According to the source, Project Ocean and Project Cedar are already funded. The additional 8,000 site expansion with unknown project name has funding earmarked for its planning and initial start. However funding sources and final scope are being worked out. It is likely Sprint will make no comment on the matter until these last two items are resolved probably next quarter.   However, Sprint is already moving on initial planning and key sites as they come available. No good opportunity will be lost during the planning process. And maybe there are some more regional plans in play?  

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint LTE launch market connection issues

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 12:59 PM MDT   As many of you already know, the ability to connect and keep connected to LTE signals in Sprint's launch markets has been problematic for Sprint customers. What's going on? Here at our forums at S4GRU, we have been busy talking with our members and trying to figure out the issue since LTE markets started going live last Thursday. Some members were able to connect early and often. Some had problems and were able to eventually connect. Some have been unable to stay connected. Some have never connected, even standing right next to a live LTE site. We have now complied a lot of data from our members and have drawn some observational conclusions. There are two main issues, connecting to LTE can be a challenge on some devices (especially the EVO LTE), and the signal thresholds are not optimum to keep connected to LTE before getting pushed back to the 3G EVDO network.   I am in a confirmed LTE area with a strong signal but cannot connect Some LTE devices just do not want to connect to LTE. With the EVO LTE, some of our members have complained that they even stood next to a confirmed operating LTE site and the 4G icon would not appear. For most of these folks though, cycling from CDMA/LTE mode, back to CDMA only mode and then back to CDMA/LTE mode forces the phone to look for a LTE signal. This has worked for most people I have talked with who have an EVO LTE and know they are in a strong LTE signal area. This also seems to help some other LTE devices sometimes. There most likely is an issue where these devices are not scanning for LTE service like they should be. When you go out of CDMA/LTE mode and then come back in, the first thing the device does is scan for LTE service. Hopefully, Sprint will get an OTA out that fixes this issue soon.   I can connect to LTE but it goes back to 3G EVDO Other members have discussed how they can connect to 4G LTE, whether automatically or by forcing it (as described above), but it goes back to 3G EVDO. They cannot keep a Sprint LTE connection. This may happen right away, or this may happen as they drive down the road, or after they pick up the device. By the best we can tell, this is being caused by the LTE signal thresholds programmed in the device(s). When your device is in CDMA/LTE mode, it seeks LTE first. If it finds LTE, it should connect, but if it doesn't have a strong enough signal, it shunts the user off to 3G, sometimes in seconds. The devices have a minimum LTE signal programmed in them (it appears to be somewhere in the midrange and could be slightly different between devices). If the LTE minimum signal that is programmed is maintained, the device stays connected to LTE, no problems in most instances. So if you have a strong LTE signal after you connect, you will most likely keep it. However, if you have a midrange LTE signal, you will likely get bumped back down to 3G EVDO if you should move farther away from the signal, or maybe even pick up the device. Most devices will drop a few dBm of signal when being held, and it could be enough to move you back down to 3G. If you have a weak LTE signal, then you are almost doomed. You will not likely be able to stay connected to LTE for very long and most likely be shunted back to 3G pretty quickly. An exception to this we noted is if you are also in a weak 3G area. But if you have a strong 3G signal and a weak LTE signal, you are most likely not going to be able stay connected with the current thresholds programmed.   What can Sprint do? I know this is very frustrating for most of you. We all want it to work flawlessly. But this is part of the process. Sprint needs our constructive feedback so they can make changes. There are drawbacks to being early adopters. That is the point of this article. To wrap up some meaningful and thoughtful feedback from our members into a single comprehensive piece and give to Sprint for them to work on. As well as educate our members and readers into some of the information we have been able to determine. Sprint, please work with your OEM's right away on OTA's to adjust the thresholds for keeping LTE signals, as well as addressing the cycling through CDMA only mode to get devices to make initial LTE connection. One key point that I hear over and over again is that LTE customers would rather have a weak LTE signal than a strong 3G signal. Weak LTE still performs better than even good 3G in most instances. If anyone from Sprint would like to reach out to me and provide any updates of what they are doing to address the problem, I would love to receive a PM, email or Direct Message on Twitter. I will then be happy to provide an update for our members and readers.   What can we do now? With WiMax devices, we could actually change the WiMax signal threshold ourselves. However, we have not been able to locate anywhere in the LTE devices where that can be done. So we are in a waiting position to see if Sprint will help us. If you absolutely cannot connect to LTE or stay connected to LTE, you can force your device into LTE only mode. If you do this, you will lose access to 3G EVDO and 1x services while in this mode. But it is reversible at any time. It requires your device's MSL code, though. You can get your MSL code by using some apps like MSL Reader, or by using a Terminal Emulator with some models. You can search the web for ways to get your MSL code of your particular device. Some people can even get it from Sprint CSR's. Once you have your MSL code, go into your phone dialer and enter ##DATA# (*#*#DATA#*#* on the Galaxy Nexus). A menu will open and ask you to select Edit or View. Select Edit. Enter your MSL number. Now in each device, there may be some variability in the next steps. Select the Others button, then choose HDR/1X selection. Select LTE Only mode. Now you will only be able to connect to LTE, no 3G or 1x. However, you will not be able to make/receive phone calls or text in this mode. Data only. Once in LTE Only mode, you will only be able to connect to LTE signals. Even weak LTE signals. And you will not have to worry about getting shoved off into 3G. This will allow you to test your LTE, and make sure your LTE is indeed working in your device. You could stay parked in this mode if you wanted to. You just wouldn't be able to use the phone or text. To restore to normal, just go back in the same way and select LTE/CDMA or LTE/CDMA/EVDO, depending on your device. If going into LTE only mode you are still unable to connect to LTE, then you are either not in LTE coverage like you thought you were, or your device has a problem. This is all we know at this time. We will update with more information as we learn it. Thank you to all who helped gather this information from the field. You guys are what make S4GRU an awesome place!  

