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  1. 53 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 2:45 PM MST Sprint is embarking on a significant expansion of its network. The first major addition of compatible sites to its network in a decade. Past expansion has been limited to buyouts of Nextel and Clearwire, both of which included networks of different technologies. Organic growth has not been on the table for Sprint in some time. Sprint is expected to announce these plans in the not too distant future, once finalization of details and funding is complete. Since the beginning of the year, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has hinted to this network expansion in social media and in pep talks to various Sprint employees. Some of whom have contacted S4GRU after hearing Marcelo’s vague references in meetings about the upcoming expansion. But this is the first time we have received specific information from inside Sprint. The purpose of these 9,000 new sites is to expand coverage into new markets, add critical rural coverage where high roaming occurs, capture lost coverage from the shutdown of the old Nextel iDEN network, extend coverage to new suburban areas, and densify the network within existing coverage. This plan is very targeted by market and includes a significant capital spend investment. The affected areas are seen as critical to Sprint for future growth and reduction of operating expenses in key roaming areas. With the useable area of Sprint’s low frequency spectrum in the SMR 800 band about to expand even to the border areas, thus allowing nationwide coverage, the buildout of new markets and new rural areas has never been more practical or obtainable to Sprint. Allowing for new areas to have a less tight buildout requirement in site density in small towns and along highways and increase signal strength indoors in cities. The new management of Sprint sees this as the point at which they can move forward and accomplish these once seemingly lofty goals. The juicy details S4GRU recently received some details of the project from an internal Sprint source, speaking off the record. The current details of the plan breakdown as follows: 1,100 - Decommissioned iDEN sites converted for new Sprint CDMA/LTE coverage and increased density in some key under served areas (Dualband and Triband) 1,600 – New coverage expansion sites targeting high roaming areas and key identified market expansion areas (Dualband and Triband) 800 – New Dualband sites in exurban and new suburban areas places with new or projected population growth 500 – New Triband sites in Urban and Suburban areas to infill coverage where 1900 and 2600 currently do not reach or reach well and 800 capacity would also be improved 5,000 – New Urban and Suburban TDD-LTE 2600 “Spark” only sites infilling existing coverages for better signal quality, indoor performance, and capacity. It is not known the mix of macro sites and small cell sites. One exciting part of this addition to S4GRU is capturing decommissioned iDEN sites. This is something that we have long advocated. In a takeoff I did of the iDEN sites back in 2012, I estimated that Sprint needed only approximately 1,000 of the iDEN sites to equalize coverage for the CDMA/LTE network and densify some critical areas of some lacking markets. Like Baton Rouge and Grand Rapids. Perhaps decision makers at Sprint read S4GRU after all? I am happy to see my estimate was quite close to theirs. Interestingly, there is no mention of Clearwire only sites that are in good locations for Sprint to expand or densify Network Vision CDMA and LTE. Not to mention also the 700+ Clearwire Protection Sites. Many of which are in places Sprint does not currently offer service. Like my corner of the Dakotas. Project Ocean In addition to this new Expansion Project, Sprint also already has two existing projects under way for targeted regional expansion based on recent acquisition. In Missouri and Central Illinois, Sprint is working on Project Ocean, which involves adding more than 100 former U.S. Cellular sites. Some of these sites are already online with many more coming online within the next 6-8 months. The bulk of these adds are in Suburban St. Louis. However, there are a couple dozen rural USCC sites that are also being captured in the Project Ocean program. Sites where demographics are supportive to expansion or high roaming costs make the additional sites worthwhile. Project Cedar A thousand miles to the northwest, Sprint is embarking on Project Cedar in Montana. A plan to add 230 sites to the Sprint network in the Treasure State. Sprint purchased the defunct network assets from Chinook Wireless back in August of 2014. Chinook Wireless operated their service under the Cellular One name in Montana. Project Cedar takes the Chinook Wireless decommissioned sites and adds Network Vision DualBand and TriBand sites in their place. We assume Project Cedar is being done by Samsung, as past geographic maps from Sprint show this area to be Samsung. There was a Field Implementation Test (FIT) for LTE Band 26 (SMR 800MHz) done by Samsung in Montana back in 2013. We never did find out where in Montana this FIT was conducted, and it may even be live for commercial traffic now. S4GRU members travelling in Montana, be on the look out for B26 LTE signals and new Samsung equipment being installed. In my cursory review, it appears that the footprint offered by Chinook would have been served by 120-140 sites at best using PCS 1900 spacing. Since Sprint is looking to do 90-110 more than that, it’s possible Sprint could be extending service well into the Dakotas and Wyoming under this project. Beyond the reach of the old Cellular One coverage area. I could see them covering all the Chinook coverage plus I-25, I-90, I-94 in Wyoming and the Dakotas as well as Casper, Gillette, Rapid City, Pierre, Williston and Bismarck with 230 sites. Heck, convert Swiftel’s 50 sites in Eastern South Dakota while you’re at it! Swiftel is a sore subject with us, and we will save that for another day. Funding and implementation According to the source, Project Ocean and Project Cedar are already funded. The additional 8,000 site expansion with unknown project name has funding earmarked for its planning and initial start. However funding sources and final scope are being worked out. It is likely Sprint will make no comment on the matter until these last two items are resolved probably next quarter. However, Sprint is already moving on initial planning and key sites as they come available. No good opportunity will be lost during the planning process. And maybe there are some more regional plans in play?
  2. 30 points
    Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates May 19, 2017 - 8:30 AM PDT The Sprint Magic Box was announced on Sprint's quarterly earning call earlier this month, and was heralded as the first truly all wireless small cell in the industry. So what is this mystical beast that is purported to increase coverage by up to 30,000 square feet, amplifies data speeds, and "boosts" your data signal? This is the 1st Generation Sprint Magic Box In more technical terms, the Magic Box is an Airspan product under their Airunity line. The black colored model that exists in the wild, and which I procured contains the Airspan Airunity 540 small cell eNB. Whereas the white colored Magic Box advertised by Sprint is a newer model that contains the Airspan Airunity 545 small cell eNB. The primarily difference is that the unreleased white Magic Box is able to broadcast at twice the transmit power compared to the black model which results in substantially increased coverage area in addition to the LTE UE Relay Module having HPUE capability. These are all wireless small cells as there is no requirement of a wired backhaul solution like traditional Femto cells like the pending Sprint Airave 3 LTE, Commscope S1000, or the T-mobile LTE Cellspot. Instead, the Magic Box (MB) utilizes a technology called LTE UE Relay that is integrated into the overall package. The Magic Box contains an Airunity LTE B41 2500 MHz small cell and a LTE UE Relay device called the ninja module whose only job is to establish a data link to a macro eNB LTE 1900 or 2500 MHz signal and then feed a data connection to the Airunity small cell. For more on LTE UE Relay: see here Once the Relay link is connected and data flows to the Airunity eNB, a new LTE 2500 MHz signal is then created and broadcasted from the unit. This signal is unique to the Magic Box and is available to use by any compatible Sprint device that can access the LTE Plus (2500 MHz LTE B41) network. Unlike a repeater setup, the Magic Box does not simply take an existing signal and amplify it and all the accompanying noise and interference. This is a brand new and very clean LTE signal being broadcasted. The following screenshot from Network Signal Guru app displays this clearly. The Magic Box in my location broadcasts a brand new LTE carrier with frequency located on EARFCN 40270 (2558 MHz) while the macro donor eNB signal of 40978 (2628 MHz) is used as backhaul (LTE Band 25 1900 MHz can also be used). [As of July 2017, the Magic Box had its LTE carrier center frequency switched to 2518.4 MHz or EARFCN 39874. Signal Check Pro screenshot] This means, instead of a weak edge of cell LTE signal with the accompanying band switching that substantially impact device stand by times and I may lose deep inside the building, a Magic Box allows a Sprint device to connect to a strong and clean LTE 2500 MHz signal which blankets the formerly weak LTE coverage area. As a side effect, LTE speeds may also be dramatically increased due to the better signal level and quality being broadcasted by the MB whose LTE Relay Module can connect to what may have been previously an unusable 2500 MHz network. Especially when placed by a window as recommended. Album of Screenshots Personal Experience In my more than one month of observations using the Magic Box, I was able to connect to a LTE 2500 MHz signal from inside a suburban family residential building where such a signal was previously unusable. Furthermore, not only did the Magic Box boost the data signal from weak edge of cell service with consistent frequency swapping that had previously killed our devices battery life, but it also increased the LTE data speeds substantially to the tune of 200-300% over what we were previously getting over LTE 800 and 1900 MHz. Whereas previously the house was a weak coverage area where LTE 800 MHz was predominant with even parts dropping to EVDO 3G, the new LTE signal broadcasted by the MB covers the entire house and then some through multiple interior walls and even an exterior brick wall before handing over back to the macro network. So what's my view on the Magic Box? It can't come soon™ enough for more people to use and enjoy.
  3. 28 points
    by Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, January 25, 2016 - 8:30 AM MST For the past year, Sprint has commented a lot about its coming "Next Generation Network" deployment that aims to improve greatly Sprint's network capacity and coverage. Much of that speculation has been over how Sprint intends to feed backhaul to the "tens of thousands" of small cells it plans to deploy -- given Sprint's past history on getting backhaul delivered to its own macro cell sites as part of Network Vision. Last summer, Sprint began talking up its "treasure trove" of 2.5 GHz spectrum as wireless backhaul for its small cells. Many speculated on exactly how this would be done -- with some online netizens theorizing Sprint actually would use part of its 2.5 GHz spectrum in a setup like microwave backhaul. So, how exactly is Sprint going to use its 2.5 GHz spectrum as backhaul? The answer is a simple yet not often spoken about LTE Advanced technology: LTE UE Relay Over the past half a year, S4GRU staff repeatedly were told by Sprint employees that 2.5 GHz was going to be used as wireless backhaul. But there was not a lot of explanation on the technical side on how Sprint would accomplish that. That is until we discovered exactly what it was on a document sent to us almost a year ago that described several then ongoing projects being tested internally by Sprint. LTE UE Relay is a fairly recent technology introduced in 3GPP Release 10. Courtesy of a Nokia Siemens Networks white paper on the topic of LTE Relay, the following is a well made depiction of a network utilizing relay nodes in action. So, how does LTE UE Relay work? A way to think of a Relay Node or LTE UE Relay (i.e. a small cell using 2.5 GHz as backhaul) is as a cell repeater. Yet, there is a significant difference in how a relay node and a repeater operate. Whereas a repeater increases coverage simply by amplifying a specific frequency range -- including all accompanying noise and interference -- a relay node demodulates and remodulates the signal, then transmits its own signal. To put it in simple terms, one can think of a relay node being something akin to a Wi-Fi hotspot utilizing the LTE network for its data connection-- except in this case, the relay node is not transmitting a Wi-Fi signal but an LTE signal. Thus, wherever there is even a speck of Band 41 coverage available, Sprint can plop down a relay node and use the existing LTE signal as backhaul for a small cell unit to increase local area coverage and capacity. This is because the small cell unit transmits a crisp, clean, new LTE signal in the area it is designed to cover, and UEs in that area would connect to this stronger signal. As per the above image, an LTE Relay setup is quick to deploy and provides both an immediate impact on the local network and increased coverage/capacity for all compatible UEs in its coverage area -- without the need to wait for traditional backhaul, which could takes many weeks or months and be dependent on variables outside of Sprint's control. But what about downsides of using LTE UE Relay as a backhaul setup? For one, the speed of the LTE signal that is transmitted by the relay nodes is only as fast as that of the donor site -- be it a relay node (relay nodes can be serially chained), a fiber or microwave backhaul fed small cell, or a macro cell. If there is heavy congestion on the donor site sector, then the relay will also be just as "fast" as the connections that other UEs on the donor sector get. So, if the LTE carriers on the donor site is congested and running say 2-3 Mbps, connections to the relay node would go as fast as that. Another potential issue is that a relay node may expand coverage into a hugely populated area with high load demands and by itself congest the LTE carrier that is providing the backhaul connection to the site. Even though the LTE carrier from the donor site could be running well at 20-30 Mbps speeds originally, the extra loading from the relay node could be just enough to congest that entire sector. In such a case, using a relay may be problematic, and it might be better instead to utilize more traditional backhaul like fiber, Ethernet, or microwave. So, what is the point of writing all that? Recently, an attentive S4GRU member discovered a post on LinkedIn, and an attached image caught the attention of S4GRU staff. Image Credit: Omar Masry It is not that it is a small cell setup that caught our eye but that subsequent comments noted there were no fiber connections at all, it utilizes a Nokia Flexi Zone pico cell, and it resides in the Boston, MA region. Among the major operators in the US, there are only two users of Nokia Networks equipment: Sprint and T-Mobile. T-Mobile only recently has commenced talk about deploying small cells of such type. To deploy a small cell without traditional fiber backhaul while utilzing a relay antenna and not even talk about it would be a departure for T-Mobile, which is known for issuing many press releases on new LTE Advanced technologies being implemented on its network. Furthermore, the Northeast is an Ericsson vendor region for T-Mobile. Nokia has no business doing anything there, leaving the other potential user as Sprint. There was some speculation on why Nokia would be deploying their LTE Band 41 small cell equipment in an Alcatel-Lucent vendor region -- considering Alcatel-Lucent and its partner AirSpan have their own Band 41 equipment designs. But Sprint has said that the deployment would be unconventional and utilize non traditional methods of deployment, so this must have been part of that strategy. Nokia Networks also is in the process of acquiring Alcatel-Lucent. That may be a factor but is a topic for another day. [Edit: Nokia has completed their purchase of Alcatel-Lucent so mystery solved.] What was discovered is that Mobilitie has been applying for permits to deploy wooden poles in Salem, MA and presumably other cities as part of the Next Generation Network small cell densification project. The ever watchful eyes of an S4GRU Ohio based sponsor group member base quickly went to work and discovered an application by Mobilitie that gives a full rundown of what exactly the company seeks to install. Note the permit application engineering details and the pictures from the LinkedIn post. See the similarities? In addition to the near exact matching of details from the proposed setup in the filing and the pictures in the LinkedIn post, the application by Mobilitie, which is widely rumored to be Sprint's primary small cell deployment partner, also provided a site cascade ID: BS90XS933. As per S4GRU sponsor maps detailing nearly all of Sprint's macro sites across the nation, here are a few examples of Sprint macro cell cascade IDs in the Boston market: BS03XC063, BS23XC461, BS60XC325. Gee whiz! I wonder for whom Mobilitie could be deploying these wooden poles and smell cell setups. Here is the LinkedIn image labeled according to details found in the application by Mobilitie. As with everything Sprint does, this relay technology is not one magical fix it all for Sprint's network. Sprint has much to do to continue to improve its network and brand image. LTE UE Relay is a very new technology not without its cons. Yet, it is an interesting direction Sprint is going with regards to backhaul to the projected tens of thousands of small cells deployed as part of the Next Generation Network. Of course, what is more important than the theoretical talk is the discovery above of practical setup and engineering documentation. There is solid proof now that Sprint has started at least one portion of the long awaited and much talked about Next Generation Network deployment. So, keep an eye out for such local permit applications by Mobilitie and potentially other unnamed partners, and observe your surrounding environments. One or more such small cell setups just may pop up near you without warning soon... Sources for tech talk: 1, 2, 3
  4. 27 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 1:30 PM MDT Update: at 7:00 p.m. MDT Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure announced the following on Twitter, "We heard you loud and clear and we are removing the 600 kbps on streaming video. #Allin and we won't stop" . We don't do many editorials here at S4GRU. We tend to editorialize in our forums. Where our opinions run rampant. We also don't do articles about plan offerings. We are a network focused site. However, our Staff here at S4GRU feels that one is due concerning Sprint's new All In plans. . We aren't sure where Sprint was going with this. Is it a new plan or is it a Trojan horse meant to protect the network from streaming? The title "ALL IN" and the hashtag #AllIn conjures up the thought of the poker strategy. Where you push all your chips in with your best and final bet. The one you do when you have a winning hand. The bet that ends all other bets. It's everything you can offer up. You have given your all. It's the best you can do and you believe it is unbeatable. Because you are putting it all on the line. But the All In plan doesn't appear to be a winning strategy. We believe it will not succeed for Sprint as they intend. It is not really less expensive or more attractive than existing plans or Tmo's new plans. And has a Draconian hard streaming cap of 600kbps throughput. That streaming cap is going over like a lead filled balloon. Simple is good, you're on the right track . We like the idea of simplicity. No more hidden costs and fees. You just pay one flat rate for phone and unlimited data. OK. The David Beckham video and the attractive Sprint store rep is good. It makes a great point, compared to your competitors. But it's an easy thing for your competitors to replicate. Simple pricing. And they don't have fine print limiting streaming to only 600kbps. That really is the kicker here. So we just aren't seeing the new and innovative thing with All In. You already have plans that price out the same way as All In (some even less expensive). It appears as a marketing gimmick that is disguising a desperate move to limit streaming. This is not popular with your current customers and your new customers are likely going to hate you for it. After they find out. . Marcelo, it's inappropriate that David Beckham touts unlimited movie watching and you reference unlimited watching videos in your Press Release. 600kbps video streaming can hardly run any YouTube or Netflix streaming. It will buffer significantly even with the lowest resolution settings. 600kbps is insufficient for most moderate quality video streaming on a smartphone screen. Unlimited only matters because of streaming Let's face facts here. Unlimited only matters to most customers because of streaming. I'm just pulling a number out of the sky here based on my experiences running a Sprint themed wireless blog, but I would venture a guess that 95% of your customers use just a gig or two of data monthly if you do not include streaming. It's not hard to offer unlimited data excluding streaming. Most customers who see Sprint as a value in wireless is because of unlimited streaming. If customers do not stream, they can live with reasonable data buckets. 1GB, 2GB, 5GB plans will work for almost everyone, excluding streaming. If you remove streaming from unlimited, most people don't care about unlimited when they understand it all. Yes, you will still allow unlimited streaming with All In plans, but at only 600kbps. That is way too low. It is a defacto removal of unlimited streaming. I'm sure it was put in place to reduce the burden on the network significantly. By getting people to stop streaming because of the poor video quality. And reducing the burden on the network for those who continue with poor quality streaming. With all that said, we get it. We get the need to do something about streaming. It is a problem. It is a huge drain on your network. But we need to call it what it is and not hide the problem in a new plan and then tout unlimited streaming to the masses. That part is a huge mistake. The media, bloggers and your customers are all crying foul. Unlimited data abusers are killing the network, we get it. But this is not the solution or the time The problem here is that the All In plan punishes everyone. But we see the issue here as data abusers. Customers who use vastly higher data amounts than everyone else. The five percenters, or even the one percenters. Tmo has decided to deal with these types by creating a monthly soft cap of 21GB on unlimited plans. So for Tmo, they have drawn a line and said that customers who exceed 21GB are the ones causing the most problems on their network. Most customers do not use more than 21GB per month. Probably 95% - 98% use less than that. To cite our own S4GRU internal poll, somewhere just north of 8% use that much data. And our members are typically pretty heavy users compared to the general population. But our data also illustrates that a minority of users, those who use more than 21GB per month, have a huge impact to the total usage. Just a small handful of abusers can account for 30% to 50% of all traffic. These people are killing unlimited data for all of us. S4GRU Staff and most of our members understand the burden that the abusers are creating to the network. We have been sitting by waiting for something to be done about it. We know something has to be done, and we support something to be done in general. But this is not it. The T-Mobile 21GB soft cap is one way. And frankly, it's much better than a 600kbps streaming cap. Your streaming cap affects all customers who stream. The Tmo 21GB cap affects only customers who have used more than their fair share. And it gets reset next month. Your 600kbps plan never gets reset. A customer can never do anything to have a good quality stream, except leave Sprint. I can understand why you wouldn't mind chasing away data abusers. But why would you want to chase away good customers who occasionally want to have a quality streaming experience? You're telling them they have to go to T-Mobile, or AT&T or Verizon if they want a quality video streaming experience. Bad idea! You need to remove the 600kbps streaming limit immediately from All In. Or it is dead on arrival. DOA. David Beckham can't save it as is. Like he is going to watch videos on his smartphone streamed at 600kbps. You need to do this in a way that punishes only those who abuse your unlimited offering. Not every day customers. Perhaps limiting video streaming to something more useful? Like 2Mbps. Or maybe a soft cap, like 21GB? Or 25GB? Also, the previous plans of only limiting users on sites that are over capacity. That at least was fair. I understand Net Neutrality all plays into this. But something better is needed. You're strangling your Golden Goose. It feels like you have just put Unlimited on life support. In conclusion We like the idea of simplicity. All In has good roots and the David Beckham video really drives home the point. It can be a good differentiator for Sprint. Although some of our members would like to see the pricing even lower to compete better with existing plans. That said, Sprint must do something else with the video stream throttling. It's nearly universal that 600kbps is too low. It's not even close to satisfactory. We have never had a virtually unanimous response before. Until now. Nearly everyone believes this is an outright awful move. We could find almost zero support even among Sprint's most loyal base. Marcelo, the tech media and the haters are eating your lunch today. You're being flamed, and All In will go down in flames if you don't do something about this. And fast. . Unlimited is what Sprint uses to differentiate itself from everyone else. And Sprint's unlimited reputation is being injured right now. Sprint cannot handle being branded as the network with unlimited, except streaming. It will drive customers away and keep them away in droves. The reputation is already starting to stick. Fix it! Fix it now! Marcelo, we are begging you to crack down on the data abusers. Not your everyday customers who may stream occasionally. Or may use a lot over one or two days every few months when on vacation. Most of your customers want to be able to have a quality streaming experience within a reasonable amount every month. But my real fear is new customers. They are expecting a quality streaming experience, as they received from their previous providers. Now just unlimited. It's not like Sprint sales reps are going to be telling everyone they are going to have a low resolution always buffering video streaming experience. It will be in the fine print that no one will read. And they are going to be pissed off at Sprint once they figure it out. And your competition and the Sprint haters are going to eat this up. John Legere is already grinning ear to ear like the Grinch who Stole Sprint Customers. There's still time to fix All In. But time is running out. Please make me look foolish for #AllInDOA. I want to eat my words. Err, hashtag. Marcelo did make me eat it! And it was tasty!
