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Heading to Belgium


iansltx
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As of 7:15a local time on Thursday, I'll be in Belgium for a few days. I'll be grabbing high-speed data passes while there, so I should be able to report authoritatively on connectivity. Looks like the roaming partners are Proximus (the primarily state-owned telecom, #1 by subscriber count) for LTE, with #3 BASE as a fallback (which appears not to have LTE roaming?!?). From my last jaunt, I know my Essential phone will pick up B3 and B20, which Proximus uses, so I'm betting service will be every bit as good as I get at home (albeit with roaming latency and ridiculous per-minute charges).

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The LTE availability for international roaming on Sprint's website isn't accurate. It's only accurate in that it lists the roaming partners. In my experience, if the carrier has LTE, then you'll be able to use it assuming your phone supports the bands.

You can actually force your phone to roam on whichever provider you want (if it's a roaming partner). Usually I find that one carrier has better coverage, but more subscribers so the speeds are slower. And another carrier(s) has worse coverage, but faster speeds. So I'll switch between them as appropriate.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

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14 hours ago, ingenium said:

The LTE availability for international roaming on Sprint's website isn't accurate. It's only accurate in that it lists the roaming partners. In my experience, if the carrier has LTE, then you'll be able to use it assuming your phone supports the bands.

You can actually force your phone to roam on whichever provider you want (if it's a roaming partner). Usually I find that one carrier has better coverage, but more subscribers so the speeds are slower. And another carrier(s) has worse coverage, but faster speeds. So I'll switch between them as appropriate.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
 

How do you choose the carrier you want to connect to?

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How do you choose the carrier you want to connect to?

Do you have Android? On my Pixel, I go to Settings, Network & Internet, Mobile Network, Advanced, and untoggle Automatically Select Network. It will then do a scan and bring up all the networks it finds. You'll only be able to authenticate on one that Sprint has a roaming agreement with.  

 

 

It will often give an error at first saying that it can't associate, but it actually does. Not sure why. It starts with GSM, then EDGE, then maybe 15-30 seconds later it goes to HSPA, and finally 15-30 seconds later it ends up on LTE. At least that's how it's behaving for me now in Costa Rica (where Sprint has roaming agreements with all 3 carriers).

 

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, ingenium said:

Do you have Android? On my Pixel, I go to Settings, Network & Internet, Mobile Network, Advanced, and untoggle Automatically Select Network. It will then do a scan and bring up all the networks it finds. You'll only be able to authenticate on one that Sprint has a roaming agreement with.  

It will often give an error at first saying that it can't associate, but it actually does. Not sure why. It starts with GSM, then EDGE, then maybe 15-30 seconds later it goes to HSPA, and finally 15-30 seconds later it ends up on LTE. At least that's how it's behaving for me now in Costa Rica (where Sprint has roaming agreements with all 3 carriers).

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

Is this something that only works outside of the U.S.?

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Is this something that only works outside of the U.S.?
I think so. I haven't tried it in the US. I'm not even sure if the option is shown when you aren't roaming. It's also possible that the option is there, but it won't let you authenticate on a domestic carrier's network if a Sprint signal is detected.

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk

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A day and a half (and my second $5 day pass) into my time here in Belgium and things seem to be working well. Proximus is the carrier I'm roaming on, with no ability to pick anything else from the times I've tried. Latency is as low as 175ms to Chicago, though there's a bunch of jitter. Speed-wise, I've seen as much as 96M down, 26.5M up on Band 3 (1800), though that was right outside the airport.

Coverage is pretty good, though indoors there's a good chance I'm sitting on B20 (Digital Dividend 800), which is pretty crowded on the downlink (I've seen 7M down, 18M up) rather than B3...though that's not a foregone conclusion. SMS works basically the same as native Sprint, though it looks like From phone numbers have country codes appended when they normally wouldn't. Connectivity is good enough that voice calls on Duo work well. Tethering has been an absolute lifesaver as hotel WiFi at a tech conference is always a crapshoot.

EDIT: I saw B7 at the airport but didn't bother grabbing another day pass to speed test. Overall, was super satisfied with roaming performance while in Belgium.

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  • 1 year later...

Got back from Belgium a little over a week ago...same areas as last time, but my data passes overlapped with time I spent at the airport so I was able to test B7 a bit more. Proximus again as the provider. Top speed was 141/21.5 at the airport, with 165ms to Omaha. 50-65 Mbps down, 4-18 Mbps up, with as little as 115ms latency on B3/B20, with B20 seeming to be a bit stronger this time around than last time. Exact same phone, albeit with a newer Android release, so pretty much an apples-to-apples comparison.

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