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

Minnesota Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule update

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 7:30 AM MDT   The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is...Minnesota. The Minnesota market has yet to be announced by Sprint, and may not be announced until as late as this Fall.   The Sprint Minnesota market encompasses most of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. This includes the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul and suburbs), Duluth/Superior, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato, Brainerd, Bemidji, Winona, Eau Claire and La Crosse. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Samsung is scheduled to begin mobilizing their subcontractors around the market in late August. The first completed Network Vision sites are scheduled to start coming online in September.   Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in April, these are the anticipated sites that would likely have LTE complete at that time. This would provide fairly good LTE coverage over many parts of the market.   Schedule details and the bottom line   Sprint has not yet selected a date to formally "launch" LTE service in Minnesota. It is difficult to try to pick a date now this far out, but we have attempted to do that. In looking at the schedule as of today, it would indicate a April market launch (going on a 40% - 50% completion for launch). But there is no way to know if Samsung and their subcontractors will actually hit their schedule dates before deployment in this market begins. We will be able to gauge better after a few months of production is achieved.   Samsung needs to hit a production rate of approximately 65 sites per month to stay on schedule. This is a big chunk to complete monthly, but is doable with the appropriate amount of resources allocated.   S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by September 2013. However, there may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion. Photo of Downtown Minneapolis provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.   NOTE: S4GRU Sponsor Members can track regular updates of Network Vision sites completed nationwide. Completed sites are shown in an interactive Google Maps interface. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint is proceeding with a VoLTE network that focuses on interoperability with Domestic and International VoLTE carriers

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.   Key Points 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.

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

HTC EVO successor to "Jet" onto the scene June 10th

by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Sunday, March 18, 2012 - 9:15 AM MDT   But wait, there's more! Obtained from the same internal Sprint sources that allowed S4GRU to break the news earlier this weekend of the April 15th launches for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Viper, is intriguing info about a third LTE handset, the HTC codenamed Jet, set to land at a Sprint Store near you on June 10th. This happens to be nearly two years to the date that the HTC EVO launched as Sprint's first 4G WiMAX capable handset.   S4GRU has connected the dots and projects the HTC Jet to be the Sprint version of the LTE capable HTC One high end handset introduced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month and a version of which is also soon headed to AT&T. The One X is the only announced HTC handset to utilize the recently debuted and benchmarked Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 chipset and to include Near Field Communication (NFC) capability. The Jet matches both of those specs, suggesting that the Jet will be a CDMA1X/EV-DO/LTE entry in the One X lineup.   Below are some of the One X and/or MSM8960 specs likely or known to carry over to the Jet: 1.5 GHz dual core "Krait" (28 nm) CPU
1 GB RAM
CDMA1X, EV-DO Rev 0/A/B, LTE (UE category 3)
LTE band class 25 (PCS A-G blocks)
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
4.7' S-LCD 1280x720 screen
Corning Gorilla Glass 2
Solid polycarbonate body
What remains to be seen about the Jet, unlike the Galaxy Nexus and Viper, is its actual name. HTC has instituted a plan to simplify its handset lineup both in number and in name. Going forward, HTC intends to brand all of its handsets under some variation of the One name (e.g. One X, One S). However, many have expressed that the EVO name is an important brand associated with Sprint that should carry on.   So, could the Jet launch as the HTC One EVO? Will it simply be called the HTC One X for Sprint? Or might HTC Jet actually be more than just a codename? Regardless of the name, the release date and the specs indicate that this high end, very large screen LTE capable handset is the true successor to the WiMAX capable EVOs that came before it. Photo courtesy of Androidandme.com     Sources: Sprint, HTC, Phone Arena, AnandTech

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Sprint Affiliate Shentel to launch LTE on 125 sites in 56 communities in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania on Black Friday

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 12:55 PM MST   The Regional Affiliate Shentel that provides Sprint service from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley up into Central Pennsylvania is preparing to launch Network Vision improvements and LTE service in a significant portion of its coverage area on Black Friday. Many sites have quietly gone online over the past few months in these areas. However, a source close to the Shentel deployment has now provided S4GRU a list of all 125 sites that are planned to be a part of this formal launch the day after Thanksgiving. In total, there are 56 cities that will receive service in Northwestern Virginia, the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, Western Maryland and South Central Pennsylvania. Alcatel Lucent is the Network Vision OEM for Shentel and has been active in the market since June. Cities that will have launchable service by the end of this week include Harrisburg PA, York PA, Hagerstown MD, Martinsburg WV, Winchester VA and Harrisonburg VA and many smaller Shentel communities. There is a complete list below. Although this is a good chunk of Shentel territory that will be enjoying upgraded 3G and high speed LTE coverage, deployment is far from over. This launch only includes approximately 20% of the entire Shentel network. Alcatel Lucent and Shentel will continue with deployment over the next year bringing upgrades to all of Shentel-land. Many of launched areas will receive even more sites converted (for denser coverage and better performance) and the remaining Shentel communities will receive upgrades. Sprint customers with LTE devices can use Shentel's LTE service in the same manner they do in their home markets. Basye, VA (1) Bergton, WV (1) Berryville, VA (2) Bluemont, VA (1) Boonsboro, MD (3) Bridgewater, VA (1) Broadway, VA (1) Bunker Hill, WV (1) Carlisle, PA (1) Chambersburg, PA (3) Clear Spring, MD (1) Clearbrook, VA (1) Edinburg, VA (4) Elkton, VA (2) Enola, PA (2) Fort Valley, VA (1) Front Royal, VA (2) Fulks Run, VA (1) Funkstown, MD (1) Gerrardstown, WV (1) Gettysburg, PA (1) Greencastle, PA (2) Hagerstown, MD (5) Hanover, PA (2) Harrisburg, PA (11) Harrisonburg, VA (9) Hershey, PA (1) Inwood, WV (2) Linville, VA (1) Littlestown, PA (1) Martinsburg, WV (6) McGaheysville, VA (2) McSherrystown, PA (1) Mechanicsburg, PA (2) Middletown, PA (1) Middletown, VA (1) Mt. Jackson, VA (3) New Cumberland, PA (1) New Market, VA (2) Penn Laird, VA (1) Port Republic, VA (1) Quicksburg, VA (1) Sharpsburg, MD (1) Shepherdstown, WV (2) Shippensburg, PA (1) Smithsburg, MD (1) Star Tannery, VA (2) Stephens City, VA (2) Strasburg, VA (3) Summerdale, PA (1) Timberville, PA (1) Waynesboro, PA (1) Williamsport, MD (2) Winchester, VA (9) Woodstock, VA (3) York, PA (8) There is an interactive map with these communities shown in the S4GRU forums, at this link: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/2672-shentel-network-visionlte-launch-black-friday-2012/

