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(UPDATED) Samsung Galaxy S3 passes FCC muster, launch imminent?

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, June 1, 2012 - 11:58 PM MDT   Update: Sprint has scheduled an exclusive Samsung event for the evening of June 12 in Boston. It looks like the Samsung Galaxy S3 coming out party has been set.   Just as the HTC EVO 4G LTE is setting up for its delayed national street date tomorrow June 2, it may sooner than expected be getting another high profile cousin in Sprint's burgeoning line up of Network Vision ready, LTE capable devices. First, word leaked this afternoon that Sprint is prepping landing and pre-order web pages for its version of the Samsung Galaxy S3. Then, this evening, S4GRU uncovered the Samsung SPH-L710 (aka Galaxy S3) exhibits that had hit the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database earlier today. So, the ball seems to be rolling toward an imminent launch for the Galaxy S3. And, as we did with the EVO 4G LTE a few weeks back, here is an RF focused technical rundown of the upcoming Samsung flagship Sprint handset: 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 carrier bandwidth LTE UE category 3 SVDO and SVLTE support, including SVDO or SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi tether Maximum RF ERP: 17.78 dBm (CDMA1X 850), 20.77 dBm (EV-DO 850), 24.05 dBm (CDMA1X 1900), 23.85 dBm (EV-DO 1900), 17.21 dBm (CDMA1X 800), 17.56 dBm (EV-DO 800), 22.01 dBm (LTE 1900) NFC antenna integrated into battery LTE antenna configuration: 1 Tx, 2 Rx (i.e. 2x2 downlink MIMO) All in all, the Galaxy S3 does not present any really big technical surprises. As RF capabilities go, it follows very closely in the footsteps of the EVO 4G LTE. One of the few notable differences is that the Galaxy S3, like its Galaxy Nexus sibling, supports only 5 MHz x 5 MHz LTE carriers, while the EVO 4G LTE can do both 5 MHz x 5 MHz and 10 MHz x 10 MHz LTE bandwidths. However, Sprint has no definite plans to deploy 10 MHz x 10 MHz LTE during the typical lifespan of either of these handsets. And, otherwise, the Galaxy S3 does appear to have the general edge in RF transmit power.   Sources: FCC, Inside Sprint Now

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Sprint delaying pre-orders of the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S III and possibly 16GB models

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 3:33 PM MDT   S4GRU received some sad news today when we found out that Sprint is experiencing delays in their preorders of the popular Samsung Galaxy S III. 16GB models will not arrive early of the June 21st national launch as originally planned, and at best, will arrive on June 21st. Some may even experience delays of a day or two. However, if you bought the 32GB model (like me), your delay will be until next week...well after the national launch of the device. So much for pre-order. See Sprint's comments below:     Source: http://community.spr...lability-update   Special thanks to S4GRU Member Adrian28 who tipped me to the story in our forums.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot Review

by Rick Layton
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, June 25, 2012 - 4:27 PM MDT   As technologies advance, the equipment to use the technology must advance as well. With the upcoming release of 4G LTE in our area (Houston), new equipment will be required to be able to use it. Although Sprint will have numerous data devices to handle the usage by the end of the year, only the Sprint Tri-Band Modem will be available at the rollout of the 4G LTE service. Due to the enormous dependence my business has on accessing data in a mobile environment, plus the great increases in data speed available with 4G LTE, this makes getting access to 4G LTE imperative to me. I depended heavily on the Sierra Wireless data devices when I started this business 7 years ago for my source of a reliable method of mobile data transmission. This relationship continued on until the release of the original Hotspot with the 4G service in my area. At one point, I was so displeased with past models, that I had sworn I would never buy another Sierra Wireless device as long as I live. This conclusion was reached after having numerous issues with previous hotspot models. There were so many problems that it seemed as if the device was never even tested on the networks it was to be used on. Also Sprint actively blocked reviews of the device, likely to not hinder sales in spite of the problems. My need for a new device with both WiMax and LTE capability outweighed my outright dislike of Sierra Wireless products. I proceeded against better judgment, and the Tri-Band modem was ordered even though the possibility of getting a substandard unit once again was always at the forefront of my mind.   On with the show   The official part number of the Tri-Band Modem is 803S. Along with the modem, I also ordered the SSX7077-V desktop cradle. I had to dig through a lot sites to find the information necessary to make this decision for my business. Much to my surprise, even though I was told the cradle was not available yet, I got a Sprint telesales person who was able to use the part number and find they had it in stock. Upon arrival I unpacked the unit and cradle...while holding my breath. The device that came out of the box was a pleasant departure from the previous Hotspots I had owned. Above is a picture of the device as it was shipped with all components. There was a small user guide as well but to get the real instructions the user guide must be downloaded from Sprint.   Gone was the one piece blow molded plastic case which allowed no air circulation and caused the prior Hotspots to overheat quickly. Although the display is still too small for my aging eyes (it is actually the same display size as prior units) the change to the case makes it much easier to see in the interior of my van where the device will mostly be used. In this picture of the front you can see that there is a new button arrangement as compared to the older Hotspots. Also in the picture is the USB cable for use with the charger or to connect a computer, the AC to USB adapter, the battery and the battery cover. I opened the cradle, which was surprisingly inexpensive, and was delighted to find an additional AC to USB adapter which meant the cradle could be left in place without having to move the adapter around. As you look at the modem from the side you can see the antenna ports (the covers are open), the USB connector in the middle and the slot for the memory card. The round hole just right of the left antenna port is the reset button for the unit. Here is the same view with the battery and cover installed. Notice that the SD card slot is covered by the battery cover.   The opposite side has two switches. The one on the left is a WPS setup button while the one on the right is a slider to mute the unit.     The unit sits nicely in the cradle and looks to me to be a solution to help keep the USB port for the charger/interface cable from failing. This has been a major issue with the prior Hotspots. The case of the unit also helps support the USB port to take some of the load off of the circuit board. It took quite a bit of digging on the Sierra Wireless site to find out that the antenna ports are for the 4G WiMax band only. The cradle contains 2 5dbi omnidirectional antennas to allow full use of the WiMax network architecture.   Initial testing The initial testing of the unit looks promising. The antennas in the cradle for 4G WiMax actually seem to get 3 – 5dBm gain in all conditions tested. The new unit has the ability to search the other bands for signals while staying connected. This allows less downtime between band changes. I notice a lot less disruption when switching bands. This unit has better reception on 3G and 4G WiMax than the previous hotspots and even the U600 USB modem I use as well. 4G WiMax is able to connect quickly even at 10% and the cradle has improved stability of WiMax and decreased ping times. For a short time I had access to Sprint 4G LTE as they were testing the towers in my area. The speeds were incredilbly faster. A 10% 4G LTE signal averaged 8.12Mbps download and 1.85Mbps upload. An 80% signal was able to get 35.8Mbps down on my best test and 22.1Mbps up. The upload speeds was very unexpected, and much higher than Sprint LTE smartphone devices have reported. This is likely due to much stronger transmit capabilities of the hotspot. I also discovered that when the modem is tethered the cable limits the bandwidth to approximately 20Mbps total speed. It will be interesting to see how it works in the 12 to 14 hour days of hot Houston Weather.   First week in the field The Tri Band Modem got pressed into service a little quicker than planned, as my main unit went down with a bad transmission and the U600 USB modem with a Cradlepoint that was in this unit appears to have been damaged by the wrecker’s radio which runs on the edge of the WiMax frequency at 5 watts. The units have been sent in to determine cause of failure and for repairs but I think next time I will make sure all electronics are powered off before getting that close to a transmitter (OUCH!!). I am running the same routes in a rental van with the Tri-Band Modem that I normally use the other units on. There is less downtime in the signal gaps I am familiar with and areas where I have had signal problems in both 3G and 4G WiMax are much improved. I have yet to encounter any more 4G LTE signals but am looking forward to the service coming online soon. The unit seems to be running hotter than I would like with a fully charged battery but is actually cooler that the previous Hotspots. The temperature is supposed to soar over the next few days without the cloudiness we have had this past week. So it will be interesting to see if the overheating problems of previous models still occur.   Week 2 – The True test The unit is getting worked really hard this week with temperatures outside up near 100 degrees. The GPS is useless with this kind of sun load as the unit will overheat if left in direct sunlight (as the instructions state) in about 20 minutes. The good news is that this is about twice as long as my original Hotspot will last. How anyone can make a unit that requires a clear view of the sky for GPS but can’t handle sunlight is beyond comprehension. A quick check of the Tri-Band’s temperature specs shows that the unit is only rated for 95 degrees. The prior Hotspot was rated well above the century mark but couldn’t even handle 90 degrees for any length of time. The crappiest laptop on the market will handle 105 degrees plus all day long. The true test will be my afternoon calls when the temperatures are high. Battery life has been about 8 to 9 hours which is far better than the prior Hotspots. The unit started overheating one afternoon. I can’t say I’m a bit surprised at that, but what is surprising is that it will run steadily as long as the air temp is below 98 degrees. This is a first for Hotspots as they always overheated well before the rated temperature spec. The bad news is the crappy overheat shutdown doesn’t turn off the unit before damage starts to occur, nor does it turn the unit off completely. Removing the battery cover seems to help air circulation and overheating some. The button lights are flickering after one overheating but the unit seems to be working fine other than this. It will be interesting to see what happens when it really gets hot here. According to the specs 4G LTE takes the least amount of wattage to run so it may not overheat as fast when using 4G LTE. I had the chance to try the modem in the old school 3G EVDO mode as one of my locations is 40 feet underground and that is all that is available at this location. I shut the unit down after 30 minutes as the unit was so hot you could barely handle it even though the temperature underground is around 70 degrees. I would not recommend trying to use this for any length of time if you want the Tri-Band to not overheat!!   My Opinion Although Sierra Wireless has made some major improvement in the 3rd generation Hotspot, this is still a unit for the casual user. It is not designed to handle heavy use or outdoor summer temperatures for any length of time. It will be going in my climate controlled cabinet to protect it from the heat next week. I will let you know how it works when the temperature stays below 85 degrees. The improvements in connectivity, reception and stability are worth the investment. As long as you know and adjust your usage for the limitations of the unit.

