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And the Band 41 marches on...in the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus for Sprint

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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5:55 PM MDT

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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:

  • Band 25
    • 5 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.18dBm
    • 3 MHZ FDD channels: max EIRP 23.07dBm
    • 10 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.14dBm

    [*]Band 26

    • 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).

 

Conclusion

 

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...

 

Source: FCC

 

 

 

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EDIT: Removed Carrier Aggregation limitation of equal sized channels............................................

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OK, so here's what I don't get... If A1586 has all the bands that A1549 has, plus the TDD LTE bands, then why make two models and not just go with A1586 for everyone?

It's a good question.  I raised the same question in our forums. It's being discussed there.

 

My personal feeling is that, at least for recent devices, if Sprint really wanted to be able to unlock devices for domestic use they and the OEMs could come up with a solution to do so but they choose not to (at least not until the "magic" date of 2-11-2015). In other words, I don't really think it's an OEM restriction like Sprint claims, but rather Sprint's choice not to pursue it at this point.

Yes, many feel that Sprint is doing it intentionally. But they are publicly proclaiming that they cannot. I think Apple would, or will, argue otherwise if it is not true. But we know this much, Sprint is SIM unlocking iPhones for qualified subscribers who ask for it, and they still will not work with other domestic providers after the SIM slot is unlocked.  So this is a device control.  Sprint cannot add anything to the iPhone.

 

Since Sprint has been open about receiving some devices that are capable of switching networks (like the Nexus 5), wouldn't it make more sense that perhaps the limitation is likely Apple's? Maybe Apple agreed to permanent domestic locking because of pressure from the Duopoly? Perhaps they think that they may be able to sell another iPhone if a domestic subscriber switches providers?  

 

The Feb 2015 date is because that is the joint date that CTIA members agreed to.  Not an arbitrary Sprint machination.  So it may be that the next iPhone will not have this block for CTIA members (which includes AT&T, Verizon, Tmo and Sprint).

 

There are lots of feelings. But Sprint has stuck its neck out on the line by publicly saying it does not have the ability to make a Sprint activated iPhone to be used on another domestic network. And until that point can be proven otherwise, I will give them the benefit of any doubt.

 

Robert

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...

 

Yes, many feel that Sprint is doing it intentionally. But they are publicly proclaiming that they cannot. I think Apple would, or will, argue otherwise if it is not true. But we know this much, Sprint is SIM unlocking iPhones for qualified subscribers who ask for it, and they still will not work with other domestic providers after the SIM slot is unlocked. So this is a device control. Sprint cannot add anything to the iPhone.

Since Sprint has been open about receiving some devices that are capable of switching networks (like the Nexus 5), wouldn't it make more sense that perhaps the limitation is likely Apple's? Maybe Apple agreed to permanent domestic locking because of pressure from the Duopoly? Perhaps they think that they may be able to sell another iPhone if a domestic subscriber switches providers?

 

The Feb 2015 date is because that is the joint date that CTIA members agreed to. Not an arbitrary Sprint machination. So it may be that the next iPhone will not have this block for CTIA members (which includes AT&T, Verizon, Tmo and Sprint).

There are lots of feelings. But Sprint has stuck its neck out on the line by publicly saying it does not have the ability to make a Sprint activated iPhone to be used on another domestic network. And until that point can be proven otherwise, I will give them the benefit of any doubt.

Robert

Sorry, no pass from me to Sprint on this one.

 

First of all, with respect to the doupoly argument... that one doesn't hold water since no one but Sprint does a domestic lock. Verizon hasn't locked their iPhones for years and AT&T and TMO do lock but they do the normal lock, without any domestic restrictions.

 

Second, Sprint already asks the OEM to do weird, unusual things for them with respect to device locking. Like for example the domestic lock business which no one else does. Another example is the remote unlocking process for say Samsung Galaxy devices. I mean, who does that but Sprint? No one. All the other carriers in the world can live with providing a code to be entered by the user when a foreign sim is inserted but Sprint has to be "special" and come up with an unlocking mechanism unique only to them.

 

My point is that the OEMs are already going out of their way to accommodate Sprint's silly & unusual locking policies so if Sprint asked, I am sure they could also accommodate removing the domestic lock as well (which they will be doing but only come February). Putting the blame on the OEMs on this one is not cool in my opinion.

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Putting the blame on the OEMs on this one is not cool in my opinion.

 

So I'm uncool in your estimation.  I won't lose any sleep.  The difference is I have cited official Sprint communication.  You have cited your feelings.  Until it's proven otherwise, that's their claim.  I don't claim to have any knowledge about it, personally.