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

Los Angeles Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule update

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 12:00 PM MDT   The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is...the City of Angels. Los Angeles, a.k.a. "L.A." The LA Metro market has not been announced by Sprint, but appears to be on the way for a September launch.   The Sprint LA Metro market covers all of Los Angeles County. Adjacent counties are in different Sprint markets. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Alcatel/Lucent has been actively deploying in Los Angeles since March and is making good progress. As of this week, there are approximately 65 Network Vision sites that have completed upgrades. These sites are located throughout the market. Mostly in the SF Valley, Los Angeles Basin and the I-110 Harbor Freeway Corridor.   Network Vision Sites in the LA Metro market. Approximately 65 Network Vision sites are complete in the market.   Market Launch and Remaining Schedule   It was Sprint's original plan to launch markets when they reached 50% of sites converted to Network Vision. However, it has now been determined that Sprint will move up launches sooner than 50% completion in several markets. This is likely to maintain a Mid 2012 launch in markets that have already been announced. However, in an unannounced market like LA, we don't know if they will resume pushing back market launches to 50%, or if they will now settle on a 30% - 40% completion to be the new normal for market launches.   If Sprint waits for 50% completion to launch the LA Metro market, it would make the launch month to be October (should AlcaLu stay on schedule). That being said, if Sprint should launch in September (as we suspect), then the market would be less than 50% complete. This doesn't sound like enough, but it would provide pretty good coverage. Even Verizon doesn't launch on all sites in a market initially. Usually less than 50%, then filling in with more and more sites every few months.   Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in September, these are the anticipated sites that would likely have LTE complete at that time. This would provide fairly good LTE coverage over many parts of the market.   Sprint is not reporting any of these live Network Vision sites in the LA market as currently broadcasting 4G LTE, only 3G EVDO. According to the NV schedule, these should have started coming online in May with LTE. However, none have shown up as LTE active to date. This most likely means that either the backhaul is not quite ready to service 4G LTE, or the 4G cores that these sites are tied to are not quite ready for LTE traffic. A backlog of LTE sites will probably come online in this market suddenly when the network is ready.   The bottom line...   We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" the LA Metro market. We believe they are targeting a launch month of September based on reports internally within Sprint. They will likely announce a launch date for this market, and a few others like Austin, Boston, Chicago and Washington DC around the time of the first market launches.   Sprint's schedule for this market currently has 65 Network Vision sites complete. Alcatel/Lucent is continuing to progress and is planning to increase the production rate up to 110 sites per month from here forward. This seems like a very difficult rate of completion to achieve.   S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by February 2013. However, there are several sites that will linger past the completion. In our estimation of the schedule, AlcaLu is currently pretty much on time, but may have issues meeting this rate identified in Sprint's schedule.   Photo of Downtown Los Angeles provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.   NOTE: S4GRU Sponsor Members can track regular updates of Network Vision sites completed nationwide. Completed sites are shown in an interactive Google Maps interface. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint scores an 800 on the LTE!

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

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Sprint deploys special Ground Mount Option Network Vision sites in some low capacity and high engineering locations

