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Teaser: "X" marks the spot for the first Sprint CCA/RRPP fully compliant handset

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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 12:21 PM MDT

 

As many of you know, Sprint recently established a partnership with members of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) as sort of a quid pro quo. This partnership is called the Rural Roaming Preferred Program (RRPP), and S4GRU wrote about the nascent RRPP in a recent article on The Wall.

 

In a nutshell, Sprint will gain pseudo native LTE coverage outside of its standard footprint, as RRPP members overlay Sprint's PCS 1900 MHz, SMR 800 MHz, and even BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum on their existing networks. In turn, RRPP members will get access to Sprint's LTE footprint, and maybe even more importantly for many of these small scale operators, they will benefit from Sprint's and SoftBank's economy of scale in device procurement.

 

Going forward, Sprint will create a device ecosystem that supports not only its native CDMA2000 band classes and LTE bands but also its RRPP partner LTE bands, namely band 2 LTE 1900, band 4 LTE 1700+2100, band 5 LTE 850, and band 12 LTE 700. The Nexus 5 almost pulled off that quadruple play last year, but that last LTE band has been a sticky wicket for CCA members, since AT&T was able to get its boutique band 17 LTE 700 pushed through the 3GPP. It left many CCA members that hold Lower 700 MHz A block licenses out in the cold, as they lacked access to some of the most popular devices created by the AT&T economy of scale.

 

Today, that changes. Trumping a presumed iPhone reveal in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) later this afternoon, Motorola unleashed the authorization documents this morning for the IHDT56QA3, the third variant of the 2014 Moto X to pass through the FCC OET. The big takeaway, as indicated in the title of this article, is that this Moto X with the expected model number XT1092 is the first Sprint/CCA/RRPP fully compliant LTE handset -- even if an iPhone variant possibly joins the group here in the next few hours.

 

In conclusion for this short Teaser, the FCC OET docs can speak for themselves. This table tells the whole LTE story for Sprint and its RRPP partners.

 

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We wanted to bring you the scoop as soon as possible, but stay tuned. S4GRU may expand this article as more information is gleaned from the FCC OET docs or becomes available elsewhere.

 

Source: FCC

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Ahhh, so USCC does not have a CSFB capable network?  So are you holding out that this is still a Sprint Moto device?

The USCC network does support CSFB. It added CSFB support and "visitor CSFB" (meaning that the USCC system can provision to fallback to a network it doesn't control) to the network after it got the iPhone. Of course, the overwhelming majority of USCC devices use SV-LTE, but with Verizon exiting the CDMA ecosystem (and eliminating all the profitability of SV-LTE with it, since China Telecom and KDDI don't use SVDO/SV-LTE either), the remaining CDMA operators will need to use CSFB to be able to get handsets that they can afford.

 

Sprint and Motorola have already confirmed that Sprint is not getting the 2nd Generation Moto X. US Cellular has confirmed that it will offer the 2nd Generation Moto X independently of everyone. As for the fact it supports GSM/WCDMA, my suspicion is that since AT&T doesn't allow LTE-only roaming, USCC will now begin offering devices with GSM/WCDMA so that roaming on AT&T band 17 networks will actually work properly. And of course, USCC would have the option of using T-Mobile as a roaming partner, too. Like AT&T, T-Mobile doesn't offer LTE-only roaming agreements. The agreements must include GSM and UMTS, too.

 

This is hardly unusual for CDMA operators. The U.S. was the only country where CDMA operators steadfastly refused to set up roaming agreements with GSM/UMTS operators. It was never a technical decision. It was purely a business decision to ensure lock-in to the technology and the carrier.

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The USCC network does support CSFB. It added CSFB support and "visitor CSFB" (meaning that the USCC system can provision to fallback to a network it doesn't control) to the network after it got the iPhone. Of course, the overwhelming majority of USCC devices use SV-LTE, but with Verizon exiting the CDMA ecosystem (and eliminating all the profitability of SV-LTE with it, since China Telecom and KDDI don't use SVDO/SV-LTE either), the remaining CDMA operators will need to use CSFB to be able to get handsets that they can afford.

 

Sprint and Motorola have already confirmed that Sprint is not getting the 2nd Generation Moto X. US Cellular has confirmed that it will offer the 2nd Generation Moto X independently of everyone. As for the fact it supports GSM/WCDMA, my suspicion is that since AT&T doesn't allow LTE-only roaming, USCC will now begin offering devices with GSM/WCDMA so that roaming on AT&T band 17 networks will actually work properly. And of course, USCC would have the option of using T-Mobile as a roaming partner, too. Like AT&T, T-Mobile doesn't offer LTE-only roaming agreements. The agreements must include GSM and UMTS, too.

 

This is hardly unusual for CDMA operators. The U.S. was the only country where CDMA operators steadfastly refused to set up roaming agreements with GSM/UMTS operators. It was never a technical decision. It was purely a business decision to ensure lock-in to the technology and the carrier.

 

Are you saying you feel that USCC may be thinking of WCDMA roaming on AT&T and/or Tmo, or that you know that this is in the cards?  It's one thing to say this is something technically possible that USCC could do, but it's quite another to say that USCC is heading that way.

 

There is certainly nothing indicative in just the USCC Moto X that would make you draw that conclusion.  As WCDMA compatibility has been included in most flagship CDMA devices the past few years.

 

Robert

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Looks like there's an error in the B26 frequency listing there; B26 should have different freqs than B5.

AJ, can you explain why the B26 LTE frequency range stated in the FCC document states from 824.7 MHz - 848.3 MHz.  Shouldn't it say 817 MHz - 848.3 MHz since Sprint only has 800 MHz spectrum in the 817-824 MHz range?  Isn't this out of the range of Sprint's spectrum unless its a typo?

No, it is not a typographical error.

 

The LTE band table is just an illustration and comes from the Part 22/24/27 test documents.  In FCC regulations, those three parts cover Cellular 850 MHz, PCS 1900 MHz, AWS-1 1700+2100 MHz, Lower 700 MHz, and BRS/EBS 2600 MHz.

 

Note the absence of SMR 800 MHz, which falls under Part 90.  For that reason, band 26 typically has two sets of test results -- the Cellular 850 MHz segment under Part 22 and the SMR 800 MHz segment under Part 90.  The former is depicted in the aforementioned LTE band table.

 

But I found something interesting this morning.  I checked the separate Part 90 test and noticed that the results were for band class 10 CDMA2000 only.  In other words, this 2014 Moto X variant was not tested for the SMR segment of band 26, or those test results were not submitted to the FCC.  And there is possibly the smoking gun -- the reason why this variant is reportedly not headed to Sprint.

 

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AJ

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