  5. 26 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 1:28 PM MDT Columbus. But not 1492. Just 8640. And 26640, too. This discovery did not require an Italian navigator sailing under the Spanish flag, nor the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. Instead, the explorers were an intrepid S4GRU Columbus membership group (sorry, restricted to S4GRU sponsors), some handsets, some screenshots, and some speed tests. Those last two numbers 8640 and 26640 are the paired EARFCNs 8640/26640 of a band 25 additional carrier found this week in the Columbus, OH BTA. Seemingly, not such a big deal. S4GRU and its members have been finding band 25 additional carriers with different EARFCNs in multiple markets for months now. We even have two tracking threads for additional LTE carriers -- one for all three bands, one for band 25. However, this band 25 additional carrier discovery represents truly a New World for Sprint. It is 10 MHz FDD. Now, that alone is a big deal. But it is actually just the second finding of a 10 MHz FDD carrier that we have had in the past four days. The Champaign-Urbana, IL BTA came first. We hope to follow up with an article on that later. More importantly, though, the Columbus 10 MHz FDD carrier is a complete refarming of the PCS G block. The standard 5 MHz FDD carrier at EARFCNs 8665/26665 that is omnipresent across the Sprint LTE network is gone -- it is gone forever where this new carrier has appeared in the Columbus BTA. To dive right in, let us take a look at two screenshots from the Columbus area... The engineering screenshot shows the new EARFCN pair of 8640/26640. That in and of itself is not evidence of 10 MHz FDD. But you have to understand that those EARFCNs put the center frequencies of the LTE carrier at 1990 MHz (downlink) and 1910 MHz (uplink), which is precisely the dividing line between the PCS C5 block and the PCS G block. Even as Sprint controls both blocks, there is no reason to make that move -- unless to expand LTE carrier bandwidth across both blocks. We will take a deeper look at this with Sprint spectrum holdings in a moment. Moreover, look at the speed test. With 2x2 downlink MIMO, a 5 MHz FDD carrier maxes out at 37 Mbps. This speed test -- and others gathered by the Columbus network trackers -- greatly exceeds that number. Add up the evidence. It is clearly a 10 MHz FDD carrier. Back to the spectrum issue, we should have an extensive look at the Sprint spectrum provenance in the Columbus market. Yes, it will be extensive, but I think that you will enjoy the history lesson. The reason is that Columbus holdings are somewhat unique, so this 10 MHz FDD fervor should not be extended elsewhere -- for now. The PCS D 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) block and PCS E 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) block were Sprint's original FCC auction winnings back in 1997. The PCS G 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) block was awarded to Nextel as compensatory spectrum for its SMR 800 MHz rebanding. Of course, Sprint acquired that nationwide set of licenses in the merger. The PCS C4 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) block is the most recent acquisition, as low budget wireless operator Revol went kaput and sold off its spectrum. The PCS C5 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) block is worth a separate discussion -- because it has an interesting history on several fronts. It was FCC auctioned three times. The first winner was NextWave, which later filed for bankruptcy protection. So, the FCC canceled licenses and auctioned again. Meanwhile, the growth of the wireless industry had caused NextWave's licenses to increase in value, leading to a Supreme Court ruling that the FCC was outside its bounds to confiscate the licenses from the bankrupt NextWave. Thus, that re auction was invalidated. Finally, NextWave reached a financial settlement with the FCC to return some of its licenses, which were "re re auctioned" in 2005. And Wirefree Partners, a DE (Designated Entity) working with Sprint, won the PCS C5 block in Columbus. That brings us to the second interesting point of spectrum provenance. And this part will certainly veer into editorial content. In FCC auctions, a DE is a small business or minority/woman controlled business that qualifies for bidding discounts. Additionally, the PCS C and F blocks typically were reserved or positioned for DEs. The idea was to increase diversity in the wireless industry. The predecessors of both T-Mobile and AT&T -- through the notorious likes of Cook Inlet PCS, Salmon PCS, et al. -- garnered many of their PCS licenses by way of DEs. Just this year, though, the FCC officially shot down Dish for its use of several DE bidders in the recent AWS-3 auction. No discount for Dish! VZW and Sprint rarely used such underhanded tactics, but this is one such case for Sprint. Wirefree Partners was a Sprint collaborator, qualified as a DE, won the Columbus license at auction, then later sold the license in full to Sprint. For a complete Sprint PCS 1900 MHz band plan in Columbus, see the following graphic: From a historical perspective, what we can see is that Sprint held three non contiguous blocks: PCS D, E, and C5. The additional guard bands due to lack of contiguity of those three blocks were not a great situation, but the total amount of spectrum was more than good enough for CDMA2000. However, when LTE entered the mix, things got truly interesting. That is when the PCS G and C4 blocks entered the stage. Next, let us look at deployment within Sprint's PCS spectrum holdings in Columbus. Think of the two graphs as before and after. The first, before, and the second, after Columbus 10 MHz FDD discovery: In the second graph, see how the PCS G block 5 MHz FDD carrier that Sprint users across the country are familiar with has been refarmed, then a new 10 MHz FDD carrier put in its place that spans both the PCS C5 and G blocks. An almost prophetic piece to all of this comes from the early history of S4GRU. In an article that we published over three years ago, S4GRU identified Columbus as a market that could run a 10 MHz FDD carrier through a combination of the PCS C5 block + PCS G block. Some spectrum holdings have changed that we could not have predicted at that time -- notably, the USCC and Revol spectrum acquisitions. But, remarkably, that possibility of a 10 MHz FDD carrier in Columbus has come to fruition. Read the article if you have not (yes, I wrote it), but you can view the table from it below: With the elimination of the band 25 carrier at EARFCNs 8665/26665, some may be worried that early single band Sprint LTE handsets will be forced back to EV-DO in the Columbus area. That is a legitimate concern, as many of those single band handsets were originally authorized with the FCC for only 5 MHz FDD, thus cannot use 10 MHz FDD. In refarming all of band 4 W-CDMA to LTE across multiple markets, for a similar example, T-Mobile certainly required affected users to upgrade to new devices or be hung out to dry on GSM. To provide just one key Sprint illustration, here is S4GRU's FCC OET article on the Samsung Galaxy S4. Note the 5 MHz FDD limitation. But here is the kicker. Most/all of those early single band handsets with LTE bandwidth limitations have had Class II Permissive Change filings at the FCC in the intervening years. Above is the linked filing for the Galaxy S4. Below is a pertinent screenshot from said filing. Note the "additional bandwidths" language. Even without the Class II filings, though, the expansion to 10 MHz FDD in Columbus should pose no harm to single band handsets. Long before this 10 MHz FDD carrier came to light, S4GRU members found evidence of an additional 5 MHz FDD band 25 carrier located at EARFCNs 8565/26565. See the engineering screenshot below: In a nutshell, the 5 MHz FDD carrier in the PCS G block has been replaced by an equivalent 5 MHz FDD carrier in the PCS C4 block -- as depicted in the deployment graph and screenshot above. Now, keep in mind, band 41 remains the high capacity priority for Sprint. This 10 MHz FDD refarming is not yet everywhere even in Columbus -- it has been popping up on various sites, spreading from the outside into the city. And while many other Sprint markets will have an additional 5 MHz FDD carrier in band 25, few will see 10 MHz FDD anytime soon. So, Columbus may serve as something of a testbed. But S4GRU has some educated insight as to where this might be headed next. As mentioned earlier, downstate Illinois around Champaign-Urbana also has unique spectrum holdings and got the 10 MHz FDD treatment a few days ago. Chicago has a similarly unique yet different spectrum set. But as S4GRU published in another article in 2012, it has a contiguous, green field USCC block of spectrum that now seems to be begging for 10 MHz FDD. A band 25 additional carrier already resides in that USCC PCS B block disaggregation -- but it is presently 5 MHz FDD. And an additional EV-DO carrier has been added at the bottom of the block. Still, there may be enough spectrum left to expand that 5 MHz FDD to 10 MHz FDD very soon. The Windy City, are you ready for it? We shall see if S4GRU's short term prediction proves as accurate as its spectrum analysis did three years ago. To be continued... Sources: FCC, S4GRU members and staff
  6. 24 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - 5:20 PM MDT It's finally happening. 2x Carrier Aggregation was found in the wild today on the Sprint network! We have been receiving reports for the past several months that second B41 channels were appearing all over Sprint-land, but nothing about finding them being aggregated together. That changed this afternoon. It was discovered today by an S4GRU Member in the Atlanta market that Carrier Aggregation is live on LTE Band 41 (TDD LTE 2600). S4GRU Member Camcroz was able to get his Samsung Galaxy S6 to connect to two B41 carriers simultaneously. Even with a medicore -108dBm signal while moving highway speeds, he was able to get nearly 90Mbps. Theoretical maximum for 2xCA on 20MHz TDD LTE channels in the time configuration Sprint is using is 160Mbps in ideal circumstances. We do not know the extent of how much is live in Atlanta or other markets. This may only have been a test and will be taken offline soon. Or it's possible that it is going live today in other Nokia markets, or maybe even Sprint-wide where two B41 channels are live. Camcroz reported to S4GRU he was able to keep B41 2xCA while travelling down Highway 400 near Avalon Mall in Alpharetta all the way across most of Atlanta, losing it as he approached the Hartsfield/Jackson International Airport where he ended up on Clear B41 single carrier. The picture below represents the member's findings. He reports that he had 94Mbps Down in his best test. He had to manually enable Carrier Aggregation himself on his GS6 using ##DATA#. Sprint devices currently have it disabled automatically. They will likely push an update in the future to enable it for customers. This is two 20MHz TDD-LTE B41 carriers connected together via Carrier Aggregation (noted as 2xCA). Sprint says it will not be until 2016 before they have devices released and the network prepared for 3xCA (three 20MHz carriers aggregated together). Let us know if you are able to find any 2xCA in your neck of the woods. Report your findings in the comments below or in an appropriate S4GRU forum thread. Viva la Carrier Aggregation!!!