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 1:13 AM MST   Often you may see us refer to a GMO site around S4GRU. But, what is a GMO site? GMO stands for Ground Mount Option. Or sometimes, it will be referred to as a GMR (Ground Mount RRU) site. In this article we will explain many points about the Ground Mount Option. In the most basic explanation, a Ground Mount site is one where they are doing a partial Network Vision conversion instead of a full build conversion. A full build site is one where they upgrade all the hardware at a site, including the base station equipment (RBS/MBS), install new multi-mode antenna panels on the tower, add Remote Radio Units (RRU’s, sometimes also called RRH’s), and run new fiber optic lines from the base station equipment up to the RRU’s on the tower. These are the ones most people who follow along Network Vision deployment are familiar with. However, a GMO site will install new base station equipment, with the RRU’s mounted down at the Ground Level, near the new base station cabinets. Then the existing lines running up the tower and the existing panels are reused. These are not to be confused with full build sites with Ground Mounted RRU’s. Those are not Ground Mount Option sites, because they still offer full Network Vision panels, and complete 800MHz and LTE services (where possible). They just are required to mount the RRU’s away from the panels for logistical reasons.   How did Sprint determine which sites were to receive the Ground Mount Option instead of a full Network Vision rebuild? I have had the privilege of talking with several Sprint and OEM employees about the Ground Mount Option the past few weeks. Every one of the 38,000+ Sprint sites in the country had a site survey visit in 2011 to establish logistics and planning for the Network Vision upgrade. Each site is broken down to three priorities, largely based on the traffic and carrier count. See the priorities below: High Priority...site gets full Network Vision upgrade. If site cannot support RRU's and new panels, engineering is done and structure modifications will be made and the site is fully upgraded. Moderate Priority...site gets full Network Vision upgrade. If the site requires minor modifications to support RRU's and NV panels, then it gets fully upgraded. If it requires major attention with full engineering, then a ground mount solution is implemented. Low Priority...low priority sites only get a full NV upgrade with new NV panels and tower mounted RRU's if no structural modification is necessary. If anything is required at a low priority site, the Ground Mount Option is deployed. Also, some low capacity/low priority sites get GMO installs, no matter if the site can support a full install now. At the site survey time back in 2011, each survey team made a judgment call based on their review of the site whether to go full build or GMO, taking into account the priority. And there are anomalies that just do not make any sense. Some markets have no GMO sites at all. And some markets have all GMO sites, like Western Pennsylvania. Also, some site owners will not allow NV full build for various reasons. In these instances, a Ground Mount Option was selected.   What are the advantages of a Ground Mount site? The biggest advantage of a GMO site is these sites are being worked on now and getting Network Vision benefits in the middle of the NV program, instead of at the end of the build out. Many 3rd Round Markets have started earlier because of GMO conversions. 1st and 2nd round markets have mostly full build sites with only a few GMO’s, or none at all. This allows some love for customers that would have been pushed off to the very end of Network Vision to see some improvements now. GMO sites are much faster to deploy with no tower work required. Most GMO sites will require minimal permitting from local authorities, or often no permitting at all. Also, GMO's require less negotiation with the site owner, as it does not materially change the site. GMO site conversions are already under way all around the country, and all of them should be completed before the end of this Summer. There are already 100’s of them with 3G upgrades in place. Ground Mount Option sites also will bring LTE much sooner at many locations. Because LTE 1900 can be run on most GMO sites if the appropriate backhaul is available and Sprint has the OEM install the appropriate number of RRU’s or RRU type. The first LTE capable GMO’s are coming online now. Alcatel Lucent has two live, one in New Bern, North Carolina and another one in the Shentel market in South Central Pennsylvania. Samsung has one live in Dayton, Minnesota. This is just the beginning.   What are the cons of a Ground Mount Option site? There are a few. The first con with the Ground Mount Option, is there will not be any 800MHz service deployed. Sprint is in the process of adding CDMA 800 voice service to full build Network Vision sites. Sprint will also begin deploying LTE 800 service to full build NV sites before the end of 2013. However, GMO sites cannot support 800MHz service, as the existing tower mounted panels do not support 800MHz. In some rural areas, this is a big disappointment as customers have been waiting for 800 MHz signal propagation benefits in the boonies (like me). The second issue, is the availability of LTE. All full build sites get LTE, but some GMO sites will not be getting LTE deployments. Most GMO sites can support LTE through existing panels, so long as there are not too many CDMA carriers installed. However, some higher capacity GMO sites will not get LTE. Also, some of the most backhaul challenged sites in the Sprint network are GMO sites. They will not get LTE initially because Sprint is unable to get sufficient backhaul to the site to support LTE performance requirements, or in some instances Sprint does not want to go through the difficulty of equipping some sites that are a low priority. The last negative detriment of a GMO site is signal propagation benefits of panel mounted RRU’s. A Network Vision full build site with panel mounted RRU’s can achieve up to a 20% signal gain at 1900MHz. However, the full 20% is only realized at very tall boomer sites with little downtilt. Most sites get more like a 5% signal increase. And these GMO’s will not get that extra signal benefit.   Are Ground Mount Options this way forever? Furthermore, at sites where the GMO is implemented, supposedly they will come back at the end of NV and do the engineering and structural modifications. At that time 800 service will be added when the new panels are installed, as well as LTE to sites that can secure appropriate backhaul. I have heard that in some instances (maybe a few hundred), they are using GMO's where they could not come to an agreement with the site owner. Whether financial agreement or logistical/structural. In those instances, Sprint is identifying other adjacent sites that they may move the site to at the end of NV. If no other options can be achieved, it may permanently stay a GMO and never have NV panels and 800 service. My understanding has grown tenfold in the past 2 weeks between talking to the Ericsson tech that's been on site and a long conversation I had with an OEM deployment manager. The most recent conversation I had, the source said they recently heard that more funding is being identified that could go ahead and do more work with GMO sites. Which may include converting them to full builds earlier, or at least changing out legacy panels to NV panels to add support for 800MHz.   Differences between vendors Not all GMO sites are the same. Sprint is using three different vendors to deploy Network Vision. Ericsson, Samsung and Alcatel Lucent. Each of these three OEM’s have their own proprietary equipment. Different base station equipment and different RRU’s. Samsung has two types of RRU’s. 800MHz and 1900 MHz RRU’s. Each of the two Samsung RRU types can do both CDMA and LTE from the same unit, supporting up to four carriers each. At a Samsung GMO site, only one RRU is needed per sector, as the RRU can do LTE and CDMA on the same unit. However, Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent do not have it so easy. These two OEM’s cannot run CDMA and LTE on the same RRU. They need a separate RRU for CDMA and LTE on each sector. This is more work and more cost. S4GRU has been told that Ericsson is finalizing a new RRU that can handle CDMA and LTE on the same unit, but they are not in production yet. These are referred to around the forums as RRUS12. Many Ericsson GMO sites have been spotted with only a single RRU per sector. Unfortunately, these have all been RRUS11 units, which cannot support CDMA and LTE together, only in separate RRU’s. Hopefully many of these will get a second RRU still to support LTE, or maybe be switched out with an RRUS12 unit when they start to hit the streets.   In closing Some of our members have been quite disappointed to learn that their site was selected for a Ground Mount Option. And I have to admit, I too initially was disappointed myself. Especially since my site is one of the GMO’s that will not receive LTE. At least, at first. The thing that we have to keep in mind is these are sites that are either very low priority or very difficult to upgrade. These were always going to be the very last sites to be touched at all, if at all. The majority of GMO sites probably wouldn’t have started until Spring/Summer 2014. For these sites to receive partial upgrades now is a very good thing. Many of us want everything, and we want it yesterday too. This is not practical though. All things considered, the Ground Mount Option is an elegant solution to the problem. Sprint just needs to push the envelope and install LTE on every one where it is physically possible. Oh and Dan, please add LTE to my GMO site (EP03AL506). It just will take two more RRUS11 units, or possibly a prototype RRUS12 unit. Just imagine the good S4GRU publicity you’d get. I will even arrange the backhaul for you!   Ericsson GMO site photo. New Ericsson NV base cabinets in the back and ground mount RRU's on the left. Three CDMA RRU's present here, one for each sector. No LTE at this site initially.   Samsung GMO site photo. New Samsung NV base cabinets at the left and ground mount RRU's directly in front. Three RRU's present here, one for each sector. Samsung GMO sites can run CDMA and LTE if set up that way.   Alcatel Lucent GMO site photo. New AlcaLu NV base cabinets on the right and ground mount RRU's on the center. Six CDMA RRU's present here, two for each sector (one behind each also). AlcaLu GMO LTE sites will require two RRU's per sector.

