by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 2:40 PM MDT
S4GRU has been on a bit of a roll of late. We had an unusually quiet summer here on The Wall, as our writing staff was frequently away on summer vacation. But we have come back with a vengeance.
Earlier this month, we got the next Nexus handset scoop on the rest of the tech press with our discovery of the reappearance of the LG D820 authorization docs at the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) and supposition that the D820 circumstantially has a striking amount in common with the presumed upcoming Nexus 5. Additionally, last week, we brought you a quick dissection of the two new Sprint variant iPhone models with dual band LTE only minutes after Apple released the specs, not to mention, another FCC OET discovery -- a tri band LTE Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 clearly headed to Sprint
All three of those articles were "Teasers." We have decided to publish shorter articles more often when longer articles may not be immediately feasible for our writing staff. Then, down the road, expect more in depth follow up pieces, such as on the Nexus 5, iPhone 5S/5C, and Galaxy Mega 6.3. Today, though, we bring you another full length FCC OET airlink article on the presumed Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Late on Wednesday last week, authorizations for multiple Samsung Galaxy Note 3 variants -- all bearing the SM-N900 base numbering scheme -- started appearing in the FCC OET database. Other tech outlets had previously gotten a list of the model numbers and tied the N900A to AT&T, N900T to T-Mobile, N900V to VZW, and N900S to Sprint. But while the "A," "T," and "V" variants all arrived in the FCC OET, the "S" variant did not make an appearance, and additional info suggested that the "S" variant is instead for SK Telecom in South Korea.
Meanwhile, the N900R4, the "R4" variant, also had its authorizations posted to the FCC OET. And at least one tech site incorrectly pegged it as the one for Sprint and other CDMA2000 operators. But that clearly missed the absence of band class 10 CDMA1X 800, which has been a staple of Sprint devices for roughly two years now. In the end, the "R4" variant is coming to CDMA2000 operators, but USCC and C Spire are the likely destinations.
So, that left the N900P, the "P" variant, for Sprint, and the circumstantial evidence of being the only version with band class 10 CDMA1X 800 supports that inference. Thus, adding to S4GRU's continuing series of articles on the FCC OET authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, and LG G2 is Sprint's expected Samsung Galaxy Note 3:
- CDMA1X/EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800)
- LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900)
- LTE 5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
- LTE UE category 4
- W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850)
- GSM 850/1900
- 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- 802.11n MCS index 7 (single spatial stream, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
- 802.11ac MCS index 9 (single spatial stream, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth, 400 ns guard interval)
- SVLTE support, including SVLTE and mobile hotspot (both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz)
- SVDO absent
- RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 19.82-20.93 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 18.91-21.30 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 21.85-23.63 dBm (LTE 1900)
- RF conducted power maximum: 24.75 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800)
- CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
- NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
- Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
- Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)
By now, many of our readers have a solid understanding of how to analyze the bullet points listed above. As such, we will hit just some of the highlights.
Samsung has finally started adding LTE 10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth authorization to its Sprint devices. That may be inconsequential during the lifetime of these devices, but it is nice to see, nonetheless, as other OEMs have included 10 MHz FDD capability from the beginning.
The Note 3 is reportedly another world phone for Sprint. While the specs for FCC testing include only those bands licensed in the US, the GSM 850/1900 capabilities are actually quad band: GSM 850/900/1800/1900. Likewise, W-CDMA 850/1900 expands to include bands 1 and 8 for W-CDMA 2100+1900/900 outside of the US.
The Note 3 also follows the trend of devices released this summer that now support mobile hotspot via 5 GHz Wi-Fi. That can be handy in congested 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environments, and congested 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi environments are now basically everywhere that people live and work.
Devices with SMR 800 MHz capability seem to be coming through the FCC OET now with only conducted power testing, instead of radiated power testing. I suspected previously that a Class II Permissive Change would be required to include ERP testing, but that seems no longer to be the case. Looking back at the Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy S4 authorization docs, they submitted only conducted power specs for CDMA1X 800. Of course, the Galaxy S4 has already been out in the world all summer. I am not sure what to make of this, but Part 90 -- which governs SMR 800 MHz -- may not require ERP testing. So, going forward, we will report conducted power if that is the only data available.
But the phrase that dare not be heard among the committed is "single band." One LTE band. That is the elephant in the room in this article. Yes, the "P" variant is band 25 LTE 1900 only. Sources have suggested to S4GRU that tri band LTE handsets headed to Sprint will not support SVLTE. As such, some have hypothesized that Sprint sacrificed tri band capability for SVLTE support in the Note 3 because it is, indeed, a "phablet." Using a "phablet" as a phone against one's ear looks clownish, so using the "phablet" in hand with an earpiece or Bluetooth headset may be expected, leading to more SVLTE usage.
However, further examination of FCC OET docs on the multiple Note 3 variants and subsequently announced Sprint version Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 tri band "phablet" pokes some holes in that SVLTE theory.
The major revelation, which will bring no solace to Sprint subs who had been expecting and are now pining for a Sprint tri band Note 3, though, is that the "R4" version headed to USCC manages to support both SVLTE and quad band LTE: band 4, 5, 12, 25 LTE 2100+1700/850/700/1900.
See the antenna locations and simultaneous transmission paths diagrams:
The big takeaway is that Samsung has managed to cram in SVLTE and multi band LTE for relatively minor regional CDMA2000 operators. Why not Sprint?
Well, the Sprint variant Note 3 is a world phone, while the regional CDMA2000 operator variant is not. And the Sprint version has to support band class 10 CDMA1X 800 and band 25 LTE 1900 -- unlike any others. Does the engineering required for world phone and Sprint boutique band/class capabilities present an obstacle to multi band LTE? Is SVLTE worth the sacrifice?
Let the discussion flow...