  7. 24 points
    by Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 3:17 PM MDT Consider this just a public service announcement. Sprint Spark Band 41 Carrier Aggregation (2x CA) now is officially live according to a Sprint internal announcement leaked on Reddit today by a verified Sprint employee in the Sprint subreddit. Late last month, S4GRU found evidence of 2x CA being live in Atlanta, but this now is a formal notice that Sprint has sent to its employees. This is the present lineup of 2x CA capable devices: Samsung Galaxy S6 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Samsung Galaxy Note Edge LG G Flex 2 LG G4 HTC One M9 ZTE Hot Spot Edit: S4GRU has been fielding numerous questions on other devices. To make this very clear, the above are the only devices right now capable of 2xB41 Carrier Aggregation because they have the hardware (category 6 modem) that is required. Any other phones that were released previously are not compatible because their modems are not category 6 (or higher). As detailed in the internal document (posted below), the seven devices may receive automatic profile updates this week to enable 2x CA. Alternatively, as some S4GRU users have discovered, 2x CA may already be enabled or can be enabled manually via the hidden Data programming screen. Next, these are the initial markets in which Sprint is rolling out 2x CA: Boston New Jersey Long Island Philadelphia Metro Providence Southern Connecticut Baltimore Cincinnati Columbus East Michigan West Michigan Indianapolis Washington DC Austin Dallas Fort Worth Houston Kansas Missouri San Antonia Atlanta / Athens Miami / West Palm Orlando South West Florida Tampa Chicago Colorado Milwaukee Minnesota Oregon / SW Washington West Washington Utah LA Metro Las Vegas North LA Orange County Riverside / San Bernardino San Diego SF Bay South Bay For reference, here is a S4GRU map of all Sprint markets: Finally, this is the internal document posted on Reddit: Source(s): Reddit
  8. 24 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, September 28, 2015 - 10:40 AM MDT Update: Now that Google has released the full tech specs for the Nexus 6P, we can write a few addenda. While the FCC OET authorization filings disclosed support for several GSM, W-CDMA, and LTE international bands -- something that they are not required to do -- they curiously omitted W-CDMA band 8, which is the GSM 900 MHz band. Add that one to the W-CDMA list. Additionally, we can confirm that the Nexus 6P will require a 4FF nano SIM. For Sprint activation, will it be a USIM or a CSIM? That remains to be seen. Stay tuned. Late last Friday afternoon, the LG manufactured Google Nexus 5X made its debut in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization database. S4GRU staffers quickly got down to work and broke the story with RF analysis that very evening. Following hot on the heels of its smaller sibling, the Huawei manufactured Google Nexus 6P made a bright and early morning FCC OET appearance today. S4GRU was on the case right away. So, let us dive right in to the RF nitty gritty. The Nexus 6P band support currently covers all major domestic operators -- VZW, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, USCC, C Spire, etc. It even future proofs itself for AT&T usage to an extent by including nascent band 30 (WCS 2300 MHz), a band not present in the Nexus 5X. Moreover, it includes some notable international bands, which the authorization filing discloses. (Most FCC OET filings do not disclose international bands, as they are not required to be tested for US authorization.) For example, W-CDMA band 1 (IMT 1900+2100 MHz) is the primary W-CDMA band worldwide, and LTE band 3 (DCS 1800 MHz) is an emerging LTE band in many international markets. For your perusal, the many bands/classes... GSM 850/900/1800/1900 W-CDMA band 1/2/4/5 CDMA2000 band class 0/1/10 LTE band 2/3/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29(Rx only)/30/41 From a physical standpoint, the Nexus 6P incorporates a dual antenna system. All LTE handsets that support 2x2 downlink MIMO must have at least two Rx antennas. But the Nexus 6P also utilizes a dynamic antenna capability on uplink Tx, switching between the two antennas at will, depending upon handset orientation and signal conditions. Interestingly, though, the dynamic antenna Tx capability is limited to low band spectrum. Only bands/classes below 1 GHz are supported. Lastly, in another twist, the Nexus 6P authorization filings did include an antenna diagram -- something that has become increasingly rare due to cited confidentiality concerns. On the other hand, the antenna gain figures were not apparent anywhere in the filing. For the diagram, see below: In keeping with most of this year's handsets based on the Snapdragon 808 or 810 -- both of which incorporate on die the Snapdragon X10 LTE modem -- the Nexus 6P supports 2x carrier aggregation on the downlink in both intra band and inter band configurations. In the case of inter band 2x CA, either band can be operated as the PCC (primary) or SCC (secondary). 2x CA downlink bands: 2-2 4-4 41-41 2-4 2-5 2-12 2-13 2-17 2-29 4-5 4-12 4-13 4-17 4-29 To wrap things up, let us examine the LTE band RF output. The usual provisos about lab testing versus real world performance and uplink versus downlink apply. The figures represent my best averaged and rounded estimates of maximum uplink ERP/EIRP test results provided to the FCC OET in the authorization filings for the device. Overall, the ERP/EIRP figures are fairly consistent within each band and across all bands. In terms of tested performance relative to other handsets, the measurements are roughly average. The P in Nexus 6P is not for RF "powerhouse," but it certainly could stand for "proficient." Compared to the Nexus 5X, the Nexus 6P has a 2-3 dB tested advantage in high band, while the Nexus 5X has a 2-3 dB lead across most of the mid and low band. ERP/EIRP: Band 2: 21-22 dBm Band 4: 21-23 dBm Band 5: 18-19 dBm Band 7: 21-23 dBm Band 12: 17-18 dBm Band 13: 17-18 dBm Band 17: 17-18 dBm Band 25: 21-22 dBm Band 26: 18-19 dBm Band 30: 20-21 dBm Band 41: 21-22 dBm Source: FCC
  9. 22 points
    Seth GoodwinSprint 4G Rollout UpdatesMonday, April 30, 2018 - 5:00 PM PDT After three previous attempts during the past four years, something many thought may never happen actually did. On Sunday April 29, T-Mobile announced they were effectively acquiring Sprint in an all stock deal, combining the third and fourth largest carriers in the U.S. wireless market. Pending regulatory approval, the merger is targeted for closing in the first half of 2019. The Deal The deal using an exchange ratio of 0.10256 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile share valued Sprint at approximately $26.5 billion (plus the assumption of Sprint’s $30+ billion in debt) or $6.62 per share using T-Mobile’s Friday closing price of $64.52. The combined company “New T-Mobile” will be owned 41.7% by Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company. 27.4% of the company will be owned by Sprint's parent company SoftBank, with the remaining 30.9% owned by the general public and institutional investors. According to terms of the deal announced by both companies in a joint press release, the combined T-Mobile will retain two headquarters in Bellevue, Washington and Overland Park, Kansas. Current T-Mobile CEO John Legere will retain that role at the new company. T-Mobile’s Mike Sievert will serve as President and COO. No Sprint executives were announced to the management team at this time. Deutsche Telekom's Timotheus Höttges will serve as chairman of the company's board of directors, and DT will have 9 seats on the board compared to SoftBank's 4. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, and SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son will occupy two of SoftBank’s seats. As opposed to the famous T-Mobile/AT&T attempted tie up several years ago, this deal does not include a breakup fee should the merger fail to pass regulatory approval. Rather, Sprint has independently signed a roaming agreement with T-Mobile for four years that will continue regardless of the outcome of the merger. On the analyst call for the merger announcement Marcelo Claure said this would take effect immediately. As of the time this article was published, specific details pertaining to the roaming agreement and any actual known roaming connections have yet to materialize. The Plan Sprint and T-Mobile will continue operating separately until the conclusion of the merger, something that in and of itself raises multiple questions about this coming year. Hopefully we'll gain some more insights with Sprint's upcoming FY 2017/4th quarter earnings call. Assuming approval, the companies announced that they intend on spending up to $40 billion in the first three years on capital expenditures and consolidating operations into a single entity. According to the press release, this represents almost 50% more than what Sprint and T-Mobile combined had spent over the past three years. At the time of closing, the companies estimate that Sprint and T-Mobile will have approximately 110,000 macro cell towers. Of these, around 35,000 will be decommissioned due to co-location or other redundancies. 10,000 new sites will be added leaving New T-Mobile with approximately 85,000 macro sites. Within the first three years of a combined company it is also estimated that the carrier will have over 50,000 small cells independent of magic boxes. The two carriers currently have around 10,000 combined. The stated plan is to “use T-Mobile as the anchor network” and use selected Sprint “keep” sites to add coverage and density. At a minimum, Sprint’s BRS/EBS 2.5 GHz spectrum will be added to T-Mobile’s sites and T-Mobile’s “full spectrum portfolio” will be deployed on Sprint’s “keep” sites. At face value, this would point toward mainly decommissioning Sprint sites as part of the 35,000-macro site reduction. In actuality we'll see what they do. For example all things equal, if two sites are co-located the greater synergies are in eliminating the tower rack with less favorable lease terms or worse rack location. VoLTE and Two-dot-Five The conference call noted while the goal is to migrate Sprint's CDMA customers to VoLTE as soon as possible, with 20 million Sprint customers having T-Mobile compatible handsets on day one. The intention is to have the total migration to T-Mobile completed over a three-year period without “degrading experience on Sprint’s network.” This suggests at a minimum keeping Sprint’s 1x800 voice service active during the transition as well as a deliberate coordinated process for overall decommissioning of macro sites. The other thing to watch going forward in this area is that T-Mobile makes no mention in their investor presentation toward utilizing anything other than Sprint’s 2.5 spectrum on their sites. A Sprint T-Mobile merger would create a spectrum behemoth with holdings ranging from T-Mobile’s low band 600 MHz for building penetration and rural coverage all the way through Sprint’s 2.5 GHz for capacity and speed. On Sunday, executives announced they have no intention of divesting any spectrum. However, questions remain on issues like what does a company that already possesses 600 MHz and 700 MHz LTE spectrum do with 800 MHz? How do T-Mobile and Sprint independently spend CapEx this year without diminishing merger synergies? We at S4GRU plan on potentially analyzing a combined company’s significant aggregate spectrum situation in a separate article at a later date. According to the investor information provided, the combined company is estimated to have run rate cost synergies in excess of $6 billion annually or on a net present value basis in excess of $43 billion. $26 billion NPV or $4 billion annually of these annual savings would be derived from network consolidation and CapEx synergies. Additional savings could come from consolidation of operations including store closing and eliminating corporate redundancies. From Sprint’s perspective these savings would be significant. The carrier has not turned a profit in the past 10 years. However, with these savings (even a portion of these savings) the carrier hypothetically would have been profitable all 10 years. Regulatory Hurdles This merger is not a done deal by any means. It faces regulatory scrutiny from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, AT&T and T-Mobile attempted to merge only to be shot down by the government. Sprint and T-Mobile were reportedly told not to even try four years ago. The prior administration's thinking had constantly been that by allowing any combination of the big 4 U.S. wireless carriers to merge into three, consolidation would negatively impact the average consumer due to lower competition in the market. On the conference call Marcelo Claure noted that regulatory approval is “the elephant in the room.” Claure and Legere are expected to embark on a tour of Washington D.C. to try and gain favor for the merger later this week. Much has changed in Washington since Sprint and T-Mobile’s last attempt at a tie-up, but whether or not a merger is anywhere close to a guarantee to pass remains in limbo. President Donald Trump has positioned himself as a pro-business President, meeting with Masa Son shortly after his election. And while Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai has made comments signaling he may be more open to market consolidation than his predecessors; President Trump’s DOJ is simultaneously attempting to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Claure and Legere noted that they had talked to Pai, but had yet to talk to anyone at the DOJ prior to announcing the merger. The Sell With nothing guaranteed, selling this merger to the government and the public is going to be the key factor on whether or not it ultimately gets approved. Sprint and T-Mobile executives wasted no time in starting on Sunday launching the pro merger site allfor5g.com. Legere and Claure continued touting the merger in a series of interviews and television appearances Sunday night and Monday morning. Based on early results, the argument for the merger is fairly crafted towards its intended audience. The crux of T-Mobile and Sprint’s contention is that 5G is the future, and the future is costly. Both companies maintain a 3rd stronger carrier is better than 4 carriers in a market, two of which are at a capital disadvantage. Claure noted that, “It’s a very simple rule of business---both companies need each other.” Sprint has 2.5 GHz spectrum that will be optimal for 5G but lacks the financial resources to deploy its own. A new T-Mobile benefits from the 2.5 GHz spectrum, a larger combined customer base, financial synergies, and greater economies of scale to effectively deploy 5G. Legere noted their goal to eventually be able to provide 450 Mbit/s speeds consistently everywhere. The 5G argument is significant for a couple of reasons. The first is the current administration has made 5G a quasi-national security issue. The merger of Qualcomm and Broadcom was blocked partially on the grounds of China taking the lead in 5G, and it was widely reported at one point that the Trump administration was considering nationalizing 5G out of security concerns with China. The goal here is that if you let New T-Mobile happen they contend that they will be in a position to deliver 5G rapidly, creating a sense of urgency that a deal needs to be approved sooner than later. If you don’t let them combine they aren’t in the same position to make that happen. They also contended that 5G would allow for the innovators of the future, a not so thinly veiled overall economic development message. The other major 5G argument centers on rural expansion. For a long-time wireless rural cell service and rural broadband have been an important political and economic development issue. Historically rural service has lagged as the infrastructure cost to deliver service far exceeds any revenue operators can hope to recoup. Legere and Claure have immediately been pushing the notion that a merger would allow the combined carrier to bring rural broadband across the nation (as well as creating jobs in rural areas during the network deployment). Lastly, their final argument centers around job creation. Typically, one of the reasons companies merge is that you can save money by eliminating duplicate positions within two separate organizations. Legere on Sunday claimed that this merger would create “thousands of American jobs” with 200,000 people working either directly for or on behalf of a combined entity. This likely faces more regulatory scrutiny than some of the other pro-merger arguments, as again typically mergers result in overall contraction. Furthermore, Sprint on its own announced several hundred layoffs within the past few months. Why now? In the near term, the FCC at some point soon is going to impose a quiet period forbidding anyone that is participating in this fall’s spectrum auction (an auction Sprint and T-Mobile are seeking a waiver for to jointly coordinate bidding strategies) from discussing mergers. Additionally, the longer the wait is, it is likely some of the merger synergies would be eliminated. Sprint towers that are redundant to T-Mobile are not to Sprint itself. If Sprint's executive team was to be believed, Sprint was poised to spend $5 to 6 billion on Capex each of the next three years. Undoubtedly some of that, a potentially significant portion, would've been on towers T-Mobile has no interest in retaining. Slightly longer term, if there was ever a presidential administration to try this under it is this one. Much like this merger's outcome President Trump's re-election is far from a certainty. If a Democratic administration were to come back to Washington D.C. odds of any merger approval diminish significantly. Longer term yet, Sprint hasn’t turned a profit in 10 years. Marcelo Claure has done a more than admirable job at steering the ship during his four-year tenure: cutting costs, coming up with creative cost-effective network deployment strategies, etc. However, at some point access to traditional borrowing markets may have been cutoff due to Sprint's inability to generate a profit or even consistent free cash flows. It didn’t appear imminent given their two-time borrowing this year, but the company has over $27 billion in debt due over the next 6 years. It is pretty easy to envision a scenario where bond investors said times up. Beyond that, the simple burden of debt may have become so overwhelming that even if it didn't threaten the going concern of the company, it negatively impacted capital expenditures, something we've seen recently. Long-term is actually the story of the past 5+ years. Sprint has incredible spectrum assets, but it needed someone more financially able and willing to deploy them. SoftBank through either inability to act due to debt covenants with Japanese banks lending it money or through deliberate choice—in hindsight was never the savior it seemed. On paper, this merger should seemingly create a financially healthy company that finally is able to leverage Sprint's vast spectrum assets. However, as in the past, time will tell... Source: 5gforall- https://allfor5g.com/