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

Sprint has a new Airave product out that are free to customers with indoor coverage problems

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 1:00 PM MST   Suffer from indoor coverage issues? Need a personal Sprint femtocell to supplant your indoor Sprint coverage? Enter in the Sprint Airave Access Point.   Sprint is running a new pilot program. Telesales will be letting new customers know they can get a free Airave if they have indoor coverage issues. Customers will be directed to sprint.com/airaveaccesspoint to order. Sprint has created a special team to manage this program.   There may be limits and certain terms and conditions that may apply. Established customers may also have some luck getting in on this promotion, even though they are not the intended candidates.   Feel free to sound off in the comments section below if you are able to score one of the units. Share your experiences. Good luck!   EDIT: Just to clarify...yes, Sprint has given away Airaves in the past. Their Retentions Dept. did have authority to give them out. But this is a new promotion with the Airave product. Now Sprint is dedicating staff specifically to this new promotion and being more proactive to customer concerns with indoor coverage issues, not reactive as a last resort before a customer leaves.   We already have had several Facebook fans and S4GRU Members post that they called and was able to get one.     Screen shot from Sprint site touting the new Sprint Airave Access Point. Click on image to enlarge.

S4GRU

S4GRU

 

Chicago Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule update

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 6:00 AM MDT     Chicago. Network Vision is nearly infamous among Chicagoans. Chicago has not been an easy market for Sprint so far. We reported in a previous article about some of the challenges Sprint has faced in its Windy City deployment. Even though this market has yet to be announced by Sprint, we are happy to report to you that Chicago appears to be on track for a September launch.   The Sprint Chicago market covers most of Northern Illinois and the adjacent suburbs of NW Indiana. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Samsung has been actively deploying in the Chicago market since December and is making good progress. As of this week, there are over 300 Network Vision sites that have completed upgrades. These sites are located throughout the market. But all outside the Loop.   Network Vision Sites in the Chicago market. More than 300 Network Vision sites are complete in the market.   Market Launch and Remaining Schedule   It was Sprint's original plan to launch markets when they reached 50% of sites converted to Network Vision. However, it has now been determined that Sprint will move up launches sooner than 50% completion in several markets. This is likely to maintain a Mid 2012 launch in markets that have already been announced. However, in an unannounced market like Chicago, we don't know if they will resume pushing back market launches to 50%, or if they will now settle on a 30% - 40% completion to be the new normal for market launches.   If Sprint waits for 50% completion to launch the Chicago market, September would be the launch month should Samsung stay on schedule. It is believed that Sprint will launch the market earlier, with less than 50% coverage. This doesn't sound like enough, but it would provide pretty good coverage. Even Verizon doesn't launch on all sites in a market initially. Usually less than 50%, then filling in with more and more sites every few months.   Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in September, these are the anticipated sites that would likely have LTE complete at that time. This would provide fairly good LTE coverage over many parts of the market.   Sprint is not reporting any of these live Network Vision sites in the Chicago market as currently broadcasting 4G LTE, only 3G EVDO. According to the NV schedule, these should have started coming online in May with LTE. However, none have shown up as LTE active to date. This most likely means that either the backhaul is not quite ready to service 4G LTE, or the 4G cores that these sites are tied to are not quite ready for LTE traffic. A huge backlog of LTE sites will probably come online in this market suddenly when the network is ready.   We are getting reports though of S4GRU members in the Chicago area, especially in the Merrillville and Hammond areas, who have been able to connect to 4G LTE for brief intermittent periods. So there are sites that are starting to get LTE capabilities working. They just have not been turned over to Sprint yet from Samsung.   The bottom line...   We currently do not have the formal "launch" date for the Chicago market. We believe they are targeting a launch month of September based on reports internally within Sprint. After reviewing the schedule, we can see a path to get there. Sprint will likely announce a launch date for this market, and a few others like Austin, Boston, Washington DC and Los Angeles around the time of the first launch.   Sprint's schedule for this market currently has 307 Network Vision sites complete, which is almost one third. Samsung is progressing very well. It appears that Sprint and Samsung are speeding up the schedule, as it looks like they are now ahead of schedule in this market.   S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by December 2012. However, there are a few sites that will likely linger past the completion. In our estimation of the schedule, Samsung should have no issues meeting Sprint's schedule completion date.   Photo of Chicago skyline provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.   NOTE: S4GRU Sponsor Members can track regular updates of Network Vision sites completed nationwide. Completed sites are shown in an interactive Google Maps interface. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship

