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Sprint battling Network Vision deployment woes in the Windy City

S4GRU

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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 1:59 PM MDT

 

Can you hear me now? No, I mean really? This isn't some Verizon TV commercial joke.

 

This is really the situation in Sprint's Chicago market. Many of you, especially in outer Chicagoland, like in Joliet, Aurora, Elgin, Addison, Rochelle and Morris are getting dropped calls like crazy. And other performance issues. As any of you who closely follow S4GRU.com, you know that Samsung is rolling out Network Vision in the area in a big way. First starting in the outer market and working their way in.

 

A problem started occurring quickly after Network Vision sites started to go live in Chicago at the end of February. Calls started dropping, at a much higher rate than normal. And the complaints started rolling in. It took awhile to actually isolate the issue and discover the cause. Which Sprint and Samsung now well understand. However, the solution will not be easy, and maybe not even implemented.

 

What's your problem???

 

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Courtesy of verydemotivational.com

The problem, as many already know, exists at handoff between Network Vision sites and Legacy sites (existing sites). But this problem so far is only really happening in the Chicago market, and not the other markets actively deploying Network Vision upgrades at this time. Something unique is happening in Chicago. The new equipment being deployed is from Samsung. The existing legacy equipment is from Motorola. It is only in Chicago, so far to date, where this problem occurs.

 

Also, Sprint/Samsung has discovered that the site handoff problems only occur when transferring to the same channel. For instance, if you are on Channel 325 when on a Network Vision site, and your device gets handed over to Channel 325 on a legacy site, you may get dropped. However, if you get handed over to Channel 375, then you are safe and will not likely get dropped. The problem does not exist when being handed off to a new site on the same channel if both sites are NV sites, or both are legacy sites. Only the same channel transferring from a NV Samsung site to a legacy Motorola site.

 

The problem is exacerbated in rural and in less dense suburban areas, because most sites in these areas only have one, or possibly two, voice carriers. And in places where only one or two carriers are deployed, they were most often deployed on the same exact channel. Making it much more likely that you will be transferring to the same channel between NV and legacy sites in these areas. Since Network Vision work in the Chicago market started in more rural and exurban areas, this problem is occurring more often than it will when Samsung starts working in the Loop and there are multiple voice carriers (on different channels) at each site.

 

Solution options are slim

 

Sprint is working with Samsung and their network manager Ericsson to try to resolve the problem. However, no easy answers have been discovered. The first thought that comes to my mind, is to start trying to mix up voice carrier channels at legacy sites, so the number of transfers to NV sites on the same channel could be reduced significantly. However, this would involve a "truck roll" to every site and would likely be cost prohibitive.

 

If Sprint does nothing, the problem will work itself out in time. Since sites are being converted from Legacy systems to Network Vision every day, it's only a matter of time before the whole market is complete and there are no more handoffs between legacy and NV sites on the same channel. The areas where the drops occur are shifting every day as new sites come online.

 

Even if a solution is not figured out before Network Vision is completed in Chicago, it would still be important for Sprint and Samsung to solve this problem. Chicago is not the only market where Samsung is working on Network Vision and the legacy equipment was by Motorola. Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus are also in this position, but are not actively receiving Network Vision upgrades, yet.

 

We will bring you more info as we learn of it.

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Sucks to be in Chicago, hopefully a fix is in the mix, if not then I guess chicagoans will have to wait it out or make other pans.......Hopefully it will get resolved before they start upgrading the DC area

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Sucks to be in Chicago, hopefully a fix is in the mix, if not then I guess chicagoans will have to wait it out or make other pans.......Hopefully it will get resolved before they start upgrading the DC area

 

DC area is already being upgraded to Network Vision, and is unaffected by this issue. It only is known to affect markets where Samsung and Motorola base station equipment are handing off to each other on the same channel. No need to worry in DC.

 

Robert

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I wouldn't say it sucks to be in Chicago, just because of these handoff issues. They are one of the first markets to get Network Vision, which is awesome! Plus this issue shouldn't affect the same people for more than a couple weeks as Network Vision is deployed, like the article says.