  10. 22 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, August 10, 2015 - 10:30 PM MDT What began as widespread speculation back in May came to fruition today. Shenandoah Telecommunications (Shentel) announced its intention to buy nTelos in a $208 million deal ($640 million total counting debt Shentel will assume). The purchase includes network, spectrum licenses, retail customers/stores and all assets. Shentel is a regional affiliate for Sprint and provides wireless service in the Upper Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and West Virginia, the Maryland Panhandle and Central Pennsylvania. nTelos has been a wholesale partner to Sprint, selling capacity to Sprint customers in the Lower Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge communities of Virginia and most of the State of West Virginia. nTelos coverage area is directly adjacent to Shentel with only a little overlap. nTelos coverage complements Shentel's very well. Shentel will have over one million customers in the newly combined company, making it the sixth largest wireless company in the U.S. and the largest Sprint affiliate. At conclusion of the purchase, Shentel will take control of nTelos and its assets. nTelos will cease to exist, having spun off its wireline and fiber assets into Lumos Networks a few years back. So, the rural telco that reached the big time 15 years ago in the Richmond-Norfolk MTA when it purchased a PCS B block 20 MHz divestment from PrimeCo in the merger that created Verizon will be gone for good. The writing was on the wall when nTelos sold off its spectrum to T-Mobile in its large markets of Richmond and Norfolk this past year. Bringing to end an era, as Shentel shutters nTelos' Waynesboro, Virginia headquarters and puts its campus up for sale. Choosing to consolidate the combined company at Shentel's Harrisonburg, Virginia HQ. The end of nTelos will be bittersweet for some, but likely not to be missed by many Sprint customers. Shentel doubles down and re-ups with Sprint extending affiliation In announcing the merger, Shentel concurrently released details of new extended and expanded affiliation agreements with Sprint that now to run through 2029. These separate deals call for the disbanding of nTelos and transfer of the existing nearly 300,000 nTelos customers to the Sprint brand. Existing nTelos retail locations will also be converted to Sprint branding while being managed by Shentel. Sprint will transfer their existing nearly 300,000 customers in nTelos territory into the Shentel affiliate agreement. Most important in this deal is the significant impact on the Sprint network in the Shentel and nTelos territories. Sprint will receive “all spectrum assets in nTelos’ footprint.” This covers more than 5 million people in portions of Kentucky, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Shentel will assume responsibility of nTelos' network upgrade and LTE deployment. Which will also include additional cell sites and coverage expansion. Shentel's infusion into the current nTelos network is desperately needed nTelos currently provides 1x voice and 3G EVDO data native coverage to Sprint customers in Western Virginia and West Virginia. nTelos was already in the process of trying to upgrade its network to 4G LTE through a slow and insufficiently funded process. In some areas, nTelos did have LTE open and live for its own nTelos branded customers. However, Sprint customers could not access it. nTelos and Sprint expanded their wholesale agreement last year to include 4G LTE. Under the agreement, nTelos had until 2017 to get the network up and running for Sprint LTE customers, adding Sprint LTE bands using Sprint spectrum assets. nTelos current LTE deployed was not usable to Sprint customer handsets, as it runs on PCS LTE Band 2. And Sprint's is deployed on PCS LTE Band 25. S4GRU hopes that Shentel will deploy MFBI to the newly acquired nTelos LTE network and open it up for Sprint/Shentel customers as soon as physically possible. This should be a priority, as Sprint customers in nTelos areas have been limited to mediocre 3G for years. And we have nearly countless stories of S4GRU members and visitors airing their frustrations and leaving Sprint or nTelos for the Duopoly. But the end is near! nTelos may have a reputation for being way behind the times and struggling, but Shentel is viewed largely the opposite. Shentel has proven to be a well run regional wireless operator and has been on the forefront of its Network Vision upgrade with Sprint. Shentel outperformed virtually every Sprint market in deploying its network modernization upgrades and LTE deployment. The Shentel affiliate market is arguably the best performing Sprint market in the country. Shentel is also aggessive in monitoring and maintaining its network. To keep capacity maximized, keep throughput speeds high and provide the most seamless coverage imaginable in a hilly and mountainous environment. Shentel makes Sprint look good in its region, providing coverage and performance surpassing AT&T and Verizon nearly everywhere. Shentel plans an accelerated network upgrade nTelos customers and Sprint customers in nTelos areas will likely be very pleased with the transition. If the network upgrades can happen fast enough. Shentel did commit to speeding up the process. On their website, they say... Shentel is committing over $300 Million in network upgrades and enhancements to bring its newly acquired nTelos coverage areas to Sprint standards and add LTE Bands 25, 26 and 41 (Spark) into the mix. Shentel also will be adding approximately 150 new macro sites (identified in orange on the map at the bottom of the page). Shentel says that the additional coverage from the new sites will improve the experience for the Sprint customers it serves and be more consistent with the type of seamless coverage its existing customers experience in current Shentel service areas. Shentel wants to close the gap and provide a more competitive experience against AT&T, Verizon and U.S. Cellular. There are many customers that Shentel can gain in nTelos areas, as nTelos tends to have a much smaller market share than Shentel does in its markets. The exact details and dates are still being finalized and pretty much are pending the conclusion of the purchase. Shentel expects to have the acquisition wrapped in six months -- but hopes it may be sooner. No significant government hurdles are expected with this transaction. As part of the deal, Sprint will get nTelos varied spectrum license assets. nTelos currently holds spectrum in its coverage area in PCS, AWS and BRS bands. These will complement Sprint's spectrum portfolio very well. Sprint actively uses PCS for voice and 3G/LTE data and BRS for Spark LTE data. Shentel will be using existing and newly acquired licenses in its deployments. What is not known at this time is whether Sprint will sell or trade the Band 4 AWS licenses it will pick up -- or possibly put them to use. Most new Sprint devices since mid 2014 now support LTE in the AWS band, and Sprint could choose to keep these licenses. What to take from all this This is good news for Sprint customers and nTelos customers in Western Virginia and West Virginia. nTelos did not provide good service to Sprint customers in its area. And nTelos customers weren't all that pleased either. There was a steady drumbeat of complaints about nTelos in our forums. Shentel is likely to face a lot of bumps in the road and some major setbacks along the course overtaking nTelos. But it will likely do a much better job along the way. Shentel is well managed from our perspective and better funded. Shentel hit its milestones early and is fairly proactive. The network is going to improve significantly. And once Shentel gets the reins, the progress will move much faster and be measurable. We think Shentel will do well if it can capitalize the upgrades sufficiently and timely. And this is all upside for Sprint. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that Shentel make opening up the existing nTelos LTE network for Sprint customers a number one priority. Though there is some cost and resources to do this, it will help reduce churn and start building excitement among the remaining Sprint customers in the area. We all need to see something is happening right out of the gate. And Marcelo, if you're reading, please do something about your only other remaining affiliate, Swiftel up in South Dakota. It will be the last vestige of the Sprint network languishing without upgrades. Please, we are begging you! Maybe Shentel West? CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE. Map showing Shentel's and nTelos' combined coverage (cyan) and Shentel's planned site locations (orange) to better compete with Verizon, AT&T and U.S. Cellular Source: Shentel, Sprint
  11. 22 points
    Couldn't help myself. Got to work today and went to put my lunch in the fridge. I noticed the microwave, did a double-take, then took this picture: I sent it to my wife with a note, "We must have good reception on the microwave today. 4 bars." I'll show myself out. - Trip
  12. 21 points
    Josh HillSprint 4G Rollout UpdatesFriday, April 5, 2019 - 3:06 AM PDT Now that VoLTE is actually rolling out on Sprint, it's a good time to dive into what exactly is VoLTE, and how is it different from Calling+ and VoWiFi (Wifi Calling). Background Terms E-UTRA or EUTRA: Stands for Evolved Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Terrestrial Radio Access. This is the technical name for the actual LTE airlink. QoS: Quality of Service. This is a way of tagging / flagging certain types of traffic to have priority above or below other traffic. When traffic has a QoS tag higher than other traffic, network equipment (the tower, routers, etc) will drop or ignore lower priority traffic to ensure that this traffic goes through instead. The equipment can also be configured to reserve a certain amount of bandwidth to only be used by traffic with a particular QoS tag. For example, if a router has 10 Mbps available, it can allocate 1 Mbps for a certain QoS tag. Normal traffic will only be able to use 9 Mbps, with 1 Mbps reserved for that QoS tag. The number of QoS priorities / tags varies between equipment vendors, but can be in excess of 256 priority levels. QCI: QoS Class Identifier. This is a value that an LTE / E-UTRA session can be assigned that corresponds to a particular QoS tag and specific attributes of that particular QoS queue. For example, it may or may not specify a guaranteed/dedicated bandwidth allocation (GBR). APN: The APN is the name of the gateway on a mobile network. It identifies the packet data network that should be used for that E-UTRA session. IMS: IP Multimedia Subsystem. It is a method for sending SMS over LTE, along with setting up VoLTE calls and other signaling. eCSFB: Circuit Switched Fall Back. For phones / UEs that can only listen on either LTE or CDMA rather than both simultaneously, it is a method for the LTE network to tell the device that a call is coming in, and to switch over to CDMA to process it. SRLTE: Single Radio LTE. This is a capability of newer devices that allows them to listen on both CDMA and LTE at the same time, but only transmit on one at a time. This replaces the need for eCSFB, allowing the device to see a call coming in over CDMA while it’s using LTE. It is also more reliable and reduces the number of missed calls due to failed fallback. When a call is active, the LTE session is stopped / paused. SIP: Session Initialization Protocol. This is the standard protocol for VoIP in telecom networks. How VoLTE Works While we typically think of LTE as a single connection, multiple E-UTRA “sessions” can actually be established, creating what are essentially virtual/multiple LTE interfaces, each with their own IP address, QoS level, APN, etc. Each session has a numerical QCI assigned that dictates the actual QoS priority and whether or not it has a GBR (Guaranteed Bitrate). QCI Resource Type QoS Priority Packet Delay Budget Packet Error Loss Rate Example Services 1 GBR 2 100ms 10−2 Conversational Voice 2 GBR 4 150ms 10−3 Conversational Video (Live Streaming) 3 GBR 3 50ms 10−3 Real Time Gaming, V2X messages 4 GBR 5 300ms 10−6 Non-Conversational Video (Buffered Streaming) 65 GBR 0.7 75ms 10−2 Mission Critical user plane Push To Talk voice (e.g., MCPTT) 66 GBR 2 100ms 10−2 Non-Mission-Critical user plane Push To Talk voice 75 GBR 2.5 50ms 10−2 V2X messages 5 non-GBR 1 100ms 10−6 IMS Signalling 6 non-GBR 6 300ms 10−6 Video (Buffered Streaming) TCP-Based (for example, www, email, chat, ftp, p2p and the like) 7 non-GBR 7 100ms 10−3 Voice, Video (Live Streaming), Interactive Gaming 8 non-GBR 8 300ms 10−6 Video (Buffered Streaming) TCP-Based (for example, www, email, chat, ftp, p2p and the like) 9 non-GBR 9 300ms 10−6 Video (Buffered Streaming) TCP-Based (for example, www, email, chat, ftp, p2p and the like). Typically used as default bearer 69 non-GBR 0.5 60ms 10−6 Mission Critical delay sensitive signalling (e.g., MC-PTT signalling) 70 non-GBR 5.5 200ms 10−6 Mission Critical Data (e.g. example services are the same as QCI 6/8/9) 79 non-GBR 6.5 50ms 10−2 V2X messages (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QoS_Class_Identifier) As you can see in the above table, the QCI does not necessarily correspond to the QoS level. For example, QCI 1 has a QoS priority of 2, but QCI 5 has a QoS priority of 1, making it actually higher priority traffic. On Sprint, traditionally one E-UTRA session was used, with a QCI of 9 and QoS priority of 9. This is the lowest QoS priority, and does not have a guaranteed bitrate. On devices which use eCSFB or VoLTE, another E-UTRA session is established for the IMS APN using a QCI of 5 and QoS priority of 1, and is used for IMS. This session also does not have a guaranteed bitrate, but it has the highest QoS priority. IMS is used for SMS over LTE, along with setting up VoLTE calls. eCSFB devices use it for SMS, and likely also for triggering eCSFB. On newer device which instead use SRLTE, IMS is not used unless VoLTE is enabled, and they instead use CDMA 1x for SMS, so an IMS E-UTRA session is often not setup. When a VoLTE call is initiated, a third E-UTRA session is established, also using the IMS APN. This session has a QCI of 1 and QoS priority of 2. Unlike the other two sessions, this one does have a guaranteed bitrate. For Sprint, this bitrate is 39 Kbps. The screenshot below shows all 3 sessions: VoLTE E-UTRA sessions This is how VoLTE calls are prioritized over regular data. Normal data usage, such as loading a web page or watching a video, will still use the lower, default QoS (QCI of 9), while the data for the VoLTE call will be at the second highest priority (QCI 1), just after IMS signaling (QCI 5). The tower / eNB will ensure that the VoIP session always is able to use up to 39 Kbps by reserving that bandwidth and dedicating it to the call. This is in contrast to “Calling+”, which does not establish a separate E-UTRA session, and instead uses the normal QCI 9 session. The below screenshot shows an active Calling+ call. Note the presence of only a single E-UTRA session. Calling+ E-UTRA sessions So now that we have the airlink for VoLTE, what happens? VoLTE, Calling+, and VoWiFi are essentially standard SIP VoIP calls. The below screenshots show the SIP details for an active call, and the LTE Signaling messages that setup and then end the SIP call. VoLTE SIP details VoLTE Signaling For VoLTE, the traffic for the SIP call goes over the QCI 1 E-UTRA session instead of the normal QCI 9 session. This means that the eNB (tower) will reserve and guarantee 39 kbps for the call, but other traffic from the same device will not be prioritized and will use the normal session. So starting a VoLTE call will not make the rest of your traffic prioritized, it will apply only to the VoLTE call. So as a recap, when VoLTE is enabled, the UE / phone establishes multiple E-UTRA sessions. One is used for normal usage, one is used for texting and signaling, and one is used for the VoLTE call. Think of these like separate virtual ethernet cables. On the QoS prioritized and guaranteed bitrate VoLTE session, the UE establishes a SIP VoIP connection for a call. On Calling+ devices, the same SIP connection is used, however it runs over the default QCI 9 session instead, and therefore isn’t prioritized and doesn't have a guaranteed bandwidth. This is why Calling+ calls are more likely to cut out or not sound as good. VoLTE call Calling+ call VoWiFi (Wifi calling) operates almost the same way. Like VoLTE and Calling+, it also uses the same SIP connection for calls and presumably IMS for signaling, but instead of using an LTE E-UTRA session, the phone establishes an IKEv2 IPsec VPN connection to Sprint. This is an encrypted connection that allows data to be tunneled directly into Sprint’s network. The SIP and IMS traffic are then routed over this VPN to Sprint, but not other, normal traffic. From a QoS perspective, VoWiFi is identical to Calling+, in that neither are prioritized above other traffic. VoWiFi call Because VoLTE, Calling+, and VoWiFi all use the same SIP servers and connections, under normal conditions they sound the same and can technically hand off to one another. They can all take advantage of HD Voice codecs and should sound the same, since the call itself is identical across all three. The difference is how the data for that call makes it to Sprint. VoLTE is able to use a dedicated, guaranteed airlink to ensure that congestion on the network (LTE or WiFi) won’t adversely affect the call. One final performance benefit is that VoLTE is able to take advantage of something called RoHC (Robust Header Compression), seen in the above 3 screenshots. This compresses the IP, TCP, UDP, and RTP headers from 60 bytes to 1-3 bytes, resulting in up to 60% bandwidth savings. It’s only possible on a dedicated link, which is why VoLTE has it but Calling+ and VoWiFi do not. So not only does VoLTE have guaranteed, dedicated bandwidth, it will use potentially half as much, which matters a lot for maintaining the call in edge of cell scenarios.
  13. 21 points
    by Tim Yu and Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 6:25 AM MST Call it a comeback. The band, the PCS band is getting back together. Pun intended. You will understand soon. After a two year absence, the popular one, two, three part "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" article series is back for an encore. For full comprehension, refer back to those articles -- and others linked throughout this article. We will lead you in the direction of learning. No worries. But now with a lead writer duo and a change in artistic direction, the topic of this article has shifted from engineering screens to band 25 expanded bandwidth primary carriers. The frequency focus, though, remains the same. Perhaps also long overdue, Sprint finally has entered the spectrum alignment game of musical chairs that VZW, AT&T, and T-Mobile have been playing for a while in the AWS-1 and PCS bands. In this case, Sprint and AT&T are the dance partners. More on that after some PCS band background. The PCS 1900 MHz spectrum alphabet is not quite what might be expected to the uninitiated. Sequentially, the band runs A, D, B, E, F, C, G. Without delving too much into the 25 year old history and politics of the band, that alphabet is a product of block sizes -- PCS A/B/C blocks are 30 MHz (15 MHz FDD), PCS D/E/F blocks are 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) -- and spectrum caps at the time of FCC auctions in the 1990s that allowed licensees to obtain up to 45 MHz of total spectrum in urban markets, 55 MHz of total spectrum in rural markets. The spectrum cap, by the way, is long gone, replaced with a spectrum screen by a free market frenzy FCC administration over a decade ago. For the time being, set aside the PCS G block, which is 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD). It was created much later, never auctioned. Rather, it was compensatory to Nextel for spectrum losses incurred in rebanding Public Safety SMR 800 MHz. Sprint now holds all PCS G block licenses nationwide. So, back to the 1995-2003 era, a Cellular 850 MHz incumbent with a Cellular A/B block 25 MHz (12.5 MHz FDD) license in Chicago, for example, could not acquire also a PCS A/B/C block license -- that would push it over the 45 MHz urban market total spectrum cap. But that incumbent could acquire also a PCS D/E/F block license and stay under the cap. Along the same lines, a new entrant into a market could acquire one PCS A/B/C block license and one PCS D/E/F block license for 40 MHz of total spectrum that could be contiguous within the convoluted A, D, B, E, F, C, G alphabet. That possibility, though, did not come to pass much at FCC auction 20 years ago. Spectrum contiguity was not all that important for GSM, IS-136 TDMA, and cdmaOne/CDMA2000, not even so much for W-CDMA. But with LTE, circumstances have changed. That is a lot of abstract information. To put a face to the name, see a visual representation of the entire PCS band plan, followed by three exploded views of just the adjacent PCS C and G blocks: The uplink runs 1850-1915 MHz, the downlink 1930-1995 MHz, separated by an 80 MHz FDD offset. In the figures below the full PCS band plan, see the three exploded views of the PCS C and G blocks -- soon to be the focus of this "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" article. The first of the three exploded views above shows the intact PCS C 30 MHz (15 MHz FDD) block -- this is relatively rare among licenses. Long story somewhat short, most PCS C block licenses had to be auctioned by the FCC multiple times, as many original Designated Entity entrepreneur/minority class winners found that they ultimately could not afford their licenses and construct networks. A quote from a previous