S4GRU

S4GRU

Cellular Cornucopia: A Sort of Sprint Holiday Shopping Guide

by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, November 14, 2014 - 7:46 AM MST   'Tis the season for turkey and tablets, pumpkin pie and "phablets." So, whet your appetites, and get ready for a movable feast -- or should I say, a mobile feast.   Welcome to the first annual S4GRU holiday shopping guide. This may be nothing more than a one year tradition. We shall see. But we have definitely fallen behind this fall on publishing articles following FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorizations of notable devices headed to or at least compatible with the Sprint network.   Playing catch up, here is a quick rundown on the RF capabilities of the Motorola Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy Edge, and cellular variant HTC Nexus 9 -- all of which have passed through the FCC OET and been released in the past few weeks or are to be released in the next few weeks.   Not the purview of S4GRU, but all of the processor, RAM, screen resolution, and other specs are already out there on the Interwebs. If you need that info, refer to those sources. Thus, these brief looks at two "phablets" and one cellular tablet will be focused on their tested/projected RF performance -- particularly as that pertains to the Sprint network.   To begin, the Motorola Nexus 6 ends up being the first fully CCA/RRPP compliant LTE handset -- supporting domestic LTE bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 -- and, for good measure, adding in LTE bands 7/13/17 for use in Canada, on VZW, and on AT&T. S4GRU first reported that CCA/RRPP band abundance of the supposed Sprint variant 2014 Motorola X a few months ago, but for unknown reasons, that handset never saw the light of day after it passed through the FCC OET. Its Motorola brother, which suffers from the hormonal disorder gigantism, though, picks up that slack and then some.   Yes, the Nexus 6 represents a gigantic increase in size and price -- a curious decision if there ever was one. But it does appear to hold up its very large end of the bargain in RF prowess, maxing out in the roughly the 20-26 dBm range across all supported LTE bands. That is pretty good performance, particularly for band 41, which appears to enjoy an approximately 3 dBi antenna gain. This projects to be the strong performer that many had hoped for based on Motorola's RF reputation.   Next up, the Samsung Galaxy Edge is truly on the cutting edge. And that refers not to just its curvy edged screen form factor. It is the first North American handset to support band 41 carrier aggregation. See the FCC OET filing table below:     In fact, it is the first North American handset known to support LTE TDD carrier aggregation and intra band LTE carrier aggregation -- rather than inter band carrier aggregation, as we have seen in several AT&T variant handsets this year. That said, it is limited to two carrier aggregation with a maximum total bandwidth of 40 MHz TDD. Three carrier aggregation devices with a maximum total bandwidth of 60 MHz TDD will not make an appearance until sometime next year.   And that is basically the good news. The rest of the news is not as good. The Galaxy Edge supports none of the additional CCA/RRPP bands -- not even bands 2/5, which are just subsets of bands 25/26, respectively. Moreover, the LTE ERP/EIRP is not very impressive. Fortunately, it looks hardly as poor in that regard as last year's VZW variant Galaxy Note 3 -- maybe the worst that we have ever seen in a flagship caliber smartphone -- but it averages just 17-20 dBm max output across bands 25/26/41. And, for reference, that runs about 2-3 dB worse than that of its recent Sprint variant Galaxy Note 4 sibling.   The news could be worse, however. To conclude, just look at the cellular variant HTC Nexus 9 tablet. On the bright side, it, too, is a fully CCA/RRPP compliant device -- bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 -- also adding bands 7/13/17 like its Nexus 6 cousin. That band 12 tablet inclusion trumps even all Apple iPads for likely the next year. But the bright side does not extend beyond that in terms of actual RF.   Originally, Google proclaimed the Nexus 9 to be a 3GPP/3GPP2 device. Since then, Google has pared that back to a 3GPP only device -- with the odd inclusion of EV-DO. The latter is almost assuredly yet another proofreading error, as the FCC OET authorization docs show no support for 3GPP2. Furthermore, reports are that the Nexus 9 uses a non Qualcomm baseband modem. Not good -- especially for a device that now rivals the iPad in price.   For those who want the shorthand explanation, the cellular variant Nexus 9 looks to be compatible with Sprint -- but only Sprint LTE. It will have no support for Sprint CDMA2000. Additionally, the ERP/EIRP leaves much, much to be desired, averaging only 15-19 dBm maximum across all LTE bands. We generally expect more from antenna design in tablets because of their added size. However, that is certainly not the case with the Nexus 9.   In summation, if you are making your shopping list, checking it twice, everything new in the Sprint stocking this holiday season is at least partly naughty, nothing entirely nice. Too big, too expensive, too focused on form over function, and/or too weak RF. Take your pick.   Happy Thanksgiving? Or Bah Humbug?   Source: FCC