S4GRU

S4GRU

32GB Samsung Galaxy S-III Preorders supposedly on their way out for shipping...finally!

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 4:00 PM MDT   It appears that the logjam has been cleared and the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S-III pre-orders by Sprint customers are finally starting to roll. And yours truly has been one of those affected, sitting in backorder purgatory. We informed you all last week about the delay affecting 32GB models reportedly caused by overwhelming global demand that Samsung couldn't keep up with. The sources say that devices started shipping out today, and that customers should see an update at Sprint's website. However, in checking my status just before going to print still showed my device as backordered. Also note that I finished up my pre-order only minutes after the pre-order sent went live. So hopefully this info is legit and the devices are on their way. It appears my wait is nearly over, as well as for thousands of other Sprint customers who boldly stepped out and pre-ordered the 32GB version of the Galaxy S-III. Soon I will be able to write that radio performance article comparing the GS-III, EVO LTE, Galaxy Nexus, Epic 4G Touch and EVO 3D. Stay tuned for that! EDIT: I received a tracking number late tonight and see my GS3 is at the Louisville Airport on its way to me. The end is nigh!!!     Source: Phandroid, Sprint

S4GRU

S4GRU

Ready for LTE launching? Sprint says mark your calendar for July 15th in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 10:09 AM MDT   Speculation is over. Sprint is going to stop blocking LTE connections and launch service in 5 of the 6 announced markets on July 15th. LTE service will be live, on or before July 15th in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio. However, Baltimore is an announced market that is not listed in this new release. It is not shocking to S4GRU readers that Baltimore is not quite ready yet. We are tracking the completed sites in all Sprint markets, and we know that none of the completed Network Vision sites in the Baltimore market even have LTE live yet, as we mentioned in our recent Baltimore schedule update article. Good news for you LTE device holders in these announced markets. Anyone want to hold a nerd riot in celebration on the streets?       Source: Sprint

S4GRU

S4GRU

Indianapolis Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule update

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Saturday, June 30, 2012 - 2:02 PM MDT   The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is The Crossroads of America...Indianapolis. The Indy market has yet to be announced by Sprint, but is expected to be announced in the near future. Perhaps around the time of the first market launches. The Sprint Indianapolis market encompasses all of Central Indiana, including the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area, Bloomington, Lafayette, Anderson, Muncie, Kokomo and Columbus. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Samsung is scheduled to begin mobilizing with its subcontractors in August. Completed Network Vision sites are scheduled to start coming online in September.   Indianapolis Market Launch 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 Indy, we don't know if they will resume pushing back market launches to 50%, or if they will now settle on a 40% completion to be the new normal for market launches. It doesn't much matter in this market if Sprint launches at 40% or 50% completion. Samsung is scheduled to hit both the 40% and 50% milestones in the month of December (should they stay on schedule). It may seem that 40% - 50% site completion is not enough to launch LTE service, 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 December, 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 We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" LTE service in Indy. It is difficult to try to pick a date now this far out, but we will take a stab at it. In looking at the schedule as of today, it would indicate a December 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 this early in the deployment for this market. We will be able to gauge better after a few months of production. Samsung will need to hit a production rate of 35 sites per month to stay on schedule. This is an easy to achieve rate in our opinion. If properly prepared and equipped and if backhaul is ready timely, this market shouldn't have any problems staying on time. They may even be able to get ahead of schedule here. S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by May 2013. However, there may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion. Photo of the Indianapolis 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