 

I say you take it up with Sprint.  And do so publicly.  Maybe you can expose some massive Sprint lie and cover up.  Get to it!

 

Robert

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Wow that b41 performance seems significantly better than pretty much every other phone currently out there.  I wasn't really looking to purchase the new iPhone because I think it's a lateral move from the LG G3 (barring Android vs ios debates) but if the b41 performance is significantly better then that could sway me.  Do these FCC numbers generally translate to real world usage?

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Sorry, no pass from me to Sprint on this one.

 

First of all, with respect to the doupoly argument... that one doesn't hold water since no one but Sprint does a domestic lock. Verizon hasn't locked their iPhones for years and AT&T and TMO do lock but they do the normal lock, without any domestic restrictions.

 

Ah, Sprint devices should be unlocked domestically so that users can ostensibly churn with those devices in tow to AT&T or T-Mobile?  And that would be cool?

 

Give me a break.  That would be a double standard -- with the deck stacked squarely against Sprint.

 

AT&T and T-Mobile devices rarely support CDMA2000.  Even if they do, they do not support all of the appropriate CDMA2000 band classes and LTE bands for the Sprint network.  So, unlocked AT&T and T-Mobile devices are basically worthless on Sprint.

 

That is hardly a two way street.  AT&T and T-Mobile put up a roadblock by not generally supporting CDMA2000 in their devices; Sprint puts up a roadblock by not freely unlocking devices for domestic use.  Tit for tat.

 

GoWireless, you seem to have an agenda, and it appears to be anti Sprint.  Not cool.

 

AJ

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AJ, Verizon iPhone 5s/5c/6/6+ variants are fully unlocked out of the box for domestic and international use, and fully support Sprint and Verizon CDMA band classes along with all AT&T/T-Mobile bands. I currently own a Verizon 5s variant, and have been swapping VZW/T/TMUS SIMs since launch with zero issues.

 

Strangely enough, this is a second year in a row that Sprint gets it's own separate SKU that's firmware SIM locked for domestic operators, while Verizon gets the same exact unit as T-Mo/AT&T with activated CDMA capabilities. 

 

This makes lots of consumers wonder if there are political reasons behind this, rather than technical.

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Milan, as much as Apple would like it to be, the iPhone is not the entirety of the smartphone market.  Heck, it is not even the majority.  So, you can point to the iPhone as an exception, but it is not even close to the rule.  Get 90 percent of all AT&T and T-Mobile variants to support band class 10 CDMA1X 800, band 41 TD-LTE 2600, etc.  Then, we can talk a fair domestic unlocking policy.

 

Good luck...

 

AJ

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Ah, Sprint devices should be unlocked domestically so that users can ostensibly churn with those devices in tow to AT&T or T-Mobile?  And that would be cool?

 

Give me a break.  That would be a double standard -- with the deck stacked squarely against Sprint.

 

AT&T and T-Mobile devices rarely support CDMA2000.  Even if they do, they do not support all of the appropriate CDMA2000 band classes and LTE bands for the Sprint network.  So, unlocked AT&T and T-Mobile devices are basically worthless on Sprint.

 

That is hardly a two way street.  AT&T and T-Mobile put up a roadblock by not generally supporting CDMA2000 in their devices; Sprint puts up a roadblock by not freely unlocking devices for domestic use.  Tit for tat.

 

GoWireless, you seem to have an agenda, and it appears to be anti Sprint.  Not cool.

 

AJ

 

AJ, you a re misinterpreting my point. If Sprint wants to lock its devices to reduce churn or whatever, then fine but come out and say so, instead of pretending that they want to unlock them but supposedly can't because of the OEMs - when the OEMs already go out of their way to accommodate Sprint's unusual requests in this arena. My point is that if Sprint really intended to allow some type of domestic unlock, I am sure they OEMs could have figured out a way by now.

 

At the end of the day these shenanigans (e.g. domestic locks) are a double-edged sword. Yes, these kind of restrictions might marginally reduce churn but on the other hand it makes Sprint a less attractive carrier for someone to sign up with in the first place (since all the other carriers will fully domestic unlock their devices under the appropriate circumstances except for Sprint which won't under any circumstances).

 

As far as I see it, the proof for Sprint's actions are in the pudding - they are still losing subscribers by the droves and are about to lose the 3rd place spot. It's time for the company to reconsider all aspects of how it does business.

 

Don't get me wrong, I want this company to succeed and do well but so far their actions haven't been able to gain them the escape velocity they need to take off from the position they're in.

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So will the iPhone 6 support Sprint's LTE on 800 MHz or no? Wish it would cuz that's very important for in-building situations..