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Sprint internal correspondence discusses Network Vision Progress/Issues with Employees

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:33 AM MST   Today we feature text from internal correspondence that was distributed to Sprint employees regarding the state of the Network Vision deployment and addresses key points that employees often encounter with the public. It is from a Q&A session with Chad Elliott, Sprint's Director of Strategic Technology Programs. Although there aren't really points in the memo that will be surprises for S4GRU Members who follow deployment closely, it is helpful to get some sort of official documentation from Sprint that we can now point to explain what is going on. It is a good and concise reference of many key challenges that have impacted Network Vision, with some vague outlook for 2013. Some things discussed in the memo include that production is ramping up and with more launches more frequently, why smaller towns/cities seem to be being upgraded first, issues going on that are slowing down deployment in some areas, etc. Take a look at the memo below:  

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(UPDATED) A short time from now in a Galaxy not far away...

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:10 AM MDT   Update: The Samsung review embargo has been lifted overnight, and Galaxy S4 reviews are being published around the Web today. Thanks to one of our favorite, highly thorough reviewers, Brian Klug at AnandTech, we can confirm that the Galaxy S4 follows the recent HTC One in providing a removable micro-SIM. So, while two data points do not necessarily a trend make, the One and Galaxy S4 do suggest that removable SIMs for Sprint LTE handsets are here to stay.   Arguably the most hotly anticipated handset of the year, rivaling even the next iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 in its Sprint variant popped up in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database late yesterday, meaning that the next Galaxy is now authorized to operate in the US and is likely just a few weeks away from a Sprint street date. Not a revolutionary overhaul of the very successful Galaxy S3 platform of last year, the Galaxy S4 maintains a strong family resemblance to its older sibling but does generally and for Sprint specifically add a number of evolutionary enhancements, such as a larger 1080p display, world roaming capability, wireless charging cover functionality, and some transmit power increases. Thus, adding to S4GRU's long standing 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, and HTC One is our run through of the RF capabilities of the Galaxy S4: CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800) LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks) LTE 5 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth LTE UE category 3 W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850) GSM 850/1900 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 802.11n MCS index 7, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth 802.11ac MCS index 9, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi tether RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 25.39 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 24.62 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 22.83 dBm (LTE 1900) NFC antenna integrated into battery cover CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below) Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)     Breaking down the RF specs, honestly, the Galaxy S4 may come across as a disappointment to many. That is primarily, though, because the reality could hardly live up to the expectations. First, the Galaxy S4 does not support band 26 LTE 800 nor band 41 TD-LTE 2600. Reports are that Sprint will not release any dual band LTE devices and will skip straight to tri band. Those devices, however, are still at least six months off, so like all Sprint LTE devices before it, the Galaxy S4 is limited to band 25 LTE 1900 on the native Sprint network. Additionally, the Galaxy S4's band 25 LTE 1900 is limited to 5 MHz FDD bandwidth. This seems to be largely a Samsung quirk, as Sprint LTE devices from other OEMs are tested and authorized for 10 MHz FDD (or greater) as well. That being said, this will likely be of no consequence, as all Sprint LTE FDD deployment for at least the next several years is apt to remain based on 5 MHz FDD carriers. Also, unlike the recent HTC One, the Galaxy S4 does not appear to be particularly optimized for the Sprint LTE network. Using the FCC OET authorization documents, we can gauge a device's RF prowess by examining its maximum transmit ERP/EIRP and at what frequency that max occurs. This is by no means a perfect simulacrum for both transmission and reception, but we can say that Galaxy S4 LTE is at its max RF wise in the traditional PCS A-F blocks, not the PCS G block 1912.5 MHz center frequency where Sprint is deploying its initial LTE carrier nationwide. Staying on ERP/EIRP discussion, the Galaxy S4 looks to be a rather strong performer on roaming CDMA1X/EV-DO 850 and the now being deployed Sprint native CDMA1X 800. Both show quite high ERP. On the flip side, the EIRP for CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 is good, too, but oddly less than the ERP of the CDMA2000 airlinks below 1 GHz that enjoy significant propagation advantages. With most other handsets, the transmit power relationship is reversed, CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 transmit power being greater to compensate for its greater path loss. Furthermore, ERP/EIRP was tested with both the standard battery cover and the wireless charging cover. A definite caveat, the wireless charging cover reduces ERP/EIRP by up to 6 dB. Most likely, the induction coil in the wireless charging cover absorbs some of the transmitted RF, thus reducing the radiated power. For some users, the convenience of wireless charging may outweigh the hit to wireless performance. But S4GRU cannot generally recommend wireless charging due to its inefficiency (much power is wasted as heat) and detriment to RF. As for simultaneous voice and data, the Galaxy S4 does support SVLTE but is the latest in a long line of Sprint LTE handsets now to forgo SVDO. Realistically, this comes as no great surprise, as we have not seen SVDO capability in any new handset since last summer. Either this is a limitation of the Qualcomm MDM9615 baseband modem that has become standard equipment or SVDO is no longer a strong priority as Sprint LTE coverage grows weekly. Regardless, CDMA1X and EV-DO share a transmit path (indicated in the FCC OET diagram above); hence, simultaneous CDMA1X voice and EV-DO data is not supported. As S4GRU has reported in the past, the FCC OET authorization documents are not required to disclose world phone capabilities because those bands are not in use in the US. However, the presence of GSM 850/1900 and W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850) is strongly indicative of the inclusion of international roaming capabilities, too. Indeed, other outlets are reporting that all variants of the Galaxy S4 include at a minimum quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and W-CDMA bands 1, 2, 5, 8 (i.e. W-CDMA 2100+1900/1900/850/900) -- the latter supporting DC-HSPA+ on the downlink and HSUPA on the uplink. While we cannot confirm these reports at this time, they certainly do seem plausible. What also remains unconfirmed at this point is the SIM situation: embedded or removable. As soon as this info comes to light, we will update the article.   Source: FCC

