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  1. 90 points
    by Christina Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 3:10 AM MST Travel back with me a few weeks ago. It’s a cold Saturday afternoon, and I am standing and staring into a gated area near a cell phone tower. My date for this outing is frantically taking pictures and discussing the exciting upgrades to the equipment which have occurred since our last visit. I have no idea what he is talking about, all the mechanical stuff looks exactly like it did a few weeks ago. To me, it happens to look exactly like the 3 other sites we visited today. Not wanting to look totally stupid, I just smile and nod. Yep, this is what I do for fun for my 17th wedding anniversary. I am officially married to a cell phone dork. Since May 2011, I have had many a romantic dinner which usually includes at least a drive-by various cell towers. I have smiled and nodded through countless conversations which are dominated by the words, “LTE”, “Wi-Max” and “backhaul”. I still have no idea what any of this means. I have taken vacations based on the availability of 4G coverage. This past summer our family ended up in Waco, Texas. Not exactly the place one would call a cosmopolitan vacation destination. At least we got to go to the Baylor football season opener. We ran tests in between plays, and my husband would constantly grab my phone to look at an Engineering screen. I have changed hotel and restaurant reservations based on cell tower locations. My kids can spot a cell tower from 5 miles away. Family outings generally include a visit to one. My oldest son understands which panel is which on the cell tower. He also understands the secret language of cell phone technology which my husband speaks. I just continue to smile and nod. Many friends ask me in wonder why I allow my date nights to be interrupted by visits to cell phone towers and discussions about things I don’t understand. The answer is simple; I have the best husband in the world. S4GRU is my husband’s passion. He loves all things Sprint, cell phone, and the technology that goes with it. He is passionate about the site and getting the information to its members. He gives unselfishly to it while still honoring all his work, home and community obligations. When he isn’t working on this site; he is being an awesome dad, devoted husband, faithful employee and a good citizen. The only sacrifice I make is that I occasionally have to smile and nod, so I don’t look like I have no idea what is going on. He sacrifices his sleep, his free time and sometimes his sanity to make sure we are all happy. I couldn’t ask for more than that. Today is Valentine’s Day, the day of romance. I am looking forward to a romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant and maybe a box of Godiva chocolate. There are two things I am pretty sure of. There will be at least one stop at a cell tower during the night, and I will probably be doing a lot of smiling and nodding.
  2. 70 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, November 11, 2013 - 11:55 PM MST S4GRU Staff and Members have been anxiously waiting for over a year for smartphones that would support all three of Sprint’s LTE bands. Since April 2012, Sprint LTE devices have been limited to only one band. Band 25 (1900MHz in the PCS Band). Subsequently, Sprint closed down the Nextel network and picked up another LTE band (Band 26). Also, Sprint purchased Clearwire and picked up another LTE band that they had started to use (Band 41). So Sprint now has use of three LTE bands which will allow it to provide more capacity, better maximum LTE speeds and coverage. With now three LTE bands, Sprint needs Triband LTE phones. S4GRU and our members really became excited in Mid 2013 when we learned through sources that the first Triband LTE smartphones would be out in late September. Shortly after that, we learned that the upcoming LG G2 would be able to support all three Sprint LTE bands via FCC reports. Rejoicing and happy tears filled all of us wireless nerds in anticipation of the first Sprint Triband LTE devices. Then we learned through a source that Sprint Triband LTE devices would not support SVLTE (Simultaneous Voice and LTE). To some this was a setback, but the hard core wireless enthusiast was not distracted. We all wanted Triband LTE at any cost. Besides, nerds don’t spend much time on the phone talking with people. We waited and waited, but nothing released. A few more Triband LTE devices came through the FCC, including the Nexus 5, Samsung Mega 6.3 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Then we found out that the Sprint versions of these device would not launch at the same time as their competitor counterparts. Many of our members were screaming about the delays. And we knew there had to be good reason. We just didn’t know what. The dam finally broke with Google’s release of the Nexus 5 on Halloween. And Sprint finally broke down and released the LG G2 about a week later. S4GRU and dozens of our core members quickly got their hands on their new Triband Nexus 5’s and G2’s and all was happy. For a few minutes. Until they tried to use Sprint’s LTE network where they used to on previous LTE devices. Some of our members