Fire Photon torpedoes! Motorola Photon Q hits the FCC OET

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 2:54 PM MDT   S4GRU continues with the third in a series of short articles on the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization filings for "tentpole" devices headed to Sprint's upcoming Network Vision enhanced LTE overlay. Over the past few months, we have brought you the scoop on the FCC authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE and the Samsung Galaxy S3. Today, the Motorola model number XT897 hits the FCC OET database with FCC ID IHDT56NL2, and we expect this mystery handset ultimately to be the Photon Q. Without further ado, here is the RF rundown:
  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 and 10 MHz carrier bandwidths world phone international roaming capability 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi; max MCS index 7 (i.e. 20 MHz channel, 400 ns guard interval, single spatial channel) SVDO and SVLTE support, including SVDO or SVLTE and simultaneous Wi-Fi tether Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 22.45 dBm (CDMA1X 850), 19.89 dBm (EV-DO 850), 27.12 dBm (CDMA1X 1900), 24.03 dBm (EV-DO 1900), 21.72 dBm (CDMA1X 800), 19.33 dBm (EV-DO 800), 25.22 dBm (LTE 1900) NFC capability Antenna locations: CDMA1X bottom, EV-DO/LTE top, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth bottom   The Photon Q's FCC filing makes mention of world phone international roaming capability, albeit latent inside the handset. Presumably, it will include at least GSM 900/1800 and W-CDMA 900/2100+1900 (a la the international roaming capabilities announced to be unlocked in several VZW handsets). But, before anyone asks, do not expect any LTE international roaming capability. RF uplink output looks to be healthy. It is generally a bit higher than what we have seen recently from the EVO LTE and Galaxy S3. However, unlike the EVO LTE and Galaxy S3, the Photon Q lacks 802.11a/n Wi-Fi 5 GHz band capability. The filing indicates that the hardware is present, but 5 GHz operation is locked out. So, the Photon Q will be stuck in the increasingly overcrowded 2.4 GHz band. At this point, the LTE UE category remains unknown. Recent Motorola RAZR LTE handsets on VZW have used Moto's own Wrigley LTE baseband chipset, which has limited those devices to LTE UE category 2. We hope that the Photon Q will utilize the Qualcomm MSM8960 as a single chipset modem, as that should enable UE category 3. Perhaps the most interesting and potentially controversial aspect of the Photon Q's FCC authorization is the inclusion of two references to the Motorola Admiral, a front facing QWERTY handset currently available on Sprint. One reference cites the Admiral as a "similar transmitter;" the other reference flat out calls the Photon Q the Admiral. Thus, while some sites have leaked photos of what purports to be the Photon Q in the expected QWERTY slider design, we leave open the possibility, however modest, that the Photon Q may arrive as an LTE refreshed Admiral clone with a front facing QWERTY keyboard.     Sources: FCC

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Can toggling airplane mode actually improve your 3G data speeds?

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, August 17, 2012 - 1:14 PM MDT   CDMA1X and EV-DO carrier channels are shared resources. In CDMA1X, many subscribers share the same carrier channel, their individual traffic kept theoretically orthogonal by code division. Likewise, in EV-DO, individual traffic is separated by time division. But what happens when Sprint (or any other CDMA2000 network provider) has deployed greater than one CDMA1X and/or EV-DO carrier channel on a given cell site? How does your handset determine which carrier channel to utilize? You might like to think that your handset would automatically choose the least loaded CDMA1X and/or EV-DO carrier channel. But that is not really the case. Instead, when multiple carrier channels are available, each cell site broadcasts a channel list message of the available carrier channels on that site. Upon receiving this list of multiple carrier channels, each handset then invokes a hashing algorithm to select which carrier channel to use. Think of it like a multi lane highway, but each car must choose a particular lane based on the car's license plate number. For CDMA1X, the hashing algorithm -- which is a kind of pseudo random number generator -- is seeded with the handset's ESN or the subscriber's MDN/MSID (i.e. phone number). Unless the subscriber changes devices or phone numbers, these values remain static, hence the carrier channel hash is quite predictable. And Sprint, for reference, seems to use MDN/MSID based hashing. Nearly a decade ago, I built a spreadsheet that emulates the CDMA1X hashing algorithm, downloadable as an XLS file. However, for EV-DO, the carrier channel hash is not quite so outwardly predictable. To seed the hashing algorithm, EV-DO uses a session number, which obviously varies from data session to data session. Each time that a handset powers up, crosses a SID/NID boundary, or even toggles airplane mode, for example, generates a new EV-DO data session, hence a new session number. And it is this session number that determines the output of the hashing algorithm. To demonstrate this process, I positioned myself in one location about a quarter of a mile distant from the north sector of a local cell site. Over the course of several minutes, I grabbed three screen caps of the EV-DO engineering screen on one of my handsets. In between each screen cap, I cycled airplane mode at least once, each cycle generating a new data session. In the span of four minutes, I was able to get my handset to hash to each of the three EV-DO carrier channels deployed on this site. When I arrived at the site, my handset hashed to PCS 0175, which is the third EV-DO carrier channel (F3) in the channel list message. The second and third hashes after toggling airplane mode several times were to PCS 0150 (F2) and to PCS 0100 (F1). See the Channel Number field depicted in the screen caps:   In addition, here is a raw RF look with a spectrum analyzer at the seven CDMA2000 carrier channels deployed on this cell site sector: The four CDMA1X carrier channels are PCS 0050, PCS 0075, PCS 0125, and PCS 0200. As is oft the case, the three aforementioned EV-DO carrier channels -- PCS 0100, PCS 0150, PCS 0175 -- are distinguishable by their slightly higher RF power output. Furthermore, for those curious, PCS 0025 (at the far left of the graph) and PCS 0225, PCS 0250, and PCS 0275 (at the right of the graph) are fallow spectrum on this site. If deployed, PCS 0025 would be the next EV-DO carrier channel (F4), PCS 0275 the final EV-DO carrier channel (F5), while PCS 0225 and PCS 0250 would be additional CDMA1X carrier channels. Back to the hashing algorithm, while it attempts to distribute users more or less evenly among available EV-DO carrier channels, it does not take into account several other factors, such as loading and backhaul. For example, if you are stuck on a carrier channel and sector with a few data hogs who have stronger signal than you do, your data speeds will likely suffer as the "fair and proportional" scheduler integral to the EV-DO airlink attempts to maximize total throughput by allocating greater time slots to the users with better signal quality. Additionally, backhaul may not be distributed evenly among deployed carrier channels, so it is possible that some carrier channels may have inherently greater data capacity than others do. Another benefit of rehashing to a different carrier channel is that you may be able to connect to a closer cell site. Because not all cell sites have the same number of deployed EV-DO carrier channels, carrier channel hashing is an imperfect process. To illustrate, the cell site (call it cell site "A") that I detailed above for this trial has three EV-DO carrier channels (F1, F2, F3), as duly noted. But the adjacent cell site to the north (call it cell site "B") has only two EV-DO carrier channels (F1, F2). A handset that hashes to F3 on cell site "A" will cling to carrier channel PCS 0175 even as it moves north well into the coverage area of cell site "B." Interference will not be a problem, as cell site "B" does not transmit PCS 0175, but signal strength (and data speeds) will diminish until cell site "A" drops below a network defined threshold, at which point the handset will handoff to cell site "B" and hash to PCS 0150. This can require substantial movement and/or time. So, if you always want the most crisp EV-DO handoffs, you can try to ensure that your handset always hashes to F1, the EV-DO carrier deployed on essentially every site in the market. To conclude, by no means is airplane mode a panacea for slow 3G data ills. EV-DO carrier channel deployment and backhaul can vary from site to site, while loading can also vary from site to site, even from minute to minute. And EV-DO networks in some cities are just generally overloaded. But if you are at work, in a restaurant, at a park, etc., and find yourself with unbearably slow 3G data or lower than usual signal strength for that location, try toggling airplane mode. A 30 second on/off cycle of airplane mode will start a new data session and could get your handset to rehash to another EV-DO carrier channel that is on a closer site, has better backhaul, and/or is currently less loaded.   Sources: Qualcomm, author's field data