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So will the iPhone 6 support Sprint's LTE on 800 MHz or no? Wish it would cuz that's very important for in-building situations..

Yes, of course. In fact, the iPhone 5S already does.

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So will the iPhone 6 support Sprint's LTE on 800 MHz or no? Wish it would cuz that's very important for in-building situations..

 

The article states B26 (800 MHz) LTE support so yes of course it will have LTE 800 support.

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I have the iPhone 5 and my cell service and data is horrible where I live in the Chicago Burbs.  Would upgrading to the 6/6Plus be a great improvement?  I'm thinking it should but my house is in the middle of 2 towers and seems to be in a dead spot.  I do get 1-2 bars, but my phone cycles through 1x, 3G, LTE continuously and it just kills my battery.  I've gone though dan@sprint.com and it was escalated up the chains of command but they said they did drive-bys and the area is getting great reception/data.

 

Thanks,

Tony

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I have the iPhone 5 and my cell service and data is horrible where I live in the Chicago Burbs.  Would upgrading to the 6/6Plus be a great improvement?  I'm thinking it should but my house is in the middle of 2 towers and seems to be in a dead spot.  I do get 1-2 bars, but my phone cycles through 1x, 3G, LTE continuously and it just kills my battery.  I've gone though dan@sprint.com and it was escalated up the chains of command but they said they did drive-bys and the area is getting great reception/data.

 

Thanks,

Tony

 

Upgrading to either of the new iPhone 6's will increase your coverage significantly over the iPhone 5 in Chicago.  It will add Band 26, which will increase coverage exponentially.  It will also add Band 41, which will increase speeds and in some places coverage where Sprint has a Clearwire (Band 41) site only.

 

It may or may not help specifically at your house.  We cannot say specifically, not knowing where you live and how the nearest sites are configured.  However, the chances are extremely good that it would.  And even if it did not help in your home, it would be a night and day difference everywhere you go with a Triband iPhone.

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Upgrading to either of the new iPhone 6's will increase your coverage significantly over the iPhone 5 in Chicago.  It will add Band 26, which will increase coverage exponentially.  It will also add Band 41, which will increase speeds and in some places coverage where Sprint has a Clearwire (Band 41) site only.

 

It may or may not help specifically at your house.  We cannot say specifically, not knowing where you live and how the nearest sites are configured.  However, the chances are extremely good that it would.  And even if it did not help in your home, it would be a night and day difference everywhere you go with a Triband iPhone.

 

I believe the iPhone 5 has CDMA BC10, so, if the user can make and receive voice calls today without a problem but has problems with data reception then that is a very good sign that yes, upgrading to the iPhone 5c/5s or 6/6p should, as you said, significantly increase their data reception and battery life.

 

However, if the user has problems making voice calls in their location then upgrading to a newer iPhone probably won't make that much of a difference as far as data and battery life is concerned.

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I believe the iPhone 5 has CDMA BC10, so, if the user can make and receive voice calls today without a problem but has problems with data reception then that is a very good sign that yes, upgrading to the iPhone 5c/5s or 6/6p should, as you said, significantly increase their data reception and battery life.

 

However, if the user has problems making voice calls in their location then upgrading to a newer iPhone probably won't make that much of a difference as far as data and battery life is concerned.

 

It will battery life, as the device camps on LTE.  So being able to park on Band 26 or a nearby Band 41 site could have significant difference on standby battery consumption.  It all depends on where the user spends most of his time in standby.

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So I ended up purchasing the iPhone 6 Plus, and have to say that speeds for data are much better.  The phone shows LTE rather than 3G/1x and speeds have gone from .10 to.30 DL speeds to .98 to 2.27 in my area so at least internet is usable when I'm outside my home. Inside my house I've had Ping:152, and 4.60 DL/1.77UL speeds. Pretty darn good, I'm not looking for 20-30 DL speeds just usable data, with the phone not timing out all the time.

 

Thanks for your input,

 

Tony

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So I ended up purchasing the iPhone 6 Plus, and have to say that speeds for data are much better.  The phone shows LTE rather than 3G/1x and speeds have gone from .10 to.30 DL speeds to .98 to 2.27 in my area so at least internet is usable when I'm outside my home. Inside my house I've had Ping:152, and 4.60 DL/1.77UL speeds. Pretty darn good, I'm not looking for 20-30 DL speeds just usable data, with the phone not timing out all the time.

 

Thanks for your input,

 

Tony

 

Thanks for the update.

 

Your experience shows just how critical it is that Sprint deploys LTE B26 as quickly as possible. In my opinion, speeding this up is the most important thing Sprint can do right now to improve their chances of success in the wireless market.

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