S4GRU article: So, for reauction, most PCS C block licenses were disaggregated into smaller, easier to afford blocks. Note the PCS C1/C2 15 MHz (7.5 MHz FDD) blocks and PCS C3/C4/C5 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) blocks in the second and third exploded views of the PCS C and G blocks. That whole PCS C block medley will come into play up next. Just be sure to note in the band plan diagrams the spectrum contiguity of the PCS C + PCS G, PCS C1 + PCS G, or PCS C5 + PCS G block combinations. A few weeks back, S4GRU received whispered word and saw PRL change indications that Sprint internally was discussing and prepping for spectrum swaps, whereby Sprint would trade some less strategic PCS holdings in return for PCS C block spectrum that is contiguous with its PCS G block. This type of deal would grant Sprint contiguous PCS holdings to expand LTE from a 5 MHz FDD carrier to a 10 MHz FDD carrier -- or even beyond to a 15-20 MHz FDD carrier in the future when CDMA2000 is significantly pruned or decommissioned. For a visual depiction of one previous example of LTE in the PCS G block expanded into the contiguous PCS C block, thus going from 5 MHz FDD to 10 MHz FDD, see a graphic of what already has happened with earlier, unrelated spectrum transactions in Columbus, OH: Compare to the exploded views earlier in this article of the PCS C and G blocks. And read our Columbus 10 MHz FDD discovery article for further background. Then, for those aforementioned spectrum rearrangement rumors to come to fruition, we did not have to wait long at all. In what may be the first of many such spectrum deals, Sprint and AT&T filed with the FCC last week applications to swap PCS spectrum in several Basic Trading Area (BTA) markets: In summary, both Sprint and AT&T make out pretty well in this deal. Both parties will be able to improve their respective PCS spectrum contiguity. It is a quid pro quo. All spectrum Sprint acquires will be PCS C block, while all spectrum AT&T acquires in exchange will be PCS A, B, D, or F block. The important takeaways are that Sprint will be able to expand LTE from the PCS G block into the PCS C block for a 10-15 MHz FDD carrier -- but that Sprint will have to eliminate or relocate CDMA2000 operations in the aforementioned blocks shipped off to AT&T. For Sprint, all of the listed markets then will have 20 MHz (10 MHz FDD) of contiguous PCS spectrum, quite a few 30 MHz (15 MHz FDD) or even 40 MHz (20 MHz FDD) of contiguous PCS spectrum. Sprint will be able to expand LTE carrier bandwidth -- instead of adding a 5 MHz FDD band 25 second carrier -- as well as reduce CDMA2000 carrier guard band spectrum usage to a minimum. The FCC approval of these applications is in zero doubt. It will be a rubber stamp. All transfers are relatively even spectrum swaps and in the public interest. But carrier reconfiguration will not happen right away. Sprint and AT&T have set up spectrum leases for each other in the interim. For Sprint, it will have to pare down and/or relocate CDMA2000 carriers to the acquired PCS C block spectrum. That is the reason behind the PRL updates, which will aid CDMA2000 acquisition once any carriers change frequencies. S4GRU loves to encourage engineering screen watching -- just as we have done in the previous "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" articles. The more you know. See the three articles linked at the beginning of this article. Now, for those in markets listed in this transaction, watch for LTE EARFCNs to switch from 8665/26665 to 8640/26640. The latter is a clear sign of 10 MHz FDD. S4GRU tracks these in its EARFCN thread, which we update periodically. Additionally, original CDMA carrier channel assignments will vary considerably, but watch for any carriers in band class 1 to shift to the 900-1200 range. Full disclosure, not all counties in the listed BTAs will be affected the same -- because of existing spectrum partitions and disaggregations. Those in outlying areas may not benefit, but all titular BTA cities will gain 20-40 MHz (10-20 MHz FDD) of contiguous PCS C block + PCS G block spectrum and should deploy at least 10 MHz FDD band 25 in the coming months. With that said, Sprint finally gets back into the game of horse trading spectrum with a competitor -- instead of sitting on the sidelines watching the others do these deals to their own benefit all the time. T-Mobile defines its band 4 "wideband" LTE as 15-20 MHz FDD. Sprint already has plenty of band 41 at 20 MHz TDD, more and more everyday with the WiMAX shutdown. But soon, Sprint also may have "wideband" LTE in band 25. We shall see. Expect to hear it here first. S4GRU had the heads up on previous 10 MHz FDD possibilities already four years ago -- exactly four years to the date of the Sprint-AT&T spectrum transfer applications at the FCC last week. Coincidence? For a more detailed look at the pluses and minuses of the spectrum swaps in the noted markets, see our S4GRU spreadsheet. Source: FCC
  14. 20 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, September 3, 2015 - 3:28 AM MDT Ladies and gentlemen, C Spire has left the building. In Memphis. Or so it seems. Based on an FCC spectrum lease filing that came down the pike earlier this week, Cellular South dba C Spire has applied to lease all of its spectrum in Memphis to Sprint. S4GRU has not been able to confirm yet, but this almost certainly appears to signal a C Spire exit from Memphis -- its largest urban market into which it expanded just a few years ago. Disclaimer: the FCC ULS (Universal Licensing System) -- which is the parent database for all spectrum licenses and applications and is what I access directly to do spectrum research -- is down for a server migration over the Labor Day holiday weekend, not back online until sometime next week. In fact, the FCC ULS went offline right in the midst of my research a night ago. Fortunately, I was able to gather the relevant info on the Memphis spectrum to be leased to Sprint. However, the entirety of the transaction also involves Sprint leasing spectrum elsewhere back to C Spire -- more on that later. As more information becomes available, we will publish an update or a follow up, if warranted. In Memphis, the spectrum to be leased to Sprint is the PCS 1900 MHz C2 block 15 MHz (7.5 MHz FDD) and Lower 700 MHz A block 12 MHz (6 MHz FDD) licenses. From a CDMA2000 standpoint, the PCS would be band class 1 spectrum; the Lower 700 MHz is irrelevant for CDMA2000. For LTE, the PCS would be band 2 or band 25 spectrum, which Sprint would utilize as band 25, and the Lower 700 MHz would be band 12, which Sprint has not held in any other market. That last piece is a key point -- more on that later, too. At this point, S4GRU cannot definitively comment on C Spire's motivation to leave its largest market -- if that indeed is what is happening. Albeit, similar regional operator USCC faced struggles with expansion into Chicago and St. Louis, eventually closing down those markets and selling off spectrum to Sprint. Likely, that is what is happening in Memphis. Along possibly related lines, USCC faced spectrum constraints with launching LTE in Chicago and St. Louis, potentially rendering them dead end markets in the current LTE focused environment. From Spectrum Gateway's interactive map, we can see that UHF channel 51 presently conflicts with Lower 700 MHz A block deployment in Memphis. With its Lower 700 MHz A block license encumbered and decent but not large PCS spectrum holdings in Memphis, C Spire likely faced a difficult road to LTE there. S4GRU may try to seek official comment from C Spire on this matter. Presumably, though, C Spire will address the Memphis issue in the coming days, providing some clarity on the matter. If C Spire is truly exiting the Memphis market, it will have to notify its existing subscribers. All of that ambiguity aside, Sprint's motivation is clearly understandable. After the USCC transaction in Chicago and the Revol transaction in Cleveland and Indianapolis, Memphis is one of the last few top markets where Sprint holds only 20 MHz total of PCS A-F block spectrum -- even more dire, that 20 MHz in Memphis is broken up into two non contiguous 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) blocks. Though a minimal amount of info has changed in the intervening years or decades since I did the pro bono work, you can view some of my Sprint spectrum documentation, including Memphis, in this spreadsheet, this map, and this spreadsheet. What that means presently for Sprint in Memphis is additional guard bands are required because of the interrupted spectrum blocks and no chance of LTE carrier bandwidth greater than 5 MHz FDD, nor any band 25 second carrier until after significant CDMA2000 thinning or shutdown. But this spectrum from C Spire changes everything. At the very least, Sprint will have increased its PCS A-F block Memphis spectrum holdings from just two non contiguous 10 MHz (5 MHz FDD) blocks to those two blocks plus another non contiguous 15 MHz (7.5 MHz FDD) block. A band 25 second carrier in Memphis is coming down the river. However, what I think -- and what other S4GRU staff members have independently concurred -- is that Sprint will swap this C Spire spectrum with AT&T. First, the spectrum lease application with C Spire is for a long term, de facto transfer lease. We could be wrong, but this lease smacks of a prelude to a full sale of C Spire spectrum licenses in Memphis to Sprint. In that case, Sprint would have options to rearrange its position in the PCS band plan. Primarily, both Sprint and AT&T would be advantaged to swap their PCS C1 and PCS C2 blocks for greater contiguity for both parties. Continue reading. Just as S4GRU documented in the Columbus, OH market a month ago, the PCS G block LTE 5 MHz FDD carrier probably would be redeployed as a 10 MHz FDD carrier bridged across portions of the PCS C block and PCS G block. That still would leave room in the potentially acquired spectrum for up to two additional CDMA2000 carriers, which would replace two of the three CDMA2000 carriers lost in the PCS D block or PCS B5 block, one of which would be refarmed for an LTE 5 MHz FDD carrier to ensure continued LTE access to any early band 25 devices that do not support LTE in anything but 5 MHz FDD -- the same process that we saw in Columbus. For illustration of the present, post transaction, and possible PCS spectrum future in Memphis, see this S4GRU graphic: Other possibilities exist for Sprint and AT&T spectrum "horse trading" in Memphis -- such as Sprint getting the AT&T PCS F block in exchange for effectively returning to AT&T the PCS B5 disaggregation that Sprint acquired from AT&T predecessor AT&TWS in a spectrum transaction over a decade ago. But those other spectrum transaction possibilities would be more disruptive to current service, so I and other S4GRU staff do not think those band plan rearrangements likely in the near future. To start to wrap matters up for now -- but probably to be continued later -- that Memphis BEA Lower 700 MHz A block is the proverbial elephant in the room. As noted earlier, that is band 12 spectrum. And Sprint now has plenty of band 12 compatible devices previously released, currently available, or upcoming. Indeed, band 12 is part of the CCA/RRPP device procurement plan. However, we do not expect Sprint to deploy band 12 in Memphis. The Lower 700 MHz A block is not immediately compatible with Sprint's Network Vision infrastructure, and it is currently encumbered by adjacent UHF broadcasting. If, as S4GRU expects, a full spectrum transfer ultimately results from this Memphis spectrum lease, then look for Sprint to flip the Lower 700 MHz A block license to T-Mobile, which has shown its motivation and money to get UHF channel 51 broadcasters relocated -- or paid to accept some adjacent channel interference. As an exchange for that low band spectrum -- which T-Mobile has now started to value so greatly -- Sprint could gain some of the excess T-Mobile-Metro PCS spectrum that S4GRU pointed out almost three years ago, shoring up Sprint's PCS A-F block 20 MHz holdings in the likes of important markets San Francisco, Atlanta, or Miami. To return to and conclude with C Spire, our article starter, we cannot precisely document what SMR 800 MHz, PCS 1900 MHz, and/or BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum C Spire will lease from Sprint. Because the FCC ULS frustratingly is out of commission for several more days. Cursory examination when the leases were still accessible online, though, did not indicate any major markets. Rather, this could be tied in with a CCA/RRPP agreement to expand Sprint coverage -- since C Spire infrastructure and handsets typically do not support band 26 nor band 41. So, the real prize in this transaction is spectrum in Memphis. My apologies to Marc Cohn for ham handedly paraphrasing his 1990s ballad, but it is also all too fitting…in those blue suede shoes... Leasing in Memphis -- leasing in Memphis Sprint's getting PCS on and off of Beale Leasing in Memphis -- leasing in Memphis How does that really make you feel? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK5YGWS5H84 Sources: FCC, Marc Cohn
  15. 19 points
  16. 19 points
    We don't allow political discussion at S4GRU for good reason. We're bordering on that now. And that illustrates how what Marcelo did was not smart. The tax bill ended up being highly partisan. So joining the bandwagon looks political and alienates millions of customers. Exactly why we insist on staying out.
  17. 19 points
    Hot off the Goldman Sachs Investor call with Marcelo Claure... Highlights at 35 mins into the call (11:05 Eastern) -Sprint will add 2000 Macro sites (no time frame given) - Will have EVERY cell site with 800, 1.9 and 2.5 (No time frame given) - Will deploy many thousands of mini macro and such in addition to the Macro sites. -Capex will be $5-7 billion this year and "At least that much next year or more".... Marcelo's thoughts were that now that Sprint is growth positive and cash positive (his words) Sprint can now invest heavily and expand it's footprint.
  18. 18 points
    Tim YuSprint 4G Rollout UpdatesJanuary 26, 2018 - 5:30 AM PST [Edited: 1/28/18 to include additional information on Samsung 4 port 800 MHz radio] [Edited: 2/2/18 for photograph addition of an Ericsson setup] The Triband Hexadecaport. The newest development of Sprint's recent network expenditures. This is a new triband antenna configuration now being deployed by Sprint that is able to do 4T4R MIMO on both 800 MHz and 1900 MHz in addition to 8T8R MIMO over 2.5 GHz. All in one single antenna. Previously, Sprint typically utilized two different antennas with one from Network Vision days being a hexport dual band unit that supports 800 MHz and 1900 MHz. While 2.5 GHz was an additional antenna and radio unit added on later. Some sites utilized (and may continue to utilize) another triband antenna model. This older generation triband antenna is a decaport (10 port) triband unit that support 4T4R on both 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz with 2T2R on 800 MHz. This meant that an 8T8R radio would have its capabilities decreased as a result of going from 8T8R to 4T4R. With the development and deployment of this new 16 port triband antenna, Sprint is now poised to offer 800 MHz 4 antenna transmit and receive diversity alongside 1900 MHz, while 2.5 GHz is able to fully utilize the capability of an 8T8R radio. This means that the full capability of Sprint's 800 MHz, 1900 MHz, and LTE Plus (2.5 GHz) network can be utilized from a single triband antenna panel. Removing the limitations of the previous go-to triband antenna model. Because of these limitations, Sprint did not deploy the previous triband antenna panel in a wide scale. Now they are likely to deploy these more commonly. In fact, we are already seeing this occur in Washington State, Pittsburgh, and other places en masse. Above: Samsung 4T4R 800 MHz setup via two 800 MHz RRH-C2, 4T4R 1900 MHz RRH-P4 , & 8T8R 2.5 GHz RRH-V3 Photograph Source: Josh (ingenium) Currently, this type of setup has been found in Samsung vendor regions with two individual 2T2R 800 MHz RRUs to achieve 4T4R MIMO. Samsung and Sprint has a new 4 port 4T4R 800 MHz RRU that will be able to do the job of two existing 2T2R 800 MHz RRUs that will be deployed alongside this new type of antenna. This new Samsung 4 port low frequency radio is also available in Band 13 750 MHz for deployment in the Puerto Rico market due to the Sprint Open Mobile deal. Photograph Source: Chris92 Ericsson Setup Source: mdob07 This type of setup is yet to be seen in Ericsson or Nokia - Alcatel-Lucent territory. If you discover these in other vendor regions, be sure to post about it! ****If you're in Ericsson or Nokia / former Alcatel-lucent territory then replace the Samsung radios with the relevant Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent CDMA / LTE and Ericsson radios depending on region.***
  19. 18 points
    . by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 11:40 AM MDT Back in December, S4GRU brought to you news that Sprint was opening up their network for Apple iPhone devices from other networks to be brought in and used on theirs. BYOD - Bring Your Own Device. Or, as Sprint is calling it, BYOAD...Bring Your Own Apple Device. However, just before it could go into effect, Sprint pulled the program and the plan was put on hold. Well, it's back! BYOAD lauches tomorrow, March 13th. Sprint is opening this up to unlocked models of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini Retina and iPad Mini 3. The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c Verizon models are also eligible. The iPhone 5s/5c AT&T and Tmo model have CDMA disabled and thus are not eligible. BYOAD can be used with any Sprint rate plan, except for the Cut Your Rate in Half. Some special terms and conditions apply. The graphic below explains them. When we reported last December, it did not include any iPhone 5s or 5c models. The addition of the Verizon models is new to the plan. We assume it will be allowed for existing account holders as well as those opening new accounts, as there is no mention of that limitation. However, the biggest limitation will be Sprint Spark compatibility, as Apple devices for other providers tend to not support LTE Band 41. Sprint has been at a disadvantage in not allowing unlocked compatible devices on their network. AT&T and T-Mobile both allow customers to bring in a device from other providers if they are compatible and unlocked. Although most devices from Sprint's competitors are not compatible with the Sprint network, there are some notable exceptions. Now we just look forward to the time when most devices can be brought into the Sprint network.
  20. 18 points
    by Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 08:51 AM MDT Mid summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere, and that means the harvest of fall flagship handsets is just getting underway. (The exception are Apples, which are planted and picked all in one afternoon in September.) The past two weeks brought our first crop. A new authorization for a Motorola device in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database arrived yesterday. Just about in time for Motorola's expected August/September launch of its flagship (read: Moto X) devices. Prior to that, S4GRU staff discovered a Motorola device filing last week with FCC ID IHDT56UC2, approved for LTE bands 2/4/5/7/12/17/25/29/41 in addition to the standard W-CDMA and GSM bands. Quick staff analysis of the filing lead to the conclusion that it was a either a fully unlocked version or a T-Mobile variant -- due to onboard VoWi-Fi and intra band band 4 carrier aggregation, both of which T-Mobile is pushing hard. But other tech media discovered and wrote articles on the handset filing -- with some speculating that it was for Sprint as well, due to the inclusion of LTE bands 25/41. Did they overlook that band 26 and any CDMA2000 capability were absent? We know very well that Sprint devices must have LTE bands 25/26/41 and CDMA2000 band classes 0/1/10 at the minimum. So, we waited with watchful eye for any new authorizations from Motorola, expecting a Sprint variant soon. Indeed, Motorola delivered FCC ID IHDT56UC1. Fully Sprint CCA/RRPP and VZW/AT&T/T-Mobile compatible This handset is fully certified for the Sprint network and those of its CCA/RRPP partners. It also completely covers VZW and T-Mobile network capabilities, mostly for AT&T, too, though lacking Ma Bell's emerging LTE bands 29/30. For a full rundown, it supports: LTE bands: 2 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 12 / 13 / 17 / 25 / 26 / 41 CDMA Band Class: 0 / 1 / 10 W-CDMA Band: 2 / 4 / 5 GSM: 850 / 1900 So, Sprint Spark? Got it. VZW XLTE? Got it. T-Mobile band 12? Got it. This handset does almost everything -- including carrier aggregation. Sprint Band 41 Carrier Aggregation Capable The device is a category 6 UE and supports all of the myriad FDD carrier aggregation combos present in the unlocked or T-Mobile variant detailed earlier. But this variant also includes Sprint's LTE Advanced implementation of TDD carrier aggregation on band 41 -- aka 2x CA band 41 or B41+B41. For reference, S4GRU confirmed activation of carrier aggregation and wrote about it a few weeks ago. Now, this is the seventh announced device to support Sprint's band 41 carrier aggregation, joining the ranks of the Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, HTC One M9, LG G Flex 2, and LG G4. Edit: There may be issues with MXPE's B41 carrier aggregation compatibility with the Sprint Network. To wrap things up, I am not conclusively declaring that this is the 2015 Moto X nor that it is definitively headed to Sprint postpaid -- we all know what happened with the Sprint variant 2014 Moto X. But the band 41 carrier aggregation support screams Sprint and the FCC authorization timing comes spot on for an August/September device launch, as historically has been the time when Motorola has launched its flagship devices. So, you be the judge... Source: FCC
