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Using a cheap SDR for scanning for LTE.


dbsynergy
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Would it be possible to use a cheap SDR like the RTL-SDR's to scan for LTE?

 

I have a couple of these guys I've used for scanning narrow band transmissions on many frequencies:

http://www.amazon.com/RTL-SDR-RTL2832U-Popular-Software-Packages/dp/B00C37AZXK

 

The limitations that come to mind is I think the widest channel bandwidth is only 2.8MHz, and the max frequency you can tune to is 1700MHz.

 

I'm wondering if it would be useful for discovering LTE Band 26 deployments.

 

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No.  Assuming whatever SDR supported the correct frequencies, you would need to still analyze the signal in order to determine what it is.  Maybe you could make a guess by checking out subcarrier spacing, but it wouldn't be exact and it wouldn't determine the carrier (provider).  Far too many opportunities for false positives if you ask me...

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  • 4 months later...

Would it be possible to use a cheap SDR like the RTL-SDR's to scan for LTE?

 

I have a couple of these guys I've used for scanning narrow band transmissions on many frequencies:

http://www.amazon.com/RTL-SDR-RTL2832U-Popular-Software-Packages/dp/B00C37AZXK

 

The limitations that come to mind is I think the widest channel bandwidth is only 2.8MHz, and the max frequency you can tune to is 1700MHz.

 

I'm wondering if it would be useful for discovering LTE Band 26 deployments.

 

Or just go this route like a few of us did...

 

http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/4455-shopping-for-an-spectrum-analyzer-rf-explorer/

 

I use it from time to time to check to see if the 1x800 rollout or 800LTE has started here.  Also great for finding 1900 LTE sites in test mode.  You can hook it up to a computer as well for a better look at things

 

NL03ME017_BTR_2.jpg

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Or just go this route like a few of us did...

 

http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/4455-shopping-for-an-spectrum-analyzer-rf-explorer/

 

I use it from time to time to check to see if the 1x800 rollout or 800LTE has started here.  Also great for finding 1900 LTE sites in test mode.  You can hook it up to a computer as well for a better look at things

 

 

 

That seems like a good option. The cheapo RTL-SDR's are not very useful for decoding broadband signals. I've actually been considering a high end SDR like the USRP B200: https://www.ettus.com/product/details/UB200-KIT

 

It's quite expensive but it has all the features I want. Broadband RF support, 70MHz to 6GHz, sampling up to 56MHz wide channels, and you can actually transmit with it. I went to a conference where they gave a presentation on the interesting things you can do with these:

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  • 1 month later...

I wrote instructions on how to start with nothing and end up with a fully function SDR based LTE scanner at my blog here: http://www.shawngarringer.org/2014/01/14/set-up-your-own-kali-linux-usb-dongle-with-support-for-lte-cel-scanner/

 

Total cost about $50, $30 for the RTL-SDR and about $20 for the USB thumb drive for persistence.  Steps you through configuring the USB drive, installing Kali, building the LTE-Scanner toolchain, and scanning frequencies. I use this all the time to map new LTE sites coming online for carriers in my area.

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Ever wonder what LTE looks like in a waterfall?

 

 

I actually just recorded that with my new USRP. This thing is sweet!

 

What you see in that video is my phone getting taken out of airplane mode, authenticating with the network, and logging into tapatalk.

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