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

S4GRU Compares our LTE Coverage Map with Sprint's in St. Joseph, Missouri

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, August 3, 2012 - 4:25 PM MDT   There has been a lot of discussion around our forums, and certainly in many other places, how Sprint's LTE coverage maps of launched markets have been pretty overly optimistic. To say it nicely. Today I decided to create some LTE coverage maps for St. Joseph, Missouri for our members usage, and for grins, I pulled up the Sprint LTE coverage map for the same area. The difference is pretty noticeable. In our map, we used data that we have from Sprint about each of the live sites, including tower height and downtilt. So we can enter in as accurate information as possible. We use the coverage creators that are provided from our friends at CloudRF.com. You can see the differences below.   S4GRU St. Joseph LTE Coverage Map. In the map above, you can see the LTE coverages for Sprint from the live sites in the area. This was produced by S4GRU using CloudRF.com. Green denotes Sprint 4G LTE Coverage area.   Sprint St. Joseph LTE Coverage Map. In this map you can see the LTE coverage as reported from coverage.sprint.com over the same area. Orange denotes Sprint 4G LTE Coverage area.   We recognize that this is far from a scientific analysis. The data used to create our map is accurate, however we are dependent on the modeling used by the coverage generator at CloudRF. We feel that CloudRF though has been very accurate in previous analyses we have conducted including our own field verification tests. So we feel pretty confident in our results posted here. It appears that Sprint has indeed posted very flattering LTE coverage in its maps so far. At least in regards to St. Joe. However, this was already supported by dozens of comments by our members as well. For the time being, I would not consider using Sprint's LTE coverage maps for very defined coverage of a specific neighborhood or street, but rather just to know if they have some live sites in a general area.   EDIT 6:30 PM MDT: S4GRU Writer, A.J. Shepherd, was in St. Joe this evening and reported a new live site that was not on our maps. We have added it and changed the coverages to reflect this recent addition.     FURTHER READING FOR S4GRU SPONSORS: We have an interactive version of our St. Joseph coverage map in our Sponsor section, and have a discussion thread posted there.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Coverage of the Q2 12 Sprint Nextel Corp Earnings Conference Call

Sprint Nextel revealed their second quarter 2012 corporate earnings in a conference call to their investors today and S4GRU was covering for news on Network Vision. Network thinning of the iDEN network is complete, taking 1/3 of Nextel towers off air. The Nextel network was built to support 20 million subscribers, but was only supporting 4.4 million subscribers, so it could easily be thinned without [much] noticeable change in street coverage. Sprint also converted 60% of the Nextel subscriber loss into their Sprint subscriber base. Interestingly, they stated that Verizon has been the biggest poacher of subscribers leaving Nextel, grabbing 50% of former subscribers in the last 4 1/2 years. In that same timeframe, Sprint has grabbed 25%, AT&T 20% and T-Mobile 5%.     On the Network Vision topic: 4 additional cities will launch, including Baltimore, by the end of August.*Edit* Cities were disclosed VIA press release following the conference call. They are: Baltimore, MD Gainesville, GA Manhattan/Junction City, KS Sherman-Denison, TX   Over 2,000 sites are currently online with 12,000 sites to be online by the end of the year Network Vision towers are seeing 10-20% additional voice minutes usage per tower, overnight after activating Network Vision. This will equal roaming savings for Sprint, and ESMR will only increase that savings. CEO Dan Hesse confirmed that Sprint will be releasing the Motorola Photon Q "in the very near future." It will be a QWERTY slider "with robust business and consumer features." It will also be sporting world phone capability. Several hundred Network Vision sites are waiting for backhaul, and will turn on when the backhaul is installed, several hundred more sites have birds nesting on them and Sprint won't be able to turn them on until the birds leave, according to the conference call. Sprint sold 1.5 million iPhones during the quarter, even though other carriers saw slowing of sales with rumors ramping up that the new iPhone would support LTE. 40% of the iPhone sales were to new customers. They also stated that iPhone customers require less customer support and are expected to churn less than customers on other phones. Mr. Hesse confirmed that Sprint is not looking to change plans in the near future. Things are looking up for Sprint. This quarter saw their highest ARPU and their lowest churn rate to date. They posted a larger loss than Q1, but beat their revenue goals for Q2. For more detailed financial information, check the source link below.   Source: http://investors.spr...spx?iid=4057219 http://finance.yahoo...-141200985.html -Thanks to S4GRU sponsor marioc21 for finding this link!

pyroscott

pyroscott

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

EDITORIAL: C'mon people, you really do want access to the LTE network early, right?

