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Network Vision/LTE - Boston Market (all of Massachusetts)


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Interestingly Sprint is using the 5x5 G-block as the PCC and 10x10 B-block as the SCC for carrier aggregation here in Boston (Chestnut Hill). I can't complain though because the download speeds are insane. I never thought I'd see the day I'd get speeds like these on Band 25.

Edit: I should add that this was taken indoors.


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4 hours ago, Paynefanbro said:

Interestingly Sprint is using the 5x5 G-block as the PCC and 10x10 B-block as the SCC for carrier aggregation here in Boston (Chestnut Hill). I can't complain though because the download speeds are insane. I never thought I'd see the day I'd get speeds like these on Band 25.

Edit: I should add that this was taken indoors.


I've noticed in NYC and Long island that the PCC and SCC switch off between the B25 carriers. 

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2 hours ago, nexgencpu said:

They do swap, im assuming it favors the carrier with better RSRP and SNR for PCC.

The network's load balancing tries to push users around proportionately.

If everyone used the 10x10 carrier as the PCC, the G block uplink would never get used. Ideally there should be two users on the 10x10 carrier for every one user on the 5x5 carrier. And CA should be active at all times, of course. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Not sure where that COW was, but I was at the starting line in Hopkinton yesterday morning and my Sprint service was fine. Verizon user with me struggled with his iPhone all morning. Not sure if it was a capacity issue or a coverage issue; neither of us had great reception at our particular spot.


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I went to MIT to watch the fireworks and while there were a number of COWs there, I don't think any of them belonged to Sprint. Band 41 was heavily loaded but still fared well. I was getting 7Mbps and 1 up with it but on any other band, data was pretty much nonexistent. I had cycle airplane mode a lot to get pushed back onto Band 41 because the network kept trying to kick me off.

A few block away from the waterfront, my phone stayed on Band 41 with speeds reaching nearly 200Mbps. It's crazy what a crowd can do.

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 3/28/2019 at 10:54 AM, RedSpark said:

Mark posted this almost a month ago:

Great progress.

The map above is consistent with why the signal availability is generally available in the city, but venture out in the southern burbs, or the cape and it falls to 3g or even 1x at places.

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The map above is consistent with why the signal availability is generally available in the city, but venture out in the southern burbs, or the cape and it falls to 3g or even 1x at places.


It may drop to 3G in some areas, but I wouldn't say that's the norm. I live northwest of Boston and have been a Sprint customer for 16+ years, and the network has become quite reliable in the suburbs and even some areas beyond. It's rare that I am in range of 3G but not LTE.




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I haven't been back to Boston since February 2020 but I have been looking at cellmapper.net and one of the things I've noticed about the T-Mobile network when compared to the Sprint network is that T-Mobile has a ton of oDAS sites not only in Boston and Brookline but also in places like Newton. Their macro footprint doesn't seem significantly more dense than Sprint's but their use of oDAS to bolster outdoor coverage in areas that are lower density is something I wish Sprint would've done more in Boston.

I don't know if T-Mobile inherited it from MetroPCS or if they built it themselves but I hope that they get upgraded eventually to support n41 instead of just Band 4/66.

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I was looking over the Newton, MA permits and I wish every city forced carriers to divulge as much information as they do there. Every permit shows the building the site is on, which antennas belong to which carrier, what antennas currently exist (including the antenna model number, RRU/RRH  model number, and what technology and bands it supports), what antennas are being moved or replaced and all new antennas and RRH's being added.

  1. AT&T's priority seems to be putting every LTE band available on every site. They're also adding Band/n5 to every site for 5G. Sadly there is no mention of C-band antennas at all.
    1. Post upgrade, nearly every AT&T site in Newton will have Band 2/5/12/14/17/29/30/66 and n5.
  2. T-Mobile seems to be following AT&T in putting every band on every site. Stealth sites are getting Band/n71 added to them at the very least and full builds are getting Band/n41 on top of that. There was only one exception where a permit for a full build didn't have a Band/n41 antenna which was a bit confusing. T-Mobile's permits also mention fiber upgrades for every single site which is really good to see.
    1. Post upgrade, stealth sites will have Band 2/12/66/71 and full builds will have Band 2/12/66/71 and n41/71
  3. Verizon doesn't have any permits for any stealth sites however on virtually all of their full build permits, they are adding C-band and in some cases they’re adding CBRS. Weirdly they aren't adding any Band/n5 to sites that lack it which indicates to me that Verizon is treating n2/66 as their primary nationwide 5G band here.
    1. Post upgrade, most Verizon sites will be Band 2/13/48/66 and n2/66/77

Side-note: I found out that AT&T has an oDAS system at Boston College. They've been stealthily adding antennas to different buildings on campus. I also found out that on the second floor of O'Neill library there is an oDAS mobile switch center for AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. T-Mobile was the last to have their equipment added but neither Verizon nor T-Mobile have actually built out any oDAS sites on campus as far as I know.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Just found a T-Mobile permit in Newton to decommission a Sprint site. It's a stealth site that is collocated with T-Mobile. 