 

It's a hiccup, but one I'd be willing to endure in my market to get Network Vision delivered so early.

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I wouldn't say it sucks to be in Chicago, just because of these handoff issues. They are one of the first markets to get Network Vision, which is awesome! Plus this issue shouldn't affect the same people for more than a couple weeks as Network Vision is deployed, like the article says.It's a hiccup, but one I'd be willing to endure in my market to get Network Vision delivered so early.

 

Yeah, put into those terms, I concur. I would give up those issues for NV early deployment in my market too!

 

Robert

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Agreed. A short term of growing pains in handoff issues is much better than waiting until 2013 to receive NV upgrades. My only concern is whether the Sprint reps are explaining to the customers the reasons why calls are dropping. Last thing Sprint wants customers to think is that the network is getting unreliable for even voice calls. I am sure Sprint is already aware about its bad rep for the 3G data speeds.

 

I don't know what other OEM makes the legacy equipment but lets hope that the issues are only limited to just Samsung and Motorola.

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I would be interested to see if there are other affected NV partner/equipment. In the past few months (here in San Diego), I am having constant dropped calls when mobile (I assume it is during a tower handoff as i am motion) and I will go from 5 bars to none, drop the call only the have 5 bars of signal after travelling less than 100 feet.

 

In areas where there was great coverage, you may only get one bar or no signal signal at all (generally this poor coverage is lasting only a day or two at a time in certain areas but never in the same area twice)

 

Perhaps this means we are seeing a NV rollout sooner rather than later here?

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I would be interested to see if there are other affected NV partner/equipment. In the past few months (here in San Diego), I am having constant dropped calls when mobile (I assume it is during a tower handoff as i am motion) and I will go from 5 bars to none, drop the call only the have 5 bars of signal after travelling less than 100 feet.In areas where there was great coverage, you may only get one bar or no signal signal at all (generally this poor coverage is lasting only a day or two at a time in certain areas but never in the same area twice)Perhaps this means we are seeing a NV rollout sooner rather than later here?

 

According to the NV Schedule update on 3/30/2012, the very first San Diego market sites will start construction at the end of May. However, that means they are likely working on backhaul and setting base equipment cabinets now. But these are unlikley affecting handoff performance in any way. It would be something else causing that.

 

Robert

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I have family that live in Homer Glenn and they are getting hit hard by dropped calls. I told them to try and ride it out till NV is complete but they are dropping at least half.

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DC area is already being upgraded to Network Vision, and is unaffected by this issue. It only is known to affect markets where Samsung and Motorola base station equipment are handing off to each other on the same channel. No need to worry in DC.Robert

 

Thats good to know........Can't wait

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Since this is a hand off issue, would users who are stationary (i.e. at their home or workplace) be as impacted in the Chicagoland area? I only ask because I seldom make/take calls while in the car (unless someone else is driving) so I was just curious if stationary users would experience these issues as frequently as users moving from point A to point B.

One thing I've always championed about Sprint is that I NEVER get dropped calls - even now, when data speeds are often abysmal, I still get excellent voice service.

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Oh, and I meant to also add a big thank you for this post-even though I'm not in Chicago it is updates like these that keep me (and I suspect many others) coming back-where else will you get information like this on the behind the scenes goings on at Sprint regarding their network? Keep up the good work!

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Since this is a hand off issue, would users who are stationary (i.e. at their home or workplace) be as impacted in the Chicagoland area? I only ask because I seldom make/take calls while in the car (unless someone else is driving) so I was just curious if stationary users would experience these issues as frequently as users moving from point A to point B.One thing I've always championed about Sprint is that I NEVER get dropped calls - even now, when data speeds are often abysmal, I still get excellent voice service.

 

Less likely, but not fool proof. However, due to network load balancing, you can get shifted to another site without moving an inch. Happens all the time. And if you are being pushed off to a legacy site from a NV site, on the same channel in Chicago, you are likely to be dropped. But the chances go way up when you are mobile.