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 5:01 PM MDT   I am taking a moment and breaking from our normal Network Vision news and educational pieces to write an editorial. I try not to bloviate, but I feel like I am at a breaking point here. This weekend was a moment of great joy for many of us Sprint Network Enthusiasts as 4G LTE started going live at hundreds of sites across the country in a few select markets. However, our geek party was frequently interrupted by incessant whining. One of the chief frequent whines I heard around S4GRU was related to LTE coverage. And it still is populating our forum posts, my e-mail box and our social media sites. You folks need to wake up and get a grip. The world is not ending. S4GRU has been out there building expectations among our members and readers from the beginning. We have written hundreds of articles on Network Vision/LTE deployment. Anyone who actually reads our content knows that Sprint is targeting 40% market completion at market launch. 40%. That means 60% of the sites within a market do not have LTE at the time a market is planned to launch. Sprint did not quite even get to 40% with these July 15th markets, but proceeded any way based on demand from customers wanting access.   You hypocrites! You know, I find it very interesting that so many people were pushing Sprint to stop blocking LTE connections. There was a large battle cry from most Sprint LTE device holders in active deployment areas for Sprint to stop blocking completed LTE sites. "Let me use my LTE, darn it!" This was heard over and over again. We even were championing for Sprint to open up their LTE network at completed sites for customers to use. Finally, Sprint does exactly that. Instead of rejoicing, there was whining en masse. "I live in the San Antonio market. And the block where I live behind the Piggly Wiggly doesn't have LTE right this very second. Sprint sucks. I'm leaving!" Really? Are people that messed up??? Many of you should be ashamed of your self-centered ridiculous tantrums that you posted, publicly embarrassing yourself. You act as if Sprint actually went through maps and hand picked who would win and who would lose in early deployments. This is far from reality.   Early access or comprehensive coverage? Pick one, you can't have both The question I have for you folks is this... Should Sprint have waited until these markets were 100% complete later this year to allow the completed LTE sites to be used, or should they open up the markets now where at least the completed sites can be used? This is a no-brainer! Open them up now and every additional site that goes live every week, as they are complete! These markets that have launched are not done. They are still active deployment zones and additional sites will come live every week until completed. And we will update the progress here at S4GRU. This ridiculous moaning and complaining will just make it more likely that Sprint will not allow other markets to go live early. If all they hear from their customers are the whiny bunch, then they will think their customers don't want LTE until it is completely ready, with no bugs and completely 100% deployed. You may not like it, but the complainers are speaking for all of us.   Time to stand up and go on the offensive If you want to continue to have access to the LTE network early, then you need to stand up and start posting out there the counter story. The tech sites, blogs and forums are being inundated with these people speaking on your behalf. Complaining about all the problems of an early launch and early access to LTE. You may even have to go to the Sprint Community Forums and help defend the intelligent decision to open up LTE early. The counter point needs to get out there. It's time for the Wireless Nerds to take our rightful place. We want access to the network early. We would rather live with a few bugs and limited coverage than to not have access to Sprint's LTE network at all. Sprint needs to continue opening up their LTE network even in more places where they can. And they will be afraid to do that in the next markets if we don't take a stand. I know this editorial may be a little over the top for some of you. But I am mad as hell, and I'm not going to let the whiners speak over our voices any more. We are Sprint, not them!   Signed, Robert Leader of the Nerds   EDIT: Changed the two references to bitching. I violated my own rules.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint LTE launched today and a video for your viewing pleasure

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Sunday, July 15, 2012 - 10:44 AM MDT   Launch day is here. Sprint has launched 4G LTE in the 5 markets and more than a dozen cities as they announced a few weeks ago. 4G LTE is available now in: Atlanta, Georgia Dallas, Texas Ft. Worth, Texas Houston, Texas San Antonio, Texas Athens, Georgia Rome, Georgia Waco, Texas Galveston, Texas Conroe, Texas Huntsville, Texas Corsicana, Texas Greenville, Texas New Braunfels, Texas Mineral Wells, Texas Gainesville, Texas Freeport/Lake Jackson, Texas St. Joseph, Missouri Manhattan, Kansas Wichita, Kansas (isolated locations) More coverages to be added every week. Stay tuned to S4GRU.com for all the latest. And now, for the launch day video:     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX9Agiuzie0     Live Atlanta/Athens LTE sites as of the last S4GRU update. There are more sites live at this time than what we are reporting. But more coverage will be added weekly.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint LTE is now discoverable in the Kansas market

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, July 12, 2012 - 9:58 AM MDT   Yesterday, dozens of S4GRU members in the Kansas market started rejoicing as they saw 4G icons start appearing on their Sprint LTE devices. Several threads were posted in our forums, and my e-mail box started filling and text chimes on my phone started ringing. LTE was coming live in the Kansas City area. Now I have received confirmation from sources within Sprint, that they have indeed stopped blocking LTE connections in the Kansas market. LTE is now discoverable for Sprint LTE devices. Every complete and signed off LTE site in the market is now live. Even in places outside Kansas City, like St. Joseph, Missouri and Manhattan, Kansas. And more are expected to go live every week until the market is 100% complete. We should hear more about other Sprint LTE markets soon. Stay tuned. Let us know if you are getting any 4G LTE service in other communities in the market. Like Wichita, Hutchinson, Topeka, etc.   Live LTE sites as of the last S4GRU update. There are more sites live at this time than what we are reporting. Solid coverage is isolated around Olathe and Independence. But more coverage will be added weekly.

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sprint LTE is now discoverable in the DFW, Houston, San Antonio & Austin markets

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Saturday, July 14, 2012 - 8:46 AM MDT   It's been quite a beehive of activity around the S4GRU forums as members proclaim that 4G icons are appearing live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, Houston, San Antonio and in isolated spots around the Austin market (most notably around Waco). 4G LTE is appearing in these markets. I have now received confirmation from sources within Sprint, that they have indeed stopped blocking LTE connections in the DFW, Houston, San Antontio and Austin markets. LTE is now discoverable for Sprint LTE devices in these locations where LTE sites have been completed. Every fully configured and signed off LTE site in these markets is now live. Currently, this leaves only th Atlanta market to be lit up of the July 15th announced cities. Our sources do not know when that is yet, but feel like it may even still be later today. There is a flurry of activity occurring. There have also been reports of some LTE sites appearing in the Chicago market by S4GRU members. But these are very scattered and inconsistent. Please note that the live LTE sites in the Austin market is very limited. Mostly around Waco. But there are a very few isolated sites live in the Austin metro area. We are awaiting details on locations.   Live DFW LTE sites as of the last S4GRU update. There are more sites live at this time than what we are reporting. But more coverage will be added weekly.     Live Houston LTE sites as of the last S4GRU update. There are more sites live at this time than what we are reporting. But more coverage will be added weekly.     Live San Antonio LTE sites as of the last S4GRU update. There are more sites live at this time than what we are reporting. But more coverage will be added weekly.     Live Waco LTE sites as of the last S4GRU update. There are more sites live at this time than what we are reporting, even a few around the City of Austin. But more coverage will be added weekly.

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

(UPDATED) LG Eclipse 4G casts an early shadow

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, August 10, 2012 - 6:54 PM MDT   Update: The previously dubbed LG Eclipse is being released November 11 as the Optimus G. Additionally, the LTE 1900 EIRP figures that were missing from the original FCC filing were added six weeks later in a Class II Permissive Change application. Max LTE 1900 EIRP is 23.51 dBm -- though with substantial variability (up to 4.5 dB) due to differences in carrier frequency, bandwidth, and modulation (QPSK/16-QAM). Furthermore, CDMA1X/EV-DO 800 max ERP has been increased by approximately 2 dB to 23.17 dBm.   To quote the inimitable Yogi Berra, "It's déjà vu all over again." And here we go again. S4GRU is happy to announce yet another breakdown of an FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization filing for a major device headed to Sprint's upcoming Network Vision enhanced LTE overlay. Since this spring, we have analyzed the FCC authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, and yet to be released Motorola Photon Q 4G. Today, the expected LG Eclipse 4G hit the FCC database under the model number LG LS970, and here are the RF facets that we have been able to glean: 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 and 10 MHz carrier bandwidths 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi; max MCS index 7 (i.e. 20 MHz channel, 400 ns guard interval, single spatial channel) SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous Wi-Fi tether SVDO support absent Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 21.86 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 25.33 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 21.68 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800) NFC antenna integrated into battery cover Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagrams below)   Notably missing from the presumed LG Eclipse's FCC filing are two things: SVDO capability and LTE band 25 EIRP test results. Rumor has it that the Eclipse will utilize Qualcomm's upcoming and highly anticipated APQ8064 quad core 28 nm "Krait" processor. The quad core difference is noteworthy compared to the dual core MSM8960 chipset that has proven very successful in the EVO LTE and Galaxy S3, et al. But the MSM8960 incorporates a multimode modem, while the APQ8064 is a naked processor. If rumor has it right, then the Eclipse will also have to utilize at least one separate modem chipset. And it would seem that LG has chosen at least one CDMA1X/EV-DO modem that is not capable of voice "Fusion," which would enable SVDO with a second modem. So, like its Viper predecessor, the Eclipse appears to be a multiple chipset design. But unlike the Viper, the Eclipse is absent SVDO. Furthermore, the FCC OET filing includes requisite CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800 ERP/EIRP figures but lacks LTE 1900 EIRP figures. So, do not hold your breath for a release date. We will leave it to other sources to speculate/report on the ergonomics and other technical attributes of the upcoming LG device. But we expect that LG and its authorized testing lab will have to file supplemental results before the supposed Eclipse makes its way into the hands of eager Sprint subscribers.   Source: FCC

