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How do you tell if a tower goes live 4G?


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Yes. You look for the big neon sign that says "LTE is here!"

 

More seriously, you could manually reset the radio on your phone while near the tower and then check signal level using LTE RF engineering screen or the status screen on your phone (if it shows LTE signal level there, not all do) while under or very close to the tower in question. Resetting the phone is done by cycling it on and off of Airplane mode, or on some models, turning cellular data on and off is sufficient to trigger a re-scan. Be sure you leave it in airplane mode for at least 10 seconds or so and see the signal bars and data indicator disappear before you turn airplane mode back off.

 

The phone only checks for LTE signal otherwise every 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the model. The more recently it detected LTE signal, the more often it will scan for it. For example, my GS3 I have observed to go on and off of LTE a number of times in only about 10 minutes when I am in an area with a lot of buildings and hills that might block signal. On the other hand, if I have been away from LTE for a substantial amount of time few hours), it might be 10 or 15 minutes after I am back in the area before it looks for and connects to it.

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If you can drive by it and you get 4g :D

 

not always the case. in san diego many sites are within 1 mile apart and you can be getting LTE signal from a farther tower.

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not always the case. in san diego many sites are within 1 mile apart and you can be getting LTE signal from a farther tower.

 

You can tell approximately by signal strength though. If you're at -66dBm or so, generally you are within 500' of the tower. Also, in cases like San Diego, antennas tend to have more down-angle to deliberately limit range, thus decreasing interference resulting from overlap with neighboring cells (which could reduce capacity if not mitigated). This additional downward focus also serves to increase signal strength within the area served by the tower, improving in-building performance.

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You can tell approximately by signal strength though. If you're at -66dBm or so, generally you are within 500' of the tower. Also, in cases like San Diego, antennas tend to have more down-angle to deliberately limit range, thus decreasing interference resulting from overlap with neighboring cells (which could reduce capacity if not mitigated). This additional downward focus also serves to increase signal strength within the area served by the tower, improving in-building performance.

That to, I have the GS3 and I have checked the debug screen, I found a tower that wasn't on the map and they turned on 4G and Robert didn't know :D. Thanks to the debug screen
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what does it mean when they turn the tower on and off go from full serive to roaming!

 

Yes, if they turn the tower off, and there is no other tower in close proximity, you will go into roaming.

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