  21. 18 points
    by Josh McDaniel, Tim Yu, and Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - 11:50 PM MST Update: Further inspection of the FCC OET authorization filings has shown that while Samsung will produce only one "US" hardware variant each for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, it still will delineate operator specific "V," "A," "T," "P," and "R4" variants via firmware. That firmware on the Sprint "P" variant, for example, will enable CCA/RRPP compliant bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 but disable VZW band 13, AT&T bands 29/30, and VoLTE. Similar segmentation applies to the other domestic variants, such as the AT&T "A" variant and T-Mobile "T" variant, both of which disable CDMA2000 and Sprint bands 25/26/41. Thus, the single SKU aspect for the "US" hardware variants of the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge will be limited to their respective FCC IDs. At the retail and end user levels, separate SKUs and model numbers still will exist for the operator specific airlink/band firmware packages. S4GRU hopes, however, that Samsung will use this consolidated hardware platform now as means also to sell unlocked BYOD versions of both handsets that will have full airlink/band firmware across all domestic operators. Per Samsung Galaxy astronomy, the "V" suffix has been for VZW, the "A" suffix for AT&T, the "T" suffix for T-Mobile, the "P" suffix for Sprint, and the "R4" suffix for regional operators. But what does the "US" suffix mean for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge? Both handsets A3LSMG930US and A3LSMG935US bearing the "US" suffix in their model numbers were intentionally/unintentionally outed today in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database -- weeks in advance of their supposed official reveals at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month. Okay, the seventh generation of Samsung Galaxy handsets is a big deal. That said, what is so special about these two device authorizations? Well, these two authorization filings with the FCC cover the entire gamut of supported LTE bands for every single US operator -- and include downlink three carrier aggregation support. Even before Apple, Samsung appears on the verge of single SKU handsets for the US. VZW band 13. Sure. AT&T bands 29 and 30. Right on. T-Mobile band 12. Absolutely. Sprint bands 25, 26, and 41. Positively. Carrier aggregation. Yup. Furthermore, as both Samsung handsets support CDMA2000, that is strong indication Samsung has reversed course from the the sixth generation of Samsung Galaxy handsets and included Qualcomm baseband modems in all domestic handsets. Almost assuredly, the chip of choice is the Snapdragon X12 LTE modem. That detail, though, is not yet available. On a similar count, tested RF ERP/EIRP figures are beyond the purview of this teaser. However, S4GRU may follow up later on all of the above. In the meantime, here are the nitty gritty Galaxy S7 domestic airlink specs. The FCC filings did not disclose -- nor are they required to disclose -- international airlink support. Samsung Galaxy S7 GSM / GPRS / EDGE: 850 / 1900 W-CDMA Band: 2 / 4 / 5 CDMA Band Class: 0 / 1 / 10 LTE Band: 2 / 4 / 5 / 12 / 13 / 25 / 26 / 29 (downlink only) / 30 / 41 LTE Carrier Aggregation: 2xCA 2+4 / 2+5/ 2+12 / 2+13 / 2+29 / 2+30 4+2 / 4+4 / 4+5 / 4+12 / 4+13 / 4+29 / 4+30 5+2 / 5+4 / 5+30 / 12+2 / 12+4 / 12+30 13+2 / 13+4 25+25 30+2 / 30+4 / 30+5 / 30+12 / 30+29 41+41 3xCA 2+4+12 / 2+4+13 / 2+5+30 / 2+12+30 / 2+29+30 4+2+12 / 4+2+13 / 4+4+12 / 4+5+13 / 4+5+12 / 4+5+30 / 4+12+30 / 4+29+30 5+2+30 12+4+2 / 13+2+4 30+2 +5 / 30+2+12 / 30+2+29 / 30+4+5 / 30+4+12 / 30+4+29 41+41+41 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge GSM / GPRS / EDGE: 850 / 1900 W-CDMA Band: 2 / 4 / 5 CDMA Band Class: 0 / 1 / 10 LTE Band: 2 / 4 / 5 / 12 / 13 / 25 / 26 / 29 (downlink only) / 30 / 41 LTE Carrier Aggregation: 2xCA 2+4 / 2+5 / 2+12 / 2+ 13 / 2+29 / 2+30 4+2 / 4+4 / 4+5 / 4+12 / 4+13 / 4+29 / 4+30 5+2 / 5+4 / 5+30 / 12+2 / 12+4 / 12+30 13+2 / 13+4 25+25 30+2 / 30+4 / 30+5 / 30+ 12 / 30+29 41+41 3xCA 2+4+12 / 2+4+13 / 2+5+30 / 2+12+30 / 2+29+30 4+2+12/ 4+2+13 / 4+4+12 / 4+5+13/ 4+5+12 / 4+5+30 / 4+12+30 / 4+29+30 5+2+30 12+4+2 / 13+2+4 30+2 +5 / 30+2+12 / 30+2+29 / 30+4+5 / 30+4+12 / 30+4+29 41+41+41 Note in bold text the Sprint relevant 2x CA combinations each for band 25 and band 41, then 3x CA combinations for band 41. One SKU, one "US" device variant for all in the US, just like or better than iPhone and Nexus? By all appearances, yes. And while S4GRU is a Sprint centric blog and web site, this Samsung development has ramifications for millions of VZW, AT&T, T-Mobile, USCC, et al., users, too. You heard it here first -- at S4GRU. Sources: FCC
  22. 18 points
  23. 17 points
  24. 17 points
    by Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, March 4, 2016 - 8:25 AM MST A little over two weeks ago, S4GRU published an article detailing a multi-market PCS 1900 MHz swap between Sprint and AT&T that increased spectrum contiguity for both operators in several markets. In that article, we mentioned how that spectrum swap might be the first of many, as there are numerous other markets in which Sprint and other licensees could mutually benefit by realigning disparate spectrum holdings into larger contiguous stretches for more efficient LTE spectrum utilization. And late last week, that expectation came to the fore. It was discovered that AT&T was not the only dance partner. Rather, T-Mobile and VZW also entered the fray, as Sprint and both operators had contemporaneously filed PCS spectrum assignment applications with the FCC. Results of the Latest Spectrum Swap As seen in the embedded screenshot, Sprint primarily is targeting additional spectrum in the PCS C block. Detailed in our last article, the PCS C block is adjacent to the PCS G block in which Sprint's existing 5 MHz FDD Band 25 LTE carrier is deployed. These swaps pave the way in a greater number of markets for expansion from that 5 MHz FDD carrier to a 10-15-20 MHz FDD carrier and subsequent higher maximum speeds in Band 25. In total, about 50 million POPs so far will be affected by the spectrum transactions in these pending agreements among Sprint and AT&T, T-Mobile, and VZW. Furthermore, this may not be where the story ends. Once the FCC approves these applications, other PCS spectrum realignment among the big four operators may follow. Sprint also may pursue spectrum deals with smaller operators. Stay tuned. S4GRU will have the scoop. Source: FCC (VZW), FCC (T-Mobile), S4GRU (AT&T), S4GRU Spreadsheet
  25. 17 points
    I can confirm that Sprint is targeting August for rolling out Tmo roaming. Robert
  26. 17 points
    I would do the New T-Mobile initially because I would be excited to watch the progress. And since I am already a Tmo customer, it would just happen by default. However, if they started jacking up pricing and VZW or AT&T were less expensive, I would consider a switch. I do not have any unnatural loyalty to the new Sprint/T-Mobile merged company. They will have to keep at it to keep my business in the long run. Robert
  27. 17 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, May 8, 2015 - 12:15 PM MDT Update: A week after the Sprint variant LG G4 original authorization documents were released at the FCC OET and S4GRU published this RF performance article, a Class II Permissive Change filing was added to the G4's docket. In writing the article last week, we did not detect anything amiss with the original filing, so this represents an optional change, which the filing discloses as hardware modification affecting the main antenna. Interestingly, none of the previous antenna gain figures have been altered, but the ERP/EIRP figures have increased or decreased. See the smoothed and averaged differences below: Band class 0: -1 dB Band class 10: -2 dB Band 4: -3 dB Band 5: -2 dB Band 12: -2 dB Band 26: -2 dB Band 41: +2 dB So, you win some, you lose some. Overall, the Sprint variant G4 has become weaker in tested RF performance. Those negative differences, however, are limited mostly to lower frequencies in the 700-1700 MHz range. The 1900 MHz range is unaffected, and the 2600 MHz range is increased. The other win is that a Class II filing before a device is released generally means that release is imminent. Look for the G4 on shelves and online soon. Yes, I know it is no longer May 4th. And we are not in a Samsung Galaxy far, far away. But this is episode IV in the LG G handset series, just four days removed from May 4th. That should be enough of the number four to satisfy anyone. Even if this isn't the Motorola Droid you're looking for, is the LG G4 a new hope for a flagship Sprint handset this spring? S4GRU staff has been watching the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization database over the past week as different G4 variants were revealed. The VZW variant came earlier in the week, and the Sprint variant ZNFLS991 documents were uploaded yesterday. Of course, we are going to write an article about it, so let us get started. Right away, the G4 adheres to what has become the standard Sprint variant configuration: tri band LTE, non SVLTE, single RF path with e/CSFB. Additionally, it covers the CCA/RRPP LTE bands. And it was tested for domestic GSM/W-CDMA bands -- phone unlockers rejoice. Finally, it does officially support downlink carrier aggregation as its lone Release 10 feature. More on CA later. Next, it is fairly well known and somewhat controversial that the G4 opted not for the top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 but for the lesser Snapdragon 808, taking some performance hits in graphics and memory departments, for example. S4GRU does not involve itself in that debate -- that is not the place of this cellular RF focused article. But the chipset choice is relevant because both the Snapdragon 808 and Snapdragon 810 incorporate the same Category 9 X10 LTE baseband on die. So, rest assured, the choice of the Snapdragon 808 does not lessen any RF capabilities. On that topic, if you need a refresher on the new Qualcomm LTE baseband naming/numbering scheme, see this sidebar from our earlier article on the HTC One M9 and Samsung Galaxy S6: Back to discussion of CA support, we have stated previously that FCC OET authorization filings are not required to disclose downlink CA -- because that is only reception, not transmission. But the G4 filing does include an explicit attestation letter, stating its inclusion of downlink CA. What the G4 filing does not divulge is specifically 2x or 3x downlink CA support in band 41. For various reasons, S4GRU believes the former, that the G4 is capable of band 41 2x CA. First, the Snapdragon X10 LTE baseband natively supports up to 60 MHz of 3x downlink CA. However, that requires some help. An RF transceiver sits ahead of the baseband, and presently, the Qualcomm WTR3925 can handle 2x CA -- but 3x CA necessitates the inclusion of a second transceiver. See this excerpt from an AnandTech article on the new Snapdragon chipsets: Moreover, the other G4 variants that support CA are explicitly limited to 2x CA, suggesting that all variants are using the single WTR3925 transceiver. This is all educated conjecture, barring a teardown of the Sprint variant that probably will never happen. But if you are waiting on 3x CA, that likely will require a next generation Qualcomm transceiver to do 3x CA all in one. Finally, straight from the horse's mouth, Sprint CTO Stephen Bye stated the following in a recent FierceWireless article: Now, honestly, most read our FCC OET authorization articles for ERP/EIRP figures and analysis. So, without further ado, here are the numbers: Band class 0: 22 dBm Band class 1: 26 dBm Band class 10: 23 dBm Band 2: 25 dBm Band 4: 24 dBm Band 5: 22 dBm Band 12: 17 dBm Band 25: 25 dBm Band 26: 22 dBm Band 41: 23 dBm For reference, the above figures represent our best averaged and rounded estimates of max uplink ERP/EIRP -- with uniquely Sprint frequencies receiving heavier weighting, if possible, in band class 10, band 25, and band 26. Of course, the usual disclaimers about lab testing versus real world performance apply. As for analysis, max RF output looks quite healthy across the board, comparing very favorably with that of the One M9 and soundly thrashing that of the disappointing Galaxy S6. In particular, the power output for CDMA2000 band classes is a good 3 dB higher than most. Note, if you are using the smart cover for wireless charging, though, ERP/EIRP is affected roughly -1 dB across the board. I am not a fan of wireless charging because of the power inefficiency involved, but the RF loss from the smart cover on the G4 appears considerably less than what we have seen from some previous handsets. If there is any caveat about the G4's RF capabilities, that would be its antenna gain, broken down by frequency range as follows: 700 MHz: -5.9 dBi 800 MHz: -7.1 dBi 1700 MHz: -5.2 dBi 1900 MHz: -3.5 dBi 2600 MHz: 1.7 dBi Except for 2600 MHz, all are negative, significantly negative. And for comparison, again except for 2600 MHz, the VZW variant antenna gain in all bands tracks about 3 dB higher. The head scratcher, however, is that the lab performance between the two variants is remarkably similar, despite the differences in antenna gain. We have seen something like this before -- an LG handset that showed strong lab power output yet weak real world performance. Remember the LG Viper? That is the challenge in interpreting lab results. Low output always indicates weak performance. However, high output can be a mixed bag. But LG has a pretty good Sprint track record since the Viper, as the LG Optimus G, LG G2, and LG G3 were all at least average to good in the real world. And the LG manufactured Nexus 5 was practically a Jedi knight for its RF performance at the time. In the end, only many trials on Dagobah will tell if the G4 lives up to its powerful promise. Use the 4th, LG, use the 4th. Source: FCC, AnandTech, FierceWireless
  28. 17 points
    by Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, April 8, 2016 - 3:40 PM MDT Over the past week, S4GRU members in multiple Sprint markets have discovered new EARFCNs and corresponding GCI endings that identify new Band 41 LTE carriers. The EARFCN is the center frequency of an LTE carrier that, along with the carrier bandwidth, identifies the carrier placement and occupied spectrum. As Sprint is doing intraband contiguous/adjacent carrier aggregation -- 20 MHz TDD Band 41 carriers are lined up right next to one another with no gaps -- Band 41 EARFCNs are highly predictable in a given market by knowing the location of at least one carrier. Say the ever popular EARFCN 40978 is the first carrier. You add 198 (19.8 MHz) to it to get EARFCN 41176, which is the second Band 41 carrier. Thus, it stands to reason if you add 198 to that EARFCN, you will get the third Band 41 carrier so 41176 + 198 = 41374, the EARFCN for the third Band 41 carrier. Or, in some other markets, 41078 is the first Band 41 carrier. In this case, it goes like this: 41078 + 198 = 41276 + 198 = 41474 Alternatively, say a market has EARFCNs 40056 and 40254. Adding 198 would bring us to EARFCN 40452, but that is not possible due to the BRS/EBS 2500-2600 MHz band plan -- there are spectrum gaps around 2570 MHz and 2610 MHz that Sprint cannot utilize. See the band plan: Thus, in the case of EARFCNs 40056 and 40254, not addition, but use subtraction: 40056 - 198 = 39858, which would be the third Band 41 carrier. The GCI is the unique cell sector identifier of a LTE carrier. Generally speaking, Sprint's GCI patterns are standardized market by market and network wide, making for an easy method to identify each LTE carrier within a given band. In the case of Band 41, GCIs ending in 00/01/02 (Samsung) or x1/x2/x3 (ALU/NSN) indicate a connection to the original and first Band 41 carrier. GCIs ending in 03/04/05 (STA) or x9/xA/xB (ALU/NSN) denote the second Band 41 carrier. It stands to reason that -- if this second carrier pattern were to continue to the third Band 41 carrier in Samsung markets -- we would expect to see GCIs possibly ending in 06/07/08. Long story short, this theory is supported by evidence. See below SignalCheck Pro logs and numerous in app screenshots: This log is from my Nexus 5x. I traveled for a hour around Sacramento, searching for the third Band 41 carrier. Note the GCI endings for the Sprint Band 41 entries: The following is from site member bmoses in Des Moines. Note the 07 GCI ending and EARFCN: Below is from a S4GRU member in the Colorado market: One more from the Cincinnati, Ohio Market: The following is from yours truly in Sacramento: And these below are from Fremont, CA, near San Jose: See those EARFCNs and GCI endings? Look at the calculations from the top of this PSA. Everything is as we would have predicted for a third carrier. With the end of the WiMAX injunction and the decomissioning of the last active Clearwire WiMAX markets that held up huge swaths of leased EBS and licensed BRS spectrum, Sprint finally has the capability to show off its deep spectrum pockets in numerous markets. This has been long awaited and should definitely give a huge boost to Sprint data speeds in numerous markets where spectrum for additional Band 41 carriers now is available. Of course, there still is the issue of actually connecting to and using this third Band 41 carrier. From firsthand reports and personal use, this third Band 41 carrier is not currently carrier aggregation enabled. Thus, 2x/3x CA devices may not connect to it to use data right now. By default, these devices will have CA enabled, causing them to utilize only the first and second carriers that they can aggregate. For the time being, in order to reliably connect to this third carrier, a non CA triband device or a 2x/3x CA setting disabled triband device may be required. Regardless, this appears to be just a minor issue from the initial rollouts that should be resolved soon. Source: S4GRU member reports
  29. 17 points
    It is more insightful than these tend to be. -$5-6 billion may be on the low side on CapEx going forward. -Large push back towards traditional towers. -Going back to the 25/26/41 on every macro tower where possible plan.
  30. 17 points
    Oh gosh, not this again. I am more against this than I was before. Tmo and Sprint are getting more competitive and gaining market share against the Duopoly. Verizon is on their feet, having to actually compete. The wireless market has never been better for the American consumer. I'm willing to sit back and see what comes of this, as twospirits recommends, but I think the status quo is right where we need to be nationally with wireless. The path forward looks good for Tmo and Sprint. Prices will go up if they are allowed to merge. They are trying to do it now. It is the 4th competitor, the odd duck out, that pressures the market. Three roughly equal sized competitors just won't pressure much. Mark my words!