Looks like it's a tri-band site at 2 Windsor St. Pretty interesting that they're saying it's unused cellular equipment.


Edit: Found another Newton permit that mentions L25/N25 along with B41/N41 in the structural plans so it seems like T-Mobile plans on using PCS for 5G pretty soon. My guess it that it'll happenwhen 5G inter-band carrier aggregation launches since they likely will only have 5-10MHz for n25 or n66 at launch (provided they choose not to do DSS) and they'll want to aggregate as much spectrum as possible for 5G without impacting LTE performance. 

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Went back Boston for the first time since February 2020 and got to experience T-Mobile and Verizon's network throughout quite a bit of the metro area.


T-Mobile has contiguous 5G coverage throughout most of the Boston region which was a surprise to me given that so few sites have been confirmed with Band/n71 or Ban/n41 on Cellmapper. My guess is that this is due to a combination of factors. The two most obvious are that:

  1. There are a lot of sites that have been upgraded with Band 41 or Band 71 that no one has mapped in Cellmapper yet.
  2. T-Mobile is achieving contiguous coverage in many areas through the use of SA 5G.

In terms of speeds, I averaged about 20-50Mbps between LTE and 5G. 5G was only slightly faster than LTE in most areas. The network is not slow by any means but it pales in comparison to what I receive in NYC, a city that has n41 deployed on what seems like >75% of the sites. Speaking of n41, T-Mobile's coverage map is a complete lie in that regard. They claim that most of the city of Boston is covered in Ultra Capacity 5G however that is false. I encountered it only a handful of times while I was there. Most notably, at a few sites  in Mattapan, Chinatown, and the Seaport District. Speeds while connected were fast as usual but it was disappointing to see that it wasn't as widely deployed as in some other cities.

I also noticed a large amount of small cells throughout the metro area. In Newton, T-Mobile uses oDAS nodes to fill in coverage in areas where macros struggle to reach and I even found some newer Ericsson branded small cells in Revere that have been deployed sometime within the last few months. They were LTE only but provided speeds of 130Mbps+.

Overall, T-Mobile isn't exceptional in Boston. Instead they" just work". This isn't a bad thing at all, but I'm hoping that soon they can upgrade more of their sites to include both Band/n71 and Band/n41 so that they can get much more capacity online. In areas where n41 exists LTE and 5G perform phenomenally.



Verizon on the other hand had a very strong LTE network in Boston. Everywhere I went I had strong signal and great speeds. Their network in Boston performs much better than it does in NYC. In many areas I was seeing 100Mbps+ on LTE.

My only complaint about Verizon was that their 5G coverage isn't nearly as good as they claim it is. My Verizon line dropped out of 5G coverage frequently and while connected, speeds were often slower than on LTE in the same area. Luckily their LTE network more than makes up for their lacking 5G performance and coverage.

I also got to experience Ultra Wideband 5G there. The coverage map was fairly accurate when it comes to showing where you can find mmWave 5G. I was seeing peak speeds of 2Gbps down and 190Mbps up. However mmWave's range is still not impressive even after 2+ years of deployments and optimizations. The second I broke line of site by turning a corner or going into a restaurant, mmWave would disappear. It was funny being on LTE inside a clothing store on Mass Ave and then the second I step outside within line of sight of the node, my phone shows the little 5GUW icon and I'm getting gigabit speeds.



All in all, I actually don't think T-Mobile's slow n41 deployment is their own doing. It has a lot to do with Boston's site permitting laws and the fact that the carriers are virtually forced to conceal or sheath many of their sites to preserve the character of buildings. Because of this, T-Mobile has to redesign a ton of their sites to accommodate the larger antennas necessary to deploy n71 and n41. Verizon and AT&T are probably going to run into the same issue when it comes to deploying C-band. In the meantime, I think that T-Mobile should follow Verizon's lead and take advantage of Boston's more relaxed small cell regulations and deploy LTE and 5G small cells as widely as possible to free up capacity on their macro network since Band 2/12/66 alone is not enough for T-Mobile at this current moment.

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