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

 

Seattle/West Washington Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule update

by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 12:00 PM MDT   The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is...West Washington. The West Washington market has yet to be announced by Sprint, and may not be announced until as late as this Fall.   The Sprint West Washington market encompasses most of the Western Half of Washington State. This includes Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Everett, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Puyallup, Issaquah, Bremerton, Olympia, Bellingham and Aberdeen/Hoquiam. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Samsung is scheduled to begin mobilizing their subcontractors around the market in October. The first completed Network Vision sites are scheduled to start coming online in November.   Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in May, these are the anticipated sites that would likely have LTE complete at that time. This would provide fairly good LTE coverage over many parts of the market.   Schedule details and the bottom line   Sprint has not yet selected a date to formally "launch" LTE service in West Washington. It is difficult to try to pick a date now this far out, but we have attempted to do that. In looking at the schedule as of today, it would indicate a May market launch (going on a 40% - 50% completion for launch). But there is no way to know if Samsung and their subcontractors will actually hit their schedule dates before deployment in this market begins. We will be able to gauge better after a few months of production is achieved.   Samsung needs to hit a production rate of approximately 55 sites per month to stay on schedule. This is a normal production rate when compared to other markets. They shouldn't have any schedule issues with the appropriate amount of resources allocated.   S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by September 2013. However, there may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion. Photo of Seattle Skyline/Mt. Rainier provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.   NOTE: S4GRU Sponsor Members can track regular updates of Network Vision sites completed nationwide. Completed sites are shown in an interactive Google Maps interface. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship

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

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: Band 25 5 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.18dBm 3 MHZ FDD channels: max EIRP 23.07dBm 10 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.14dBm [*]Band 26 5 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 19.00dBm 3 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 18.85dBm [*]Band 41 (Spark) 20 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.86dBm 15 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 32.00dBm 10 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.97dBm 5 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.65dBm [*]Band 4 (Roaming) 5 MHz channel - 23.97dBm 10 MHz channel - 23.96dBm 15 MHz channel - 23.99dBm 20 MHz channel - 23.88dBm [*]Band 17 (Roaming) 5 MHz channel - 23.98dBm 10 MHz channel - 23.99dBm NOTE: This is using the better antenna, on the best channel in the band, and with robust QPSK modulation. Although Sprint currently does not use B25 3MHz or 10MHz channels, nor B26 3MHz channels, nor B41 5, 10 or 15MHz channels, they were included for interest as it is plausible that Sprint could use these in the future at some point.   Simultaneous Voice/Data and VoLTE   As always, a hot question is whether the Sprint variants of the iPhone 6 support simultaneous voice and data. And the answer is...no. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus do not support simultaneous voice on CDMA2000 networks. So neither the Verizon nor Sprint variant can do simultaneous voice and data using CDMA1X voice. Just like the previous CDMA2000 iPhone models.   The Verizon version will support simultaneous voice and data on VoLTE. Verizon is just beginning to deploy its VoLTE network. Sprint will not begin deploying VoLTE (Voice over LTE) until mid-2015 at the earliest. It is not known if the Sprint variant can receive a software update in the future to enable VoLTE on Sprint iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when Sprint VoLTE starts to go live next year. In the mean time, Sprint iPhone users will only be able to use voice and data at the same time over Wi-Fi.   Carrier Aggregation/LTE Advanced Support   And the last point to cover is Carrier Aggregation. Yes, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus do support Carrier Aggregation (an LTE Advanced feature). However, this new iPhone is only limited to 20 MHz total aggregation.   So the iPhone 6 can aggregate two 5 MHz channels (5+5). And it can aggregate two 10 MHz channels (10+10). However, the total of the downlink channels cannot be greater than 20 MHz. So the iPhone 6 cannot bond two 15 MHz channels or do a 20+20 combination (because these exceed 20 MHz total downlink).   Since Sprint is only deploying Carrier Aggregation (LTE Advanced) to its Band 41 (Spark) network at this time, the iPhone 6 cannot handle that. This is due to Sprint currently only deploying B41 in wideband 20 MHz carrier widths. So the minimum two carriers being aggregated for Sprint would be 40 MHz wide, far exceeding the capability of the iPhone 6. The same is true of Verizon and T-Mobile wideband channels. They cannot do Carrier Aggregation on the iPhone 6 either on wideband. Of the big four, only AT&T currently has no wideband LTE carriers (i.e. none that exceed 10 MHz).   Conclusion   The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer some pretty good ERP/EIRP numbers for Sprint customers, especially in Band 41 Spark. We expect some good and meaningful RF field results from our members soon. With Sprint announcing a new unlimited plan to lease a new iPhone 6 (16GB) for only $50 per month, some people are going to find a Sprint iPhone model irresistible.   And, as always, you can already start making your wish list for the presumed iPhone 6S next September. For wireless network enthusiasts like us, 40 MHz or 60 MHz Carrier Aggregation in Band 41 and support for Band 12 are at the top of most of our lists.   Oh yeah, and there was something about a wristwatch...   Source: FCC           EDIT: Removed Carrier Aggregation limitation of equal sized channels............................................

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