  31. 16 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, March 5, 2015 - 12:15 PM MST I got my first real smartphone. Bought it at the five and dime. Browsed S4GRU 'til my fingers bled. Was the summer of 6&9. Spring has not quite yet sprung for a few more weeks. But with the annual Mobile World Congress just wrapping up today in Barcelona, new smartphones that likely will dominate the mobile landscape through most of the summer are starting to sprout. Germinating at the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) over the past few days have been authorization filings for the Sprint variants of the Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and HTC One M9. Get ready for the summer of 6&9. S4GRU started a tradition of FCC OET authorization articles right around this time in 2012 with the debut of Sprint's first LTE devices. So, to celebrate the third birthday in our long running series, let us take a look at the cellular RF capabilities of this latest threesome of Samsung Galaxy and HTC One handsets. To begin, all three devices follow what has been for the past 18 months the standard Sprint variant configuration: tri band LTE, non SVLTE, single RF path with e/CSFB. No surprises there. On top of Sprint tri band LTE, the three handsets also cover the CCA/RRPP LTE bands -- with one possible caveat for the One M9. More details on that later. As an aside, Qualcomm is changing up its baseband modem branding and numbering schemes. Previously, branding was Gobi and numbering was, to use one example, MDM9625 for standalone modem chipsets. Then, many Snapdragon processor chipsets also included the same modems on die -- a la the Snapdragon 800, aka MSM8974, which integrated the same stack as in the standalone MDM9625. Branding is now changing universally to Snapdragon and numbering, to use just one example again, will follow the X10 LTE pattern. That last example is the Snapdragon 810's brand new LTE category 9 modem, which has no standalone modem precursor. But other rebranded and renumbered examples with their standalone precursors include the Snapdragon X5 LTE (MDM9625), Snapdragon X7 LTE (MDM9635), and Snapdragon X12 LTE (MDM9645). That Qualcomm background is useful as we will start the rundown with the One M9, which incorporates the Snapdragon 810 with X10 LTE chipset. To cut straight to the chase, below are the tested ERP/EIRP figures: Band class 0: 20 dBm Band class 1: 25 dBm Band class 10: 20 dBm Band 2: 25 dBm Band 4: 23 dBm Band 12: 18 dBm Band 25: 25 dBm Band 26: 17 dBm Band 41: 23 dBm For reference, and this will pertain to the ERP/EIRP figures cited later for the Samsung devices, too, the above figures represent our best averaged and rounded estimates of max uplink ERP/EIRP -- with uniquely Sprint frequencies receiving heavier weighting in band class 10, band 25, and band 26. Of course, the usual disclaimers about lab testing versus real world performance apply. Now, to provide some analysis, RF output looks relatively healthy, somewhere in the better than average range. And it generally, albeit minimally trumps that of its HTC One M8 predecessor -- see our S4GRU article from last year. The aforementioned caveat about CCA/RRPP bands is that the FCC OET filing for the One M9 does not include separate testing of band 5. Now, that may not indicate omission of band 5 -- because band 26 is a superset of all band 5 frequencies. But we cannot guarantee that the One M9 will attach to band 5 roaming networks without MFBI for band 26. Two other omissions are worthy of note. First, the FCC OET documents offer no mention of band 41 carrier aggregation capabilities. This may or may not be cause for concern. Current carrier aggregation is downlink reception only, not uplink transmission. And FCC OET testing is just the opposite -- uplink transmission only, not downlink reception. As such, the testing is not required to include carrier aggregation. We do know that the Snapdragon 810 with X10 LTE supports up to 3x 20 MHz FDD/TDD carrier aggregation, so we expect that 2x or 3x band 41 carrier aggregation is on board. S4GRU will follow up if more info becomes available. Second, the One M9 was not tested, thus is not authorized for domestic GSM/W-CDMA bands. Rabid phone unlockers under the new Sprint domestic unlocking policy, consider yourselves forewarned. Finally, the One M9 docs suggest VoLTE support at launch. But Sprint has no established timeline for VoLTE, so take that with a grain of salt. It could be just a latent capability. Moving on to the galactic federation, Samsung has split its Galaxy S6 offerings in two this year, offering a separate Galaxy S6 Edge as a step up version. With one possible exception, both Galaxy S6 handsets have the same RF capabilities. However, their ERP/EIRP figures are not identical, so they are broken out separately below: Samsung Galaxy S6: Band class 0: 17 dBm Band class 1: 23 dBm Band class 10: 17 dBm Band 2: 22 dBm Band 4: 23 dBm Band 5: 16 dBm Band 12: 21-17 dBm (declining with increasing carrier bandwidth) Band 25: 22 dBm Band 26: 16 dBm Band 41: 16 dBm Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge: Band class 0: 18 dBm Band class 1: 22 dBm Band class 10: 18 dBm Band 2: 22 dBm Band 4: 24 dBm Band 5: 17 dBm Band 12: 17 dBm Band 25: 22 dBm Band 26: 17 dBm Band 41: 19-11 dBm (declining with decreasing center frequency) As for analysis, both Galaxy S6 variants are about average -- with the Galaxy S6 Edge holding generally a 1 dB "edge," pun intended. Neither, though, holds up to the tested RF output of the One M9. Some surmise that Samsung's much debated shift in handset materials this year from largely cheap feeling plastic to more premium metal and glass has had a detrimental effect on RF design and performance. We cannot jump to that conclusion, but the RF falloff does become even more apparent in comparison to last year's Samsung Galaxy S5 -- again, see our article. In particular, band 41 EIRP is disappointing. A higher frequency band should precipitate higher RF output. But that is not the case this year, as the band 41 uplink maximum for both Samsung handsets drops 4-7 dB below that of the One M9 and fully 6-9 dB below that of the Galaxy S5. Also, the band 41 extreme frequency differential in the Galaxy S6 Edge is disconcerting. It is up to 8 dB better in high BRS spectrum than in low EBS spectrum. Meanwhile, multiple band 41 center frequencies in BRS/EBS spectrum will vary from market to market, so performance will also vary. If using the Galaxy S6 Edge on band 41, you better hope for EARFCN 40978 or greater. Alright, that less than good news out of the way, let us move on to more positive things. The Samsung Galaxy S6 handsets are LTE category 6 -- with explicitly noted support for 2x band 41 carrier aggregation. More on that, too, later. They also have been tested and authorized for domestic GSM/W-CDMA bands, so unlocking in the future for use on other domestic operators may be possible. VoLTE, though, is noted as not supported out of the box. It is, however, on board other Galaxy S6 variants, thus could be added later with a Class II Permissive Change filing and potentially a software update. Now, back to LTE category 6. In addition to its material design change this year, Samsung has also broken lockstep with Qualcomm, choosing to forgo the 64 bit, octa core Snapdragon 810 processor in favor of its in house 64 bit, octa core Exynos 7420. S4GRU does not traffic in application processor chipset holy wars -- there are plenty of other sites for that. But this chipset change has other ramifications. Unlike the Snapdragon 810, the Exynos does not have a baseband modem on die. Thus, Samsung has had to include a separate modem chipset. And, unfortunately, the full identity of that modem remains a mystery. We know of another Samsung in house chipset -- the Exynos Modem 333 or SS333 -- that could provide the category 6 LTE connectivity, possibly even full 3GPP connectivity. However, for Sprint, that still leaves lingering 3GPP2 (CDMA2000). Is it provided by a second modem, meaning a third chipset? Could it be a reappearance of the notorious VIA Telecom CDMA2000 modem? S4GRU sincerely hopes not. Or maybe Qualcomm is still on board, not in the processor, but in its aforementioned Snapdragon X7 LTE (MDM9635) category 6 LTE standalone 3GPP/3GPP2 baseband, which supports the same 2x 20 MHz FDD/TDD carrier aggregation. Time will tell. Well, that is a wrap for this set. If you are young and restless with the Samsung Galaxy S6s and HTC One M9, will you wonder what went wrong? Or will the summer of 6&9 be the best days of your mobile life? Discuss in the comments. Sources: FCC, Bryan Adams
  32. 16 points
    by Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, September 25, 2015 - 5:44 PM MDT Update 2: S4GRU's technical editor here again. It is Monday, October 19, and today is the day. Many of the Nexus 5X first preorders started shipping this morning for delivery later this week. You also may have caught the Nexus 5X television commercial that Google ran multiple times during the NFL broadcasts yesterday. In light of the first handsets shipping today, S4GRU wants to publish a second update to this article, confirming the correct Sprint SIM card and covering fully the tested FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) ERP/EIRP RF figures, which recently received a Class II Permissive Change filing. As we speculated a few weeks ago, the correct Sprint SIM for the Nexus 5X is the same 4FF nano SIM as for the 2015 Moto X aka Style aka Pure Edition. It is the latest version Sprint CSIM, so network activation for both LTE and CDMA2000 will be via the SIM. The SIM can acquired for free at a Sprint corporate store with repair center or from Sprint International support online chat. As unlocked, third party handsets are still somewhat rarities on Sprint, some S4GRU users have reported difficulties in obtaining the correct SIM from those official Sprint channels. Your mileage may vary. If you prefer to purchase the correct SIM yourself, you typically can do so at Best Buy Mobile. More detailed info about SIM procurement is available in our newly opened Nexus 5X user thread. In our original publication of this article almost a month ago, I included a sidebar with some brief discussion of RF power output. It hit just the highlights. As the Nexus 5 still to this day has been known for its solid RF performance on the Sprint network, S4GRU wanted to do a full LTE ERP/EIRP rundown of its Nexus 5X younger sibling in this update. This is especially true in light of the aforementioned Class II filing -- disclosing some "Antenna/PCB adjustments" to the Nexus 5X -- subsequent to the original filing and our original publication. Interestingly, none of the peak antenna gain figures have changed, but perhaps small tweaks below the peak gain or in the body of the handset appear to have affected ERP/EIRP slightly. For easy readability, I have put together a table to compare ERP/EIRP and antenna gain across the original filing and the Class II filing. See below: All of the usual disclaimers about lab testing versus real world performance and uplink versus downlink apply. The figures represent my best averaged and rounded estimates of maximum uplink ERP/EIRP test results provided to the FCC OET in the authorization filings for the device. My previous RF analysis in the originally published article below stands. The Nexus 5X is relatively powerful in low and mid band spectrum, in which we like to see at least 17-18 dBm and 22-23 dBm, respectively. But it is not quite as powerful as we would hope in high band spectrum, which ideally should be 23 dBm or greater. However, the physical changes that warranted the Class II filing do appear to have reduced low and mid band output by a subtle degree -- possibly in exchange for higher and more consistent output in band 41. The RF figures seem to suggest that. To conclude, if you have ordered the Nexus 5X, watch your mailboxes and doorsteps this week. In the meantime, you can watch the Nexus 5X television commercial on YouTube. Update: S4GRU's technical editor here. We now have the full Nexus 5X tech specs released from Google, thus can comment on a few issues not disclosed in the FCC OET authorization filings last week. Namely, international band support and SIM card form factor. In addition to the tested domestic bands listed below, the Nexus 5X also supports the following international bands: GSM 900/1800 W-CDMA band 1/8 LTE band 1/3/20 For those unfamiliar, band 1 is IMT 1900+2100 MHz, band 3 is DCS 1800 MHz, band 8 is GSM 900 MHz (or what SoftBank calls the "Platinum Band"), and band 20 is EU Digital Dividend 800 MHz. With those band capabilities, the Nexus 5X will be usable on LTE, W-CDMA, or at least GSM in almost every country on the planet -- though that may require a local SIM card. Speaking of SIM cards -- which are technically UICC now, but most still call them the colloquial SIM -- the Nexus 5X as expected has a 4FF nano SIM slot. Your 3FF micro SIM from the Nexus 5, for example, will not fit. From a Sprint perspective, since S4GRU is primarily a Sprint focused educational site, this does raise another issue. USIM vs CSIM. For activation and network authentication, USIM is 3GPP only (i.e. LTE/W-CDMA/GSM), while CSIM also incorporates 3GPP2 (i.e. CDMA2000). So, on Sprint, a handset that requires a USIM needs a separate CDMA2000 activation process, but a handset that requires a CSIM activates both LTE and CDMA2000 via the SIM. At this point, we do not have any info from LG, Google, or Sprint whether the Nexus 5X will require a USIM or CSIM for activation on Sprint. My educated guess is a CSIM -- just like the 2015 Moto X aka Style aka Pure Edition a few weeks ago. But that remains to be seen. Expect some uncertainty for the first few days, but rest assured, it will all get sorted out shortly. And S4GRU will be here to provide information as it emerges. If warranted, we may write another update to this article. You also can follow along in The Forums in our Nexus 5X thread. Original article: Two years ago, on a September day forever historic for S4GRU, we discovered and announced to the world the then unrevealed 2013 LG Nexus 5, as its FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization documents made a surprise reappearance, and we noted that the backplate photos included in the filings matched up remarkably well with recent images of a mystery device being used at Google. Indeed, we proved to be right about the LG-D820 and got a nice scoop on the rest of the tech press. Today, S4GRU comes forth to herald what appears to be the long anticipated successor to the 2013 Nexus 5. The authorization filings for the LG-H790 have been uploaded late today in the FCC OET database. For the write up on the Nexus 6P, click here. Dimensions: Overall (Length x Width): 146.9 mm x 72.5 mm Overall Diagonal 159 mm Display Diagonal: 133 mm Supported Domestic Airlink Technologies: GSM 850 / 1900 W-CDMA Band 2 / 4 / 5 CDMA2000 Band Class 0 / 1 / 10 LTE Band 2 / 4 / 5 / 7 / 12 / 13 / 17 / 25 / 26 / 29 (Rx only) / 41 A Category 6 UE with support for 2x carrier aggregation on the downlink. And the supported Carrier Aggregation profiles are as listed (Band #+Band #): Inter band: 2+13 4+13 13+2 13+4 2+4 4+2 2+17 17+2 4+17 17+4 2+29 4+29 2+5 5+2 4+5 5+4 2+12 12+2 4+12 12+4 4+7 7+4 Intra band: 2+2 4+4 41+41 Carrier aggregation on Verizon? Check. Carrier Aggregation on ATT? Check. Carrier Aggregation on T-Mobile? Check. Carrier Aggregation on Sprint? Yup! To follow up with some brief RF analysis, let us bring in S4GRU's technical editor... This expected Nexus 5X is clearly tuned for low and mid band spectrum. That would be primarily Cellular 850 MHz, SMR 800 MHz, PCS 1900 MHz, and AWS-1 1700+2100 MHz. For Sprint purposes, only PCS and SMR are relevant, comprising the CDMA2000 band classes 1 and 10, the LTE bands 25 and 26, respectively. Since LTE is the going concern, know that band 25 maximum EIRP at 26 dBm is excellent, the same for band 26 maximum ERP at 23 dBm. Unfortunately, high band spectrum does not fare quite as well. The high band antenna covering BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum has a disappointingly low gain of -2.6 dBi. And that seems to be reflected in the band 41 maximum EIRP of 19 dBm, which is low to average, at best. As this almost obviously is the Nexus 5X -- that we know will be a very interesting device to our readership -- we may do a complete RF testing analysis article down the road. But S4GRU wanted to get the highlights out to everyone right away. With Google's September 29 reveal event just four days away, this FCC OET authorization comes right on time. The recent Amazon India leak of the Nexus 5X indicated an identification of LG-H791, and now we have an LG-H790. The 2013 Nexus 5 North American variant was LG-D820 and international model was LG-D821, so the number correlation is there. Should S4GRU be 5X certain that the LG-H790 is the 2015 Nexus 5X? Our track record on these matters is established. But we will let you decide... FCC: ZNFH790
  33. 16 points
    I just got my Magic Box (ordered it 2 days ago) and I have band 41 in my apt now! I used to pull 5-8 down on band 25 but now I’m averaging 42 down on band 41 i live in an apartment so my neighbors with Sprint will benefit too!
  34. 16 points
    Sprint has passed AT&T in average performance, all in a year they were largely distracted by a merger. Yet, they are awful. Can't be trusted. Some act like it's getting worse and worse. Sprint cannot make some people happy, no matter what. If they aren't number one, they aren't anything. But I swear, when they make it to number one in performance, the haters will complain about coverage. They will have to be number one in everything. And then it will be that they hate old ladies, or something. They are committing more money than ever before. And already spending more money than in the past few years. They already are more active than before in the planning and early work. More bidding, more contract issued. New equipment is already hitting the streets. Small cells popping up all over and more in planning. And now they are talking about a significant macro site development too. This is nothing like the past. And Sprint is still getting better and better. And now that they are deploying B26 in my market, I will probably be coming back to Sprint again soon.
  35. 16 points
    S4GRU Member in Indianapolis market found 2xCA and just hit 119Mbps.
  36. 15 points
    Tim YuSprint 4G Rollout UpdatesJanuary 12, 2018 - 5:30 PM PST "New year, new me. Am I right?" ~ signed Samsung Samsung has decided that the beginning of the new year is a great time to change. Samsung has decided its newest flagship Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus devices must meet with the FCC OET for certification far earlier than usual. With ever watchful and prying eyes, S4GRU staff discovered the twin filings for two devices with FCC IDs of A3LSMG960U and A3LSMG965U which follows the previous Samsung numeration of the Galaxy S8 / 8+ (950u/955u) and Galaxy S7 (930u/935u) respectively. In addition, previous leaks for purported international Galaxy S9 variant have captured the ID of 960F and 965F respectively. To keep this short and simple, the Galaxy S9, to date, is the most technologically powerful device we've seen at least for Sprint and possibly other entities and the following technical specifications should demonstrate why. CDMA BC: 0 / 1 / 10 GSM: 850 / 1900 WCDMA Bands: 2, 4 , 5 LTE Band: 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 17, 25 , 26 , 29, 30, 38, 41, 66, 71 Downlink Carrier Aggregation (DL CA) 5xB41 (up to 5 B41 carriers aggregated) B25+41CA (up to 2 B41 carriers - 3 total carriers aggregated ) B26+41CA (up to 2 B41 carriers - 3 total carriers aggregated ) B25+26CA (up to 2 B25 carriers - 3 total carriers aggregated ) Uplink Carrier Aggregation (UL CA) 2xB41 256 / 64 QAM Downlink/ Uplink HPUE CAT 18 Modem 4x4 MIMO B2, 4, 25, 30 , 41, 66 12 spatial streams Holy bonanza! This phone supports up to 100 MHz of LTE spectrum being aggregated together from 5 individual Band 41 carriers! To add to that, it also supports FDD and TDD LTE carrier aggregation by utilizing Band 25 1900 MHz or Band 26 800 MHz as the primary component carrier which would contribute to downlink and uplink while Band 41 is aggregated to it would be downlink only secondary component carriers. Remember the saying of having B25 or B26 uplink with Band 41 downlink, anybody? Plus there is expansion of FDD carrier aggregation to that of between Band 25 and Band 26. This will help a ton in areas where Band 41 and its oodles of capacity does not reach. As the recent CDMA refarming nationwide on PCS spectrum has allowed Sprint to fire up an additional Band 25 carrier, this means in many Sprint markets there currently exists two Band 25 carriers in addition to a Band 26 carrier. This additional carrier is not forgotten and can now be used alongside the other Band 25 and Band 26 carrier for carrier aggregation. Last but not least, this phone is "Gigabit Class" by having up to 12 spacial streams means that 4x4 MIMO can be used for 3 separate B41 carriers when aggregated together instead of 2 in the previous generation which supports only 10 spacial streams. Though it was a moot point as the entire generation of Samsung flagships from this past year did not support 4x4 MIMO on Band 41, until now! A phone this size should not be able to pack so many technologies...but yet it does! A splendid phone and surely a must have for the S4GRU and other tech adept users!
  37. 15 points
  38. 15 points
    Official word? How can there be an official announcement that a deal is off when there has been no official announcement that a deal is on? It's all rumor and speculation.
  39. 14 points
    Let's be careful with the political commentary. Please stay within the rules https://s4gru.com/forums/topic/1197-s4gru-posting-guidelines-aka-the-rulez/ Robert
  40. 14 points
    Excited when you see your neighbor with a MB on their window ?