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

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

Jack of all bands: iPhone 5 FCC OET review

by Ian Littman
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, September 14, 2012 - 9:35 AM MDT   In the past, Apple’s iPhone wasn’t quite the ideal Sprint phone from a network perspective; it lacked 4G of any sort and didn’t include support for Sprint’s nascent SMR-800 1x CDMA network (in place of Nextel iDEN). The situation could be worse (for example, CricKet iPhones can’t get native service in many of the company’s newer, AWS-only markets), but as a flagship phone it was odd to see the iPhone lacking one core piece of Network Vision support that every other Sprint phone released in the past year has had. That issue has now been solved...sort of. I’m Ian Littman, standing in for AJ (aka WiWavelength) with an analysis of the non-AT&T edition (A1429) of the iPhone. I’ll focus on the pieces that Sprint subscribers will use, as the phone supports a cornucopia of bands and technologies (quad-band GSM/EDGE, quad-band HSPA+ including dual-carrier, EvDO Rev. B with up to 3 carriers in the cellular band) in addition to CDMA 1x, EvDO and LTE (in 2100MHz and 1800MHz, which Sprint won’t use). So, without further ado, the rundown:   On the surface it looks like the iPhone is a very capable device; it can realistically hit 100 Mbps on LTE, using both its antennas to receive (but not send) the signal on a 20MHz channel (which a number of Sprint phones don’t support, my Galaxy SIII included). It supports a ton of bands (my bet is that even the “GSM version” of the A1429 has CDMA built in, but it is not certified/disabled in non-CDMA countries) and technologies. However the good news ends there. For example, several Sprint phones now have SVDO and/or SVLTE support; you can make a call on 1x while maintaining a data connection. The Sprint/Verizon versions of the iPhone, to our knowledge, can’t do that. The best it can do is VoIP over LTE or EvDO...garden-variety VoIP, not the more robust VoLTE variety. Being able to transmit LTE on only one antenna isn’t terribly surprising...most current phones are 1x2 MISO (Multiple In Single Out), however Apple’s attention is obviously directed at carriers with HSPA networks when it comes to delivering a high-quality wireless experience. Another example of this is Apple’s HD Voice ability; Sprint will be the first US carrier to support the technology, but not on the iPhone, which can only use HD Voice over WCDMA. Apple’s ability to pack a ton of bands into a single, super-slim phone is definitely a technological marvel, particularly in conjunction with a wide-channel LTE network (since the iPhone’s WiFi is SISO, it may be able to pull down data more quickly on LTE than on 802.11n, given ideal conditions on both). However a tailor-made Sprint phone it most definitely is not, though the inclusion of SMR CDMA softens the blow a bit. As an aside, the AT&T edition of the iPhone supports LTE in the PCS (without G), AWS and Cellular bands, in addition to AT&T’s current 700MHz lower-B/lower-C network (band classes 2, 4, 5 and 7, respectively). So the AT&T edition of the phone is actually a better fit for providers like CricKet, MetroPCS and US Cellular...if not for the glaring omission of those carriers’ 3G network technologies (and VoLTE).  

S4GRU

S4GRU

CONFIRMED: Network Vision/LTE deployment is under way in the Indianapolis market

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 9:45 AM MDT   S4GRU members in the Indianapolis market have been wondering if something is up recently. Seeing a little activity at Sprint sites in the area. The past couple of days, flickerings of Sprint LTE have been discovered in the NE and East Indy suburbs. Network Vision/LTE deployment is now confirmed under way in the Indianapolis market. As you can see in the map at the bottom, diligent S4GRU members have been out scouring the city trying to find spots of live Sprint LTE. And they have found them. But it is definitely early in the deployment. The signals come and go throughout the day in these locations. Undoubtedly, Samsung's subcontractors are testing the signals, and often turn them off when they leave the site for the day. We are quite happy to see work is definitely occurring in the Indianapolis market. And it is starting right on time, as the first LTE sites were expected around early October. Given a few rough starts to LTE deployment, it seems Sprint is starting to get things under control and maybe they will start hitting their stride with their OEM's and subcontractors soon.   Preliminary Speed Test and Tower Phots. S4GRU Members hit the streets to find and document the LTE signals around Indy. The speed test is rather slow compared to other Sprint LTE deployments with a good signal. But they only just have begun testing in this market. Images from S4GRU member newboyx.   This is the first evidence of Network Vision/LTE deployment we have discovered in the Indy market. Deployment is likely occurring over the entire market and will soon be in many other communities in the vicinity. Sprint is targeting several cities in this market for launch before the end of the year. The following Indianapolis market communities were listed in Sprint's next 100 city list, including Anderson, Columbus, Carmel, Muncie, and of course, Indianapolis. At this point, it seems that other communities in this market will likely not have enough LTE service to constitute the service launched until some time after the New Year. In the interim, LTE signals may come and go around Indy. They are just in the infancy of deployment. Sprint has been pretty consistent in blocking LTE connections at completed sites after they accept the improvements from the Network Vision OEM/subcontractors. Also, it may not be surprising to see isolated LTE signals appear in other Central Indiana Sprint communities.   Sensorly.com LTE coverage map in Indianapolis, Indiana. Some S4GRU members hit the road and plotted LTE signals using the Sensorly Android map to illustrate some of the coverage by the newly active sites. Click on Map to Enlarge.

