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Wahoo! US Cellullar (and other) EV-DO Roaming Is Live


Mr.Nuke

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Several S4GRU members noticed an update to the coverage map tool yesterday on Sprint’s website. One prominent difference was a significant increase in off-network "3G" EV-DO roaming, particularly in the Midwest. This new coverage happened to coincide with US Cellular’s native footprint. Yes, rumors have persisted over the better course of a year now about upcoming LTE roaming on US Cellular. That has not happened yet, but it may be progressing in that direction.

 

As of today, we can definitively confirm Sprint’s newly released PRLs (25026/55026) on most devices now allow EV-DO roaming on the US Cellular network. It is important to note this coverage is flagged as roaming, not pseudo native, and thus is subject to each user's monthly roaming data limits. Nevertheless, this PRL change marks a significant service improvement over the prior 1x roaming for Sprint customers in many US Cellular areas.

For documentation, below is a SignalCheck Pro screenshot confirming a connection to the US Cellular network from my Sprint Nexus 5 this morning in Wahoo, NE, as well as an EV-DO engineering screenshot confirming a carrier channel of 199, which is consistent with US Cellular’s Cellular A block spectrum in rural eastern Nebraska.
 

wahootrip_zpspz0u0mgv.jpg

 

For a broader national perspective, where no Sprint native signal is available, US Cellular EV-DO roaming now should be the next highest PRL priority in the darker shaded areas of this map.

usccov_zps6dlhb5u9.jpg

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  • USCC -- Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest
  • C Spire -- Mississippi, Alabama, Florida
  • nTelos Wireless -- Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio
  • Nex-Tech Wireless -- Kansas, Colorado
  • United Wireless -- Kansas
  • Pioneer Cellular -- Oklahoma, Kansas
  • PTCI -- Oklahoma
  • Cellcom -- Wisconsin
  • Appalachian Wireless -- Kentucky, Virginia
  • Nemont Wireless -- Montana
  • James Valley Telecom -- South Dakota
  • Bluegrass Cellular -- Kentucky
  • Strata Networks -- Utah, Wyoming, Colorado
  • Farmers Mutual Telephone -- Idaho, Oregon
  • Snake River PCS -- Idaho

AJ

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Sweet! I just went through Nebraska on a road trip and was dragging on 1x roaming. Interested to test it out on the way back!

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Yes!  I just hope it eventually becomes pseudo native coverage :)

 

Maybe, but do not count on that.  Pseudo native coverage often enables improper use -- informally called "perma roaming."  That may not be such a big issue with EV-DO now that it has been deprecated in favor of LTE.  However, it will be an issue with LTE.

 

AJ

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Just to add for western MD...which is a black hole for all 4 national carriers. Still showing as off-network roaming.

You have to switch to the "3G & more" map to see where EVDO roaming has been added.  EVDO is shaded in a bright pink on the 3G maps.

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You have to switch to the "3G & more" map to see where EVDO roaming has been added.  EVDO is shaded in a bright pink on the 3G maps.

Ah! Good catch! It is showing up! This is HUGE! Western MD has great USCC coverage, my family out there uses them. Now I'll be able to load google maps and such. Even Verizon's coverage blows in Kitzmiller, MD ????????

image.jpg

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Maybe, but do not count on that. Pseudo native coverage often enables improper use -- informally called "perma roaming." That may not be such a big issue with EV-DO now that it has been deprecated in favor of LTE. However, it will be an issue with LTE.

 

AJ

And adding on to that, US Cellular has little commercial incentive to offer pseudo native roaming. Since Sprint and USCC overlap a lot, allowing unlimited roaming would open up the risk of losing a lot of customers to Sprint. Sprint is a true national carrier and is often cheaper.
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And adding on to that, US Cellular has little commercial incentive to offer pseudo native roaming. Since Sprint and USCC overlap a lot, allowing unlimited roaming would open up the risk of losing a lot of customers to Sprint. Sprint is a true national carrier and is often cheaper.

 

Yes, that is the "improper use" I allude to in my previous post.

 

AJ

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One interesting note about any possible deal made for LTE roaming with USCC is that King Street Wireless actually owns the 700 spectrum USCC uses for LTE. Would this affect any possible roaming deal?

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And adding on to that, US Cellular has little commercial incentive to offer pseudo native roaming. Since Sprint and USCC overlap a lot, allowing unlimited roaming would open up the risk of losing a lot of customers to Sprint. Sprint is a true national carrier and is often cheaper.

