by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5:55 PM MDT
The news so many of our members have been eagerly awaiting...the announcement of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus occurred today. A LOT of information has been leaked out the previous weeks. More than I can ever remember from an Apple product. But some new information did come out today. And of most interest to our readers, is YES, Sprint Band 41 is supported. Welcome to Spark, our beloved iPhoniacs. Your wait for that is over.
Typically, FCC OET device articles are written by the S4GRU Technical Editor AJ Shepherd or his protege Josh McDaniel. But given tight publishing deadlines and even tighter work schedules, yours truly will take a stab at it. I pored through the Office of Engineering & Technology website to bring you these details.
A Band for everyone...well, almost
The number of LTE bands that all the new iPhone 6 variants support is staggering. Even supporting a few more than the Moto X+1 we told you about earlier today. The Sprint Model iPhone 6 (A1586) and iPhone 6 Plus (A1524) support 20 LTE bands! Including 4 TDD LTE bands, like Band 41. Sadly, all iPhone 6 variants do omit support for Band 12. So on Sprint that will limit some of the upcoming CCA rural LTE roaming (not to mention the sadness of Tmo subscribers for missing B12).
Sprint has announced that it is moving to have its devices support LTE roaming on its partner networks in the CCA and Sprint's RRPP program. The new iPhone 6s cover all these new partner bands, like B4, B5 and B17. Just missing B12. The Moto X+1 will be the first Sprint device to support B12 roaming. iPhone users will likely need to wait until next year's iPhone 6s refresh to get Band 12 access.
But the most exciting information is that the Sprint models of the new iPhone 6s both support Band 41. So now you data hungry iPhone users can start spreading your loads on the Spark network. Since the Spark network has a lot of capacity, and a lot of ability to add even more capacity (more than any other provider), the ability of iPhone users to use this band is extremely important. It may even start to alleviate some of the burden off Band 25, where many iPhone users now are stuck. But that may not be very likely as the uniband and dualband iPhones from previous years get traded in and handed down to offspring.
ERP/EIRP numbers to help anticipate RF performance
Below find the maximum ERP/EIRP Numbers for the LTE Bands relevant to the Sprint variant:
- 5 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.18dBm
- 3 MHZ FDD channels: max EIRP 23.07dBm
- 10 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.14dBm
- 5 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 19.00dBm
- 3 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 18.85dBm
[*]Band 41 (Spark)
- 20 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.86dBm
- 15 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 32.00dBm
- 10 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.97dBm
- 5 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.65dBm
[*]Band 4 (Roaming)
- 5 MHz channel - 23.97dBm
- 10 MHz channel - 23.96dBm
- 15 MHz channel - 23.99dBm
- 20 MHz channel - 23.88dBm
[*]Band 17 (Roaming)
- 5 MHz channel - 23.98dBm
- 10 MHz channel - 23.99dBm
NOTE: This is using the better antenna, on the best channel in the band, and with robust QPSK modulation. Although Sprint currently does not use B25 3MHz or 10MHz channels, nor B26 3MHz channels, nor B41 5, 10 or 15MHz channels, they were included for interest as it is plausible that Sprint could use these in the future at some point.
Simultaneous Voice/Data and VoLTE
As always, a hot question is whether the Sprint variants of the iPhone 6 support simultaneous voice and data. And the answer is...no. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus do not support simultaneous voice on CDMA2000 networks. So neither the Verizon nor Sprint variant can do simultaneous voice and data using CDMA1X voice. Just like the previous CDMA2000 iPhone models.
The Verizon version will support simultaneous voice and data on VoLTE. Verizon is just beginning to deploy its VoLTE network. Sprint will not begin deploying VoLTE (Voice over LTE) until mid-2015 at the earliest. It is not known if the Sprint variant can receive a software update in the future to enable VoLTE on Sprint iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when Sprint VoLTE starts to go live next year. In the mean time, Sprint iPhone users will only be able to use voice and data at the same time over Wi-Fi.
Carrier Aggregation/LTE Advanced Support
And the last point to cover is Carrier Aggregation. Yes, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus do support Carrier Aggregation (an LTE Advanced feature). However, this new iPhone is only limited to 20 MHz total aggregation.
So the iPhone 6 can aggregate two 5 MHz channels (5+5). And it can aggregate two 10 MHz channels (10+10). However, the total of the downlink channels cannot be greater than 20 MHz. So the iPhone 6 cannot bond two 15 MHz channels or do a 20+20 combination (because these exceed 20 MHz total downlink).
Since Sprint is only deploying Carrier Aggregation (LTE Advanced) to its Band 41 (Spark) network at this time, the iPhone 6 cannot handle that. This is due to Sprint currently only deploying B41 in wideband 20 MHz carrier widths. So the minimum two carriers being aggregated for Sprint would be 40 MHz wide, far exceeding the capability of the iPhone 6. The same is true of Verizon and T-Mobile wideband channels. They cannot do Carrier Aggregation on the iPhone 6 either on wideband. Of the big four, only AT&T currently has no wideband LTE carriers (i.e. none that exceed 10 MHz).
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer some pretty good ERP/EIRP numbers for Sprint customers, especially in Band 41 Spark. We expect some good and meaningful RF field results from our members soon. With Sprint announcing a new unlimited plan to lease a new iPhone 6 (16GB) for only $50 per month, some people are going to find a Sprint iPhone model irresistible.
And, as always, you can already start making your wish list for the presumed iPhone 6S next September. For wireless network enthusiasts like us, 40 MHz or 60 MHz Carrier Aggregation in Band 41 and support for Band 12 are at the top of most of our lists.
Oh yeah, and there was something about a wristwatch...
EDIT: Removed Carrier Aggregation limitation of equal sized channels............................................