S4GRU

S4GRU

CONFIRMED: Network Vision/LTE deployment is under way in the Ft. Wayne/South Bend market

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, September 28, 2012 - 5:15 AM MDT   S4GRU received a tip from one of our members in Northern Indiana ten days ago Network Vision was spotted underway in the Ft. Wayne/South Bend market. He was able to take some photos (below) to show that new Network Vision panels indeed have been added at Site #CH03HO119 located on the south west side of Elkhart, Indiana. Yesterday, S4GRU members found Sprint LTE signals in this vicinity, reaching all over the south side of Elkhart out toward Goshen. Hurrah! Several members went out and started adding this coverage to Sensorly.com coverage maps. Sensorly has an Android app that people can download which can be used to upload 4G LTE coverages of wireless carriers to Google maps for tracking (and 3G/2G signals too). This is welcome news to Sprint customers in Northern Indiana. This work is also a little early based on the Network Vision schedules S4GRU has. Some of our members have joked in the past that this market gets preferential treatment from Sprint, because the Sprint CEO Dan Hesse went to school at Notre Dame. Although we have no evidence of any favoritism involved here, we are always happy to see any Network Vision progress and report it back to you.   Site #CH03HO119 in Elkhart, Indiana. The new Network Vision panel that contains LTE is in the middle of the bottom rack on the tower. The legacy PCS panels are on both sides. Photos from S4GRU member C.A.R.   This is the first evidence of Network Vision/LTE deployment we have discovered in the Ft. Wayne/South Bend market. Deployment is likely beginning over the entire market and will soon be in all corners, even the Fort Wayne area. However, only the communities of South Bend/Elkhart, Warsaw and Marion were included in the next 100 city list Sprint released a few weeks ago containing names of communities expected to have a launchable amount of LTE service before the end of 2012. At this point, it seems that other communities in this market will likely not have enough LTE service to constitute the service launched until some time after the New Year. In the interim, LTE signals may come and go around the South Bend/Elkhart area. They are just in the infancy of deployment. Sprint has been pretty consistent in blocking LTE connections at completed sites after they accept the improvements from the Network Vision OEM/subcontractors. Also, it may not be surprising to see isolated LTE signals appear in other Northern Indiana Sprint communities. This market also contains a remarkable amount of 1x sites. Sites that essentially only have 2G speeds, never receiving 3G EVDO upgrades. It is believed that these sites will go from 1x service only to 3G and 4G LTE at the same time. Essentially skipping the entire 3rd generation of wireless service. There are thousands of rural customers looking forward to having a 3G network finally, at the same time they get 4G wireless broadband. Sensorly.com LTE coverage map in Elkhart, Indiana. Several S4GRU members hit the road and plotted LTE signals using the Sensorly Android map to illustrate some of the coverage by the new site.

S4GRU

S4GRU

A Win for the Midrange: Samsung Galaxy Victory OET Review

by Ian Littman
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 7:05 AM MDT   At around $100 with a contract (before the inevitable wave of promotional offers that have already hit its big brother, the Galaxy SIII), the Samsung Galaxy Victory falls under the definition of a midrange smartphone. It has specs somewhat reminiscent of the old Epic 4G: a 5 megapixel rear camera with 720p video recording, a front camera, a 4-inch 800x480 screen and a not-particularly-slim profile. However it differs from that older device by dropping the keyboard, upping the battery to the same-capacity (but, compared to my SIII, not the same model) 2100 mAh unit found in the SIII, pushing the Android version to 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and swapping WiMAX for LTE as its 4G technology. But that’s information you can get anywhere. What about the phone’s maximum output powers, simultaneous-data-and-voice capabilities, and antenna placement? You’ve come to the right place. Spoiler: this device looks solid.     This phone isn’t nearly as hot of an item as the iPhone 5 (nor does it have the specs...or the price to give the Apple product a run for its money), however the iPhone happens to be a very fair device to compare the Victory to in terms of radio performance. On CDMA the iPhone marginally wins out on PCS (by 0.31 dB), however it’s trounced by the Victory in SMR with a 4.69 dB lead in transmit EIRP, showing the difference between a jack-of-all-trades and a purpose-built Sprint phone. On the LTE side, the iPhone wins out by around 3.3 dB on the EIRP front, however this number decreases to fall in line with the Victory if the iPhone’s upper antenna is used (the Victory only transmits EvDO and LTE with its upper antenna). Plus, the Victory can hold a voice call on 1x while utilizing EvDO or LTE for data. iPhone comparisons aside, the Victory is a phone very obviously made with Sprint in mind. Radio figures actually look better across the board than either the Evo 4G LTE or the Galaxy SIII, though these numbers only describe the device’s transmit power, not how well it can receive a signal in a marginal area. Still, as midrange phones with LTE go, the strong radio characteristics of the Victory (or, as Sprint calls it, the Samsung Galaxy Victory 4G LTE) add to the list of reasons to get this phone over something else of the same ilk.  

S4GRU

S4GRU

NewCo needs to drop some of the PCS from MetroPCS

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, October 5, 2012 - 8:00 AM MDT   Unless you have been under a telecom rock the past 48 hours -- or stuck in the boonies with only a GSM device (I kid, I kid) -- you have read that T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS have agreed in principle to a complicated reverse merger arrangement that would create a combined carrier, at least provisionally called NewCo. Now, Sprint has jumped back into the fray, this after Sprint's executive leadership had readied a bid for MetroPCS earlier this year but was vetoed by the board of directors. Sprint's motivations for pursuing a counter bid could be multifold. Sprint could actually be trying to acquire MetroPCS, feeling a sense of urgency that it did not this spring. Plus, Sprint's perception on Wall Street has improved dramatically during the past few months, making a merger a more financially palatable prospect. Sprint could be attempting to force T-Mobile to sweeten its offer for MetroPCS, potentially costing competitor T-Mobile additional financial resources. Sprint could be trying to gain some concessions in order to allow the merger to proceed. That last possibility is what this article will explore, namely, that NewCo would agglomerate an egregious amount of PCS 1900 MHz spectrum in several markets in which Sprint also happens to be a bit PCS spectrum shy. By throwing its own hat into the ring, Sprint should pressure NewCo to divest excess PCS spectrum to Sprint voluntarily. Alternatively, Sprint could lobby the FCC, oppose the merger and its transfer of spectrum licenses, and try to get some mandated divestitures that way. To illustrate, MetroPCS currently operates in at least some PCS spectrum in 10 major markets. The linked spreadsheet below compares NewCo's potential PCS A-F block spectrum holdings to Sprint's current PCS A-F block spectrum holdings in those 10 markets.     https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArY31Mr219-ydE1tRVdJS19ocjBZXzVibk01Wm5wLWc&usp=sharing In those 10 markets, Sprint holds 20-30 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum, while NewCo would have 35-60 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum, including 50-60 MHz in four of the markets. Considering that 60 MHz represents fully half of the total 120 MHz bandwidth of the traditional PCS band, that is an outrageous amount of PCS spectrum -- especially for a carrier that is hitching its LTE wagon to AWS, not PCS. Even AT&T would blush at acquiring that much spectrum within a given band. Keep in mind, too, that this analysis does not take into account the 40-60 MHz of AWS 2100+1700 MHz spectrum that NewCo would hold in those same 10 markets, including 50-60 MHz in all but Atlanta. And that 50-60 MHz would be even more than half of the total 90 MHz bandwidth of the AWS band. Furthermore, T-Mobile has made it known that it intends to pare down its exclusively PCS GSM/GPRS/EDGE spectrum utilization to 10 MHz per market, refarming its remaining PCS spectrum to W-CDMA/HSPA+ in a desperate attempt to attract unsubsidized iPhone users. The Dallas Region Case Study graphic from the NewCo investor presentation corroborates this plan. Moreover, the graphic shows how NewCo plans to operate DC-HSPA+ (20 MHz) for at least the next three years in parallel on both PCS and AWS plus 15-20 MHz FDD LTE on AWS -- an unnecessarily redundant, inefficient strategy. In short, NewCo does not need as much PCS spectrum as it is set to acquire. Otherwise, it is just as much a spectrum glutton as are VZW and AT&T. So, here is the solution. In Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, Sacramento, and San Francisco, NewCo should preemptively choose to or be required to divest 10 MHz of its accumulated PCS spectrum. Sprint would be the obvious buyer, as that would increase its PCS A-F block assets to 30 MHz in those markets. Meanwhile, NewCo would still retain 35-50 MHz of PCS in those same markets, plenty of spectrum for 10 MHz of GSM, 10 MHz of HSPA+ or even 20 MHz of DC-HSPA+, and 10 MHz of CDMA1X/EV-DO for MetroPCS legacy.   Sources: FCC, MetroPCS