  41. 14 points
    This tower has to be 4x4 mimo. Its speeds are too consistent. 250-320 mbps at all times. Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
  42. 14 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, August 19, 2016 - 2:04 AM MDT Earlier this week, the two HTC 2016 Nexus handsets -- codenamed "Marlin" and "Sailfish" -- were caught in the net of the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorization database. While Google has yet to reveal them officially as Nexus handsets, that HTC is the manufacturer of choice this year has been a heavily leaked secret the past few months. And the circumstantial evidence now is overwhelming. The FCC grantee code, NM8G, appends a "G" to the usual NM8 grantee code for HTC branded devices, and the user manual declaration document posits that the final draft manual will be available publicly on the Google web site in the Nexus support section. Neither handset has been identified or named individually, though the 2PW4100 likely is the larger "Marlin," the 2PW2100, the smaller "Sailfish." Both are at least the domestic variants with airlink support across the board for VZW, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. No international variants have passed through the FCC OET. Unless international variants do get authorized in the coming days/weeks, the two HTC Nexus handsets could end up in uncharted waters as single variants for the world, covering all supported international LTE bands, too. Full disclosure, however, probably will have to wait until the Google announcement event when accompanying tech specs are published. In the meantime, the domestic RF uplink test results and declarations are out in the world. S4GRU will not run down every last RF capability. But, just to confirm, some of the highlights are... LTE bands 2/4/5/7/12/13/17/25/26/29/30/41 VoLTE bands 2/4/5/12/13 (for VZW, AT&T, and T-Mobile) Downlink 2x/3x CA Dual, switched WWAN Tx antennas 0 and 1, bottom and top 802.11ac 2x MIMO The primary purpose of this article is to present a retrospective on the uplink RF powers of the current 2013-2016 era of 3GPP/3GPP2, Sprint compatible Nexus handsets as well as two recent HTC handsets. Those domestic variant Nexus handsets and the Sprint variant HTC One A9 and HTC 10 are the RF and design forebears of the 2016 Nexus handsets. So, how do the new kids on the block hold up to their predecessors? S4GRU culled relevant data across all eight handsets from thousands of pages of authorization documents in the FCC OET. For the radiated power figures, the usual clauses about lab testing versus real world performance and uplink versus downlink always apply. The figures represent best averaged and rounded estimates of maximum uplink ERP/EIRP test results provided to the FCC OET in the authorization filings for the domestic variant Nexus devices and Sprint variant HTC devices. See below: The numbers can speak for themselves. The LG, Motorola, and Huawei manufactured handsets generally are more powerful. The HTC handsets are not blatantly deficient -- though the One A9 comes uncomfortably close -- but the 2016 Nexus do spec out typically average or slightly below. Source: FCC
  43. 14 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 3:07 PM MST Yes, you read that correctly. Thanks to the mid range Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 (MSM8952), the HTC One A9 is the first Sprint handset to include a modem that supports uplink 2x CA (carrier aggregation). That comes on die via the X8 LTE modem, which is a Category 7 LTE baseband, capable of aggregating up to 40 MHz FDD/TDD 2x CA on both the uplink and downlink. Now, before anyone gets too excited, Sprint has no imminent plans to enable uplink 2x CA at the network level. So, the uplink 2x CA support is mostly a proof of concept novelty. If you have been reading The Wall at S4GRU for a while, you probably know where this is headed. It is another in our classic series of FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) RF authorization analysis articles. We do not dwell on processor benchmarks, screen qualities, etc. If you want that info, read reviews or visit the HTC tech specs site. Instead, we cut right to the heart of what a cellphone is -- a cellular RF device -- and rundown its lab tested cellular RF performance. The One A9 filed its FCC OET authorizations over a month ago, but with Sprint selling the handset as we speak and HTC shipping the unlocked Sprint variant next week, we should take a look. Let us start with the band/class support: CDMA2000 Band Class 0/1/10 GSM 850/900/1800/1900 W-CDMA Band 1/2/4/5 LTE Band 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 The Sprint and CCA/RRPP band support is expected at this point. But all of the GSM/W-CDMA band support info comes directly from the HTC tech specs. I state that explicitly because there is no testing of domestic GSM/W-CDMA in the FCC OET documents. Barring a Class II Permissive Change filing with the FCC, the GSM/W-CDMA support purely is for international roaming. While the Sprint variant One A9 can be unlocked or even purchased unlocked, it is not authorized for use on AT&T or T-Mobile -- unless you can live with no GSM/W-CDMA, only band 2/4/5/12 LTE. For an unlocked One A9, HTC proactively has addressed the to/from Sprint provider switch issue by including that in its one time courtesy UH OH Protection program: In other words, want to switch from Sprint to AT&T, T-Mobile, or VZW with your unlocked One A9? HTC will swap out for the other domestic variant. Want to switch from AT&T, T-Mobile, or VZW to Sprint with your unlocked One A9? HTC will swap out for the Sprint variant. While on the subject of the AT&T, T-Mobile, and VZW variant, it is 3GPP only, thus VoLTE only for voice on VZW. HTC even acknowledges that fact: The other domestic variant has some further relevance as we delve into the FCC authorized lab tested ERP/EIRP performance of the Sprint variant. The FCC OET documents, per usual, do not disclose an antenna diagram. But they do note that the One A9 uses a dual antenna system -- antenna 0 and antenna 1, presumably top and bottom or vice versa. The handset will switch between the antennas at will based upon varying signal metrics. Much like Apple with the iPhone, HTC has implemented this dual antenna setup since the debut of the One M7 in 2013. In this case, however, the dual antennas are still single radio path, so SVLTE is not supported. Now, for the main attraction, let us look at the Sprint variant One A9 radiated power figures. I may sound like a broken record, but the usual clauses about lab testing versus real world performance and uplink versus downlink always apply. The figures represent my best averaged and rounded estimates of maximum uplink ERP/EIRP test results provided to the FCC OET in the authorization filings for the device. See below: Band Class 0: 17 dBm Band Class 1: 22 dBm Band Class 10: 18 dBm Band 2: 16-19 dBm Band 4: 13-16 dBm Band 5: 14-16 dBm Band 12: 14 dBm Band 25: 17-19 dBm Band 26: 16-17 dBm Band 41: 21-22 dBm The CDMA2000 performance is good, about average. And the band 41 output is along the same lines. That is about the best S4GRU can say regarding the tested results of the One A9. It does not quite hit the lows of the VZW variant Samsung Galaxy Note 3 -- the most anemic RF test results that S4GRU has ever seen in any notable handset -- but the One A9 is not far off. The band 4 output that maxes out as low as 13 dBm, for example, is very weak. It is mid band spectrum that needs greater EIRP. The positive is that band 4 roaming never may be a factor with this handset. And band 2/25 is a bit better, though still at least 4-5 dB below the desired level. Now, back to the other domestic variant headed to AT&T, T-Mobile, and VZW. The picture does not get much rosier. Comparing the 3GPP bands in common, the other domestic variant is superior by 2-7 dB in band 2, 6-9 dB in band 4, 2-4 dB in band 5, and 2 dB in band 12. Wow, those are big differences nearly across the board. The Sprint variant does get one minor victory -- it is 1-2 dB better in band 41 than the other domestic variant is in band 7, as both band 41 and band 7 operate in the same BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum. What happened, HTC? The Sprint variant seems to have gotten shortchanged. Was that a compromise to optimize band 41 by 1-2 dB? We can hope for better returns in real world performance. But early returns from lab tested performance are not good. Sources: FCC, HTC, Qualcomm
  44. 14 points
    Warning: Long, but worth the read. I just wanted to give a good customer service experience with Shentel. On one sector of the tower closest to my house (Woodstock, VA), B26 had zero data throughput. I am mainly on B41 at my house, but on occasion I would drop to B26. Anything I was doing would get cut off, which was frustrating. Through the Sprint app, I submitted some network data tickets, but nothing ever happened. So after about 6 weeks, I sent a Facebook message to the Shentel FB account one evening before work with details on the problem, including the GCI of the B26 sector and the address of the tower. I work nights, so I didn't wake up until about 2PM the next day and saw I had missed 5 calls from a Shentel Employee. It was the RF Engineering Manager. I called him back and he thanked me for my detailed message and he said when they checked the stats on the tower, they realized they had an issue. They actually shut down that sector on B26 so phones wouldn't connect to the bad band/sector. He told me the RRH went bad and they had already put in an order for a crew to replace it. He all but offered me a job and thanked me for helping them diagnose the issue. He told me I should stop by sometime and talk to him. Long story short, I may go have a chat with him sometime, but I don't know that I would leave what I'm doing now. Anyway, fast forward a few days and I got a call from a field RF engineer who told me they had just fixed the issue and did some other tweaks to the tower to make speeds better. He told me he is responsible for the general area around me and told me to save his number and call him directly if I ever notice anything else. I also got some info from him about future upgrades for this area. He said they are waiting on Sprint to approve them adding a 20x20 B25 carrier, but that should happen soon. He told me there is already a 15x15 B25 carrier active near me that I'm going to try to see if I can connect to it. That tower also has B41 so it may be a bit of a challenge to get my phone to connect to it. One last thing, they are close to adding a third B41 carrier to have 3xCA in this area. He said that should happen soon too. A couple days later I noticed that there are now two 10x10 B25 carriers live on my "home tower." There used to only be one 10x10 and one 5x5. I wish I could have asked him about this, but I didn't know at the time I talked to him. I'm guessing this may be the speed tweaks that he mentioned. This is all good news for this area and hopefully he and I can keep in touch. I asked if he could give me a tour of a tower one day and he said he would check with his boss to see if he could do it. I hope that I can do that someday.
  45. 14 points
    I've owned two XC90's. And other vehicles too. I totaled an Isuzu Ascender by hitting a deer outside Bismarck, North Dakota chasing Sprint LTE tracks on Sensorly (which turned out not to be actual Sprint signals). I have run into golf ball sized hail while signal tracking. Been chased by a funnel cloud. I have slid off icy roads. I have backed into parking bollards. Numerous paint scratchings from brush and trees while driving up mountaintop access roads. I have blown a transmission. I have had more close calls than I can count with other cars and pedestrians (and sometimes farm animals). I have dropped a brand new phone on asphalt jumping out to view new base station equipment deliveries. I have been chased off by well armed unhappy property owners. And other things that aren't coming to my mind quickly. There have been a lot of casualties. But many fun memories. I think I get the same rush that extreme sport enthusiasts get when I discover a new signal or some sort of unexpected anomaly and begin the chase. Like a less dangerous storm chaser? And less useful. I don't provide useful information to climate scientists and meteorologists. But hey, we do have a meteorologist on staff at S4GRU. And I'm glad for that! Robert
  46. 14 points
    T-Mobile announces Un-merger™. AJ
  47. 14 points
    To further explain what the PCC (primary component carrier) and SCC (secondary component carrier) is here is a basic summary of it: Each aggregated carrier is called a component carrier. The primary carrier is called the PCC (primary component carrier) and is the one where other carriers are aggregated with. Each component carrier aggregated with the PCC is called the secondary component carrier (SCC). In todays LTE releases the PCC provides both the downlink and uplink bandwith while the SCC adds additional downlink bandwith. So in sprints existing B41 configuration, each carrier have a theoretical max of ~80/17 so 2xB41 CA will have a theoretical max of about ~160/17 since only the downlink on the SCC are utilized and the uplink on the SCC is left untouched. -- Current devices that support 2xB41 CA are Samsung Galaxy S6 / 6 edge, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, LG G Flex 2, LG G4, and HTC One M9.
  48. 13 points
    by Tim Yu and Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Sunday, December 6, 2015 - 2:55 AM MST S4GRU staff is burning the well past midnight oil for our readers. Overnight, Sprint has unofficially updated its network coverage map tool to include LTE Roaming+ and LTE Roaming acquired via its participation in the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) Roaming Hub and its own Rural Roaming Preferred Partners (RRPP) program. The coverage tool LTE roaming update clearly is a work in progress -- more on that later. But LTE roaming is finally here. So, what is the difference between LTE Roaming+ and LTE Roaming? LTE Roaming+ A simple explanation is that LTE Roaming+ is pseudo native coverage. Sprint users will access certain other LTE networks without roaming restrictions and can treat them as native. Usage does not count against any roaming cap, the only restrictions being the plan type ("unlimited" vs data allotment). LTE Roaming LTE Roaming is non native, off network coverage. Usage is counted against Sprint plan roaming caps. Older plans, such as the Everything Data, have a 300 MB limit, while newer plans, like Framily, are limited to 100 MB. For a specific LTE roaming footprint example, see this coverage tool screenshot centered around Sprint's headquarters in the Kansas City metro. From the LTE roaming legend, the dark green LTE Roaming+ in western Kansas is Nex-Tech Wireless, and you can catch a glimpse of the same LTE Roaming+ from C Spire south of Memphis. The light green is LTE Roaming, all of which appears to be USCC at this point. Elsewhere, you will find LTE Roaming on USCC in its Pacific Northwest, Southeast, and New England regions. There is still map work to do -- note the LTE Roaming legend "@TODO will we have a description here?" More LTE Roaming+ and LTE Roaming operator coverage may be added in the coming hours or days. Device compatibility? Due to Sprint's unique LTE Band 25-26-41 network configuration, not all Sprint LTE capable devices will be able to roam on partner networks, which may use different bands, such as Band 2 (PCS 1900 MHz A-F blocks), Band 4 (AWS-1 1700+2100 MHz), Band 5 (Cellular 850 MHz), and Band 12 (Lower 700 MHz) As such, a CCA/RRPP compatible Sprint triband device, of which many were released in the past year, is the best bet for full network compatibility with partner LTE networks. A CCA/RRPP device will have LTE Band 2-4-5-12-25-26-41 support, which basically covers all of the standard LTE bands in use in the US -- minus VZW Band 13 and AT&T Band 17. No matter, VZW and AT&T presently are not LTE roaming partners with Sprint. If Multi Frequency Band Indicator (MFBI) is active at the network level, a regular Sprint triband device (Bands 25-26-41) may be able to access some partner networks -- due to Band 25 (PCS 1900 MHz A-G blocks) and Band 26 (eSMR 800 MHz + Cellular 850 MHz) being supersets of Band 2 and Band 5, respectively. However, these triband devices will not roam if the partner network uses Band 4 or Band 12. An older single band Sprint LTE Band 25 device will be even more restricted. If it can roam at all, it will be limited to partner networks that use Band 2, again assuming MFBI. In Summary... A few months ago, Sprint upgraded much off network coverage for most accounts from only CDMA1X to EV-DO. Now, a lot of that same roaming footprint gets elevated a second time to LTE. Sprint LTE, eHRPD/EV-DO, and CDMA1X coverage still will hold highest priority. Whether LTE Roaming+ or LTE Roaming, it will not supersede Sprint eHRPD/EV-DO or CDMA1X signal. But outside of all Sprint native coverage, roaming gets another boost. LTE roam, roam if you want to. Sources: Sprint, S4GRU thread
  49. 13 points
    Dave YeagerSprint 4G Rollout UpdatesTuesday, April 3, 2018 - 6:20 PM PDT Exciting times for those of us who track Sprint Macro sites and signals. Sprint has accomplished a lot during the last few years in many places. Even during a period of reduced capital expenditures. Progress has been made by increasing bandwidth and adding carriers to LTE 1900 MHz, adding LTE 2.5 GHz macro and small cell sites, adding 3x3 LTE 800 MHz to many existing sites near the border, and working to eliminate 3G Only Ground Mounted Radio sites by adding LTE in many places*. Some of these improvements have been offset by ever increasing data demands that have doubled every 18 months. For maximum gain, a new plan was needed...Next-Gen. Since late Fall 2017 Columbus S4GRU members have been tracking new permits in Ohio trying to figure out Sprint’s Next-Gen plans in detail. These permits soon made it obvious that multiple site configurations are involved. In late February / early March three Next-Gen sites were found in the Columbus Market. To ensure that these were not just isolated test sites, two identical Next-Gen sites were confirmed in the Cincinnati Market about a week ago. These are new antennas and are a different scenario than described in the prior S4GRU Wall Article on 16 port Triband Antennas. Note that these new antennas (center) are about the same size as the 1900/800 MHz dual band antennas, except thicker and cover 2.5 GHz / 800 MHz. There are 10 ports on the bottom, excluding the 4 AISG ports, for 8T8R 2.5 GHz and 2T2R 800 MHz (plus 2T2R 800 MHz from Network Vision antenna/RRH). The site diagrams from Connecticut list them as Commscope DT465B-2XR-V2, which matches our photos. These new antennas are combined with a 2.5 GHz 8T8R RRH and another 800MHz RRH (a few permits list just one 4 port 800 MHz RRH) and always been found with existing hexport dual band 800/1900 MHz equipment. ** Sprint’s desire to add 2.5 GHz to all sites is well publicized. But why two 800 MHz RRHs? To allow 4x4 MIMO for 800 MHz LTE. While only some tablets will fully benefit from 4x4 MIMO given the antenna size requirements, all devices will benefit from the significant signal propagation and stability improvements over 2xT/R diversity. At the cell edge this is especially true. This will be a major improvement for technologies such as VoLTE where weak signals can wreak havoc on voice quality and even usability. Four Sprint scenarios were noted in some of the Connecticut information. Besides the two scenarios covered in this and the prior wall article, there is a ground mounted radio scenario, which is dated February 28, 2018 -- well past the changeover to Next-Gen antennas seen in the late Fall 2017 permits. Only the Triband decaport (10 port Antenna) is visible in the tower with diplexers and RRHs near the ground providing only 2T2R for 800MHz, 2T4R for the 1900MHz and 4T4R for the 2.5GHz, as shown below: *** *** Below is the current status of our 2017+ permits for the Columbus market to give you an idea of where these antenna scenarios will be used more often. Note that while there is extensive permit information for the Columbus market, not all jurisdictions put permit information online plus accuracy and detail varies. There is at least one Sprint Next-Gen Scenario remaining. Keep watching your local sites, especially if you see improved Band 26 LTE 800 or new Band 41 LTE 2500 signal or GCIs. Report anything new to a S4GRU forum. Include pictures and screen shots. Others will guide you to help figure out what you have found. *For details for my market for 2017: http://s4gru.com/forums/topic/1904-network-visionlte-columbus-market/?page=219&tab=comments#comment-526696 Other spreadsheet markets in this region have similar stories to tell. ** Wiring Diagram source: http://www.ct.gov/csc/lib/csc/ems/east_windsor/southmainst/sprint/em-sprint-047-180126_filing_southmainst_eastwindsor.pdf page 61 of 66 *** Ground mounted Radio Scenario: http://www.ct.gov/csc/lib/csc/ems/stratford/hawleylane/sprint/em-sprint-138-180302_filing_hawleylane.pdf page 7 of 107 Many thanks to lilotimz and kineticman for their assistance with this article.
  50. 13 points
    That is why roaming was invented. Compete where it makes sense, and cooperate where it doesn't. - Trip
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