I think there is commercial incentive for USCC. USCC has been losing customers to Verizon and AT&T for some time now because people want that nationwide LTE coverage. If USCC and Sprint teamed up to provide pseudo native LTE to each other, USCC customers would have no reason to switch to Verizon. They would be roaming on Sprint LTE when they go to visit their relatives in the big cities. They would have to create a contractual agreement between each other that prevents subscriber swapping but that could easily be done.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

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One interesting note about any possible deal made for LTE roaming with USCC is that King Street Wireless actually owns the 700 spectrum USCC uses for LTE. Would this affect any possible roaming deal?

 

Actually, because it wanted to offer the iPhone, USCC distanced itself from band 12.  USCC has overlaid some iteration of bands 2/4/5 across most of its LTE markets.

 

AJ

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Actually, because it wanted to offer the iPhone, USCC distanced itself from band 12. USCC has overlaid some iteration of bands 2/4/5 across most of its LTE markets.

 

AJ

Entirely overlaid it's network with band 5 actually just explicitly for Apple.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5

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I think there is commercial incentive for USCC. USCC has been losing customers to Verizon and AT&T for some time now because people want that nationwide LTE coverage. If USCC and Sprint teamed up to provide pseudo native LTE to each other, USCC customers would have no reason to switch to Verizon. They would be roaming on Sprint LTE when they go to visit their relatives in the big cities. They would have to create a contractual agreement between each other that prevents subscriber swapping but that could easily be done.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

 

 

The Carlson's aren't that stupid. Why would they undermine their own business like that? I don't see the incentive from a leverage point of view. If Sprint or T-Mobile would be interested in buying them out, I think they'd listen at this point, but their motivation has always seemed to be control over their own network experience. US Cellular still has higher ARPU than anyone else at this point, so their model still works. 

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The Carlson's aren't that stupid. Why would they undermine their own business like that? I don't see the incentive from a leverage point of view. If Sprint or T-Mobile would be interested in buying them out, I think they'd listen at this point, but their motivation has always seemed to be control over their own network experience. US Cellular still has higher ARPU than anyone else at this point, so their model still works.

You're not looking at the big picture and maybe the Carlson's aren't either.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

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You're not looking at the big picture and maybe the Carlson's aren't either.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

 

If they're looking for a sale, why sign a pseudo native roaming deal that undermines a potential deal?  Such a pseudo native deal would greatly reduce leverage if the Carlson's chose to enter into negotiations with SoftBank. It would also dissuade other potential buyers. Not how one would want to preserve asset value as well as control over their own network experience. They aren't in the same position as other carriers that have to sign Sprint Native Roaming deals under Network Vision specifications to survive. 

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You're not looking at the big picture and maybe the Carlson's aren't either.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

USCC doesn't see themselves as a national carrier. They see themselves as regional carrier, albeit a large one. If a customer spends enough time outside their footprint that it's a problem, they have no problems telling you to find another carrier. I'm not sure where you think they're bleeding customers. They only had a churn of 1.5% and made a 161 million profit last quarter. They don't seem to be hurting.
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USCC doesn't see themselves as a national carrier. They see themselves as regional carrier, albeit a large one. If a customer spends enough time outside their footprint that it's a problem, they have no problems telling you to find another carrier. I'm not sure where you think they're bleeding customers. They only had a churn of 1.5% and made a 161 million profit last quarter. They don't seem to be hurting.

I see Verizon continuing to expand into USCC territory as they have been doing for years. I see it all over central and southern Oregon. As this continues, Verizon is going to be the new carrier in these small towns and USCC customers are likely to join Verizon for better service in the cities. The only way that USCC will be able to compete is to team up with a Sprint or a T-Mobile who has the LTE in the cities all over the country.

 

Sent from my LGLS991 using Tapatalk

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I see Verizon continuing to expand into USCC territory as they have been doing for years. I see it all over central and southern Oregon. As this continues, Verizon is going to be the new carrier in these small towns and USCC customers are likely to join Verizon for better service in the cities. The only way that USCC will be able to compete is to team up with a Sprint or a T-Mobile who has the LTE in the cities all over the country.

 

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I think they're saying that USCC might be angling toward eventually being bought out, but they would have no leverage in any related negotiation if they allow potential suitors full roaming access on a pseudo-native basis.
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