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

Sprint "brings" LTE service to Greater Chicago and Other Communities

by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, October 22, 2012 - 11:00 AM MDT   Today, Sprint announced in four separate Press Releases that they have brought 4G LTE Service to the Chicagoland area, as well as Wichita Falls Texas, Hutchinson and McPherson Kansas, New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts. It is probably no accident that Sprint selected to use the phrase "Sprint brings 4G LTE" in lieu of "launched." Don't misunderstand though that this is good news. LTE service in these newly announced areas has actually been active for awhile (in some places several months). Sprint only announced the outer suburbs of Chicago as being live, but actually Sprint LTE service is live over 80% of the metro area. However, the more urban sites in Chicago need to have service bolstered up even greater before Sprint sticks their neck out and claim the service is live. Even in non launched areas of the Chicago market, LTE service is still usable where sites have been completed.   Chicago Sprint LTE Coverage Map. This is the LTE coverage map showing in Chicago as of today. Coverages shown are a little generous with their modeling. This map would indicate coverage is nearly total, but we think it's more like 80%, using a very liberal estimate. In both Hutchinson and McPherson, Kansas, each of those cities now has two LTE sites operable. For McPherson, that covers most of the area, only leaving one more site to upgrade. In Hutchinson, they have two of five sites broadcasting LTE, which covers most of the city pretty well. Service will get even better when full LTE density is achieved. Over in Wichita Falls, Texas, Sprint LTE is usable from three sites out of sixteen. So site density is very thin at this point. Sprint overly optimistically shows very good coverage on their maps saturating the entire Wichita Falls area. Service should be decent when near these three sites, otherwise you will likely only be able to get coverage outside. LTE performance will drastically improve as more and more coverage is added in the next few months. In Southeast Massachusetts, Sprint LTE is also live around Fall River and New Bedford. The first New Bedford LTE site went online about five weeks ago, and the service has been growing since. Currently both New Bedford and Fall River have three LTE sites a piece working. Which is about one third of the total sites in the area. So coverage is OK now, but will get even better over the next few months. On another note, our members discovered the new coverages show up Friday night on the Sprint website and figured out Sprint would be making these announcements on Monday. Clever group we have here at S4GRU.   NOTE: In our Sponsor Section, we have interactive maps that show all the completed sites to date, including the sites in the markets referenced in this article. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship

S4GRU

S4GRU

Sur la tablet: Apple iPad 4, iPad mini add Sprint LTE support

by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 12:05 PM MDT   Over the past six months, Apple's iPad 3 has racked up millions of sales, yet Google's (and Asus') Nexus 7 and Microsoft's Surface tablets have grabbed the headlines over the summer and into the fall. Yesterday, Apple struck back by not only rolling out iPad 4 the same year as iPad 3 but also introducing the long rumored iPad mini. S4GRU readers will recall that Sprint was left out of the iPad 3 sweepstakes, Sprint's nascent LTE network making its debut a few months after iPad 3's announcement. Certainly, some will bemoan that iPad 3 has been replaced in only half the usual yearly upgrade cycle, but Sprint users definitely benefit, as Sprint is fully in the fold this time with LTE support on the VZW/Sprint/global versions of both iPad 4 (A1960) and iPad mini (A1955). As soon as Apple's announcement event concluded yesterday, authorization filings for the new Sprint compatible iPads (iPad 4, iPad mini) started popping up in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database. So, joining our series of articles on on the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, and soon to be released LG Eclipse and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is an RF capability focused look at Sprint's first two iPads: CDMA1X/EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800) EV-DO Rev B Multi Carrier (i.e. 2xEV-DO, 3xEV-DO) LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 13, 25 (i.e. LTE 2100+1900/1800/850/750/1900) LTE 1900 1.4/3/5/10/15/20 MHz FDD carrier bandwidths W-CDMA bands 1, 2, 5, 8 (i.e. W-CDMA 2100+1900/1900/850/900) DC-HSPA+ (i.e. Dual Carrier) GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Wi-Fi hotspot (2.4 GHz only) support for all cellular airlinks Maximum RF ERP/EIRP (iPad 4): 23.10 dBm (CDMA1X 850), 22.90 dBm (EV-DO 850), 30.12 dBm (CDMA1X 1900), 29.08 dBm (EV-DO 1900), 23.30 dBm (CDMA1X 800), 23.40 dBm (EV-DO 800), 29.78 dBm (LTE 1900) Antenna gain (iPad 4): -1.58 dBi (Cellular 850 MHz), 2.44 dBi (PCS 1900 MHz), -2.24 dBi (SMR 800 MHz) Antenna locations (iPad 4): (see FCC OET diagram below) The inclusion of EV-DO Rev B Multi Carrier and the imposed limitations -- Cellular 850 MHz only, no 64-QAM -- are a bit curious. But these limitations will have no ramifications for use in North America, where EV-DO Rev B has not been deployed. All told, though, both iPad 4 and iPad mini look to be solid RF performers. Not surprisingly, since they share the same Qualcomm MDM9615 modem with iPhone 5, both iPads carry over basically the same airlink capabilities from the Sprint compatible iPhone 5 -- see S4GRU writer Ian Littman's article. And it should be noted that iPad mini, despite its diminutive size, does not lag behind its larger sibling. All ERP/EIRP figures are within ~1 dB between both iPads. In fact, for both EV-DO 1900 and LTE 1900 maximum EIRP, iPad mini trumps iPad 4 by ~0.5 dB. Furthermore, both iPads in their high ERP/EIRP outputs are less like power and size constrained handsets, more like mobile hotspots. Indeed, both iPads appear to be very capable hotspot devices.   Sources: FCC, Apple

WiWavelength

WiWavelength

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