 

Robert

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When is network vision expected to be complete in Chicago, traveling there in June/July and hope to have reliable connection to contact friends and family

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When is network vision expected to be complete in Chicago, traveling there in June/July and hope to have reliable connection to contact friends and family

 

100% Complete? Next Winter. It will be largely complete in the Fall.

 

Robert

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DC area is already being upgraded to Network Vision, and is unaffected by this issue. It only is known to affect markets where Samsung and Motorola base station equipment are handing off to each other on the same channel. No need to worry in DC. ~Robert

 

+1

 

Is this issue expected to put them behind schedule? A delay in Chicago obviously means a delay in succeeding markets too.

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Less likely, but not fool proof. However, due to network load balancing, you can get shifted to another site without moving an inch. Happens all the time. And if you are being pushed off to a legacy site from a NV site, on the same channel in Chicago, you are likely to be dropped. But the chances go way up when you are mobile.Robert

Robert, this is CDMA, not GSM! On CDMA, the handset controls the handoff entirely. The only thing the tower can do on CDMA is command the handset to reduce the transmit power when the handset is too close to the tower to rectify the near-far problem. DO Advanced will allow the network to finally force your handset to switch EV sectors/towers. For now, your handset will always pick the sector with the best Ec/Io. It can also hook up to 2 or more sectors simultaneously. When it switches, the network FOLLOWS it, never commands it to switch.

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+1Is this issue expected to put them behind schedule? A delay in Chicago obviously means a delay in succeeding markets too.

 

Chicago is currently running a few weeks behind schedule. However, is it being driven by this issue? Not that I am aware of.

 

Robert

 

Robert, this is CDMA, not GSM! On CDMA, the handset controls the handoff entirely. The only thing the tower can do on CDMA is command the handset to reduce the transmit power when the handset is too close to the tower to rectify the near-far problem. DO Advanced will allow the network to finally force your handset to switch EV sectors/towers. For now, your handset will always pick the sector with the best Ec/Io. It can also hook up to 2 or more sectors simultaneously. When it switches, the network FOLLOWS it, never commands it to switch.

 

OK. However, Network Vision sites do indeed use DO Advanced.

 

Robert

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My mom lives in the Warrenville area of Chicago and I have had no complaints from her yet about dropped calls, cause if she did she would let me know as i am her tech nerd 10 hours away!

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This event happened here in NY, and almost caused me to leave. I had dropped calls, and red circles with periods of no service. Sprint needs to come clean with their subscribers about this problem. In Parkchester of the Bronx N.Y. I now have received down load/upload speeds of 1MB at times; which I guess is contributed network vision live.

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Very good, Robert! I learned a lot from this article. I was told that there were handoff issues between legacy and NV towers but did not know the details.

 

Funny how this site helps be do my job!

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Are some of the other "performance issues" delayed text messages? For the past month or so, I have been receiving txt messages that are at least 12 hrs old, if not more. I only receive the 'delayed' messges when I leave my home (or the tower that I'm connected to by my home). Also, is a call considered dropped if it is never picked up? I'll be in my home and the phone will ring but it ends / drops as soon as I pick up the phone to answer it.

 

I had convinced my wife to hold on to Sprint for unlimited data since our contracts end soon but if these issues continue much longer, we'll be leaving for another carrier.

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My mom lives in the Warrenville area of Chicago and I have had no complaints from her yet about dropped calls, cause if she did she would let me know as i am her tech nerd 10 hours away!

 

My office is in Warrenville, and when I'm making calls I will at time drop the same call 2-5 times. Quite frustrating.

 

Also, a new problem has popped up out here in Chicagoland. All my Sprint phones are showing that I'm in Eastern Time Zone. Found that out the hard way one day when my phone alarm woke me up an hour early, and I thought I slept in. Sheesh!

 

 

Robert - Thanks for sharing! Very informative article :)

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I don't know that DO Advanced will do anything to the 1x carrier associations. It may, but as far as I know (based upon Qualcomm's limited publications) it only allows the network to switch your EV carrier-- there's no indication that it will affect your 1x carrier for phone calls.

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I cant wait for this to be a problem in Cleveland that way i'll know we are getting network vision.

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