reported that both the G2 and N5 had extremely strong LTE signals in Band 25. The best they have ever encountered. However, there was a very vocal group who were reporting that they could not stay connected to LTE for more than a few seconds. Something was very wrong. We tried to troubleshoot and figure out the problem with our members. But there were no clear common denominators among the problems that we could ascertain. We could not figure it out. And then we received heads up from internal memos within Sprint as to the problem. Sprint Triband LTE devices use Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) on the network. Sprint Triband LTE phones dropped SVLTE for eCSFB/CSFB Up until these new Triband devices, previous Sprint LTE devices supported simultaneous voice and LTE (SVLTE). It could do so with two separate transmission paths from the antennas to the chipset. Voice/texting could run via 1xRTT on one transmission path. LTE could run a separate path, allowing data and voice to be used simultaneously. In contrast, Sprint Triband LTE devices do not support two separate transmission paths. They have one path, shared by voice/SMS and data. We were alerted to this months in advance. However, we did not realize that the network would have to run on Circuit Switched Fallback in order for this to work and what the ramifications of this would be. S4GRU was told by a source this past summer that Sprint and the OEM’s came to the conclusion that these new Triband LTE devices could not use SVLTE in the conventional way they used to, and it would require a lot of engineering, testing and cost to even attempt such a design change. It was decided to release Triband LTE devices without SVLTE. It may seem that the only drawback for doing that is Sprint Triband LTE devices would not be able to run simultaneous LTE data while on a phone call or when actively transmitting a text. But there is another. And it’s why many early adopters of these new Triband LTE smartphones no longer are being able to connect to Sprint LTE in many places that they used to. How it works In previous Sprint LTE phones, when a device was in Sprint LTE coverage it would park in both the LTE and CDMA Sprint networks at the same time. When a voice call came in, it would just go straight through to the device. And signal to the LTE network would be maintained the whole time while the call was active. In contrast, a Sprint Triband LTE device can only stay on one technology at a time. CDMA or LTE, not both. So when a Sprint LTE Triband device is in Sprint LTE coverage it parks only in LTE. And doing so means it cannot transmit calls without Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) on the network side. CSFB and eCSFB (Enhanced Circuit Switched Fallback) are network controls that will allow a single mode/single path network to operate in two modes, both CDMA and LTE. Here is how it works in the simplest way I can describe. When your Triband LTE device has an LTE signal, it cannot receive or make calls on its own. It is just using LTE data happily. However, what if someone calls you? How does it get through the CDMA network to your device? Via CSFB. When the Sprint network tries to forward a call to your device but cannot see it via CDMA, it then checks for an LTE connection to your device. If it sees one, it tells your device to disconnect from LTE for a moment and reconnect to CDMA. Your device then jumps over to take the call on Sprint CDMA and the LTE session is interrupted. This happens very fast and seamlessly. Except for the loss of data availability. If you receive a text, the Sprint network is able to route it to your device via LTE. Circuit Switched Fallback is a great solution to the issue of Sprint Triband LTE smartphones. But the problem here is that the Sprint network is being upgraded in Network Vision, and not all Sprint parts of the Sprint network can currently support CSFB. And it affects all Sprint Triband LTE phones, not just the Nexus 5 and LG G2. Why it’s not working and impacting LTE in some places As everyone reading this article probably knows, Sprint is in the middle of a network modernization program nationwide called Network Vision. It upgrades every piece of network hardware, site equipment, radios, software and network backhaul to every one of Sprint’s nearly 40,000 CDMA sites. And much of Sprint’s legacy network either doesn’t support Circuit Switched Fallback or doesn’t support it in cases where the legacy network equipment is by a different manufacturer than the new Network Vision equipment. The problem that these early adopters of Sprint Triband LTE devices are encountering is that when their phones connect to the Sprint network they try to connect to LTE. And when it cannot see the CDMA network through CSFB, it then reverts back to Sprint CDMA and stays there. It does this in order to preserve device connectivity for the user to Sprint voice capability. When forcing these devices into LTE Only mode, the LTE works very well ruling out a device problem. They just are unable to use LTE in default mode without being able to have access to CSFB on the Sprint network. How and when is this problem going away? The good news is that most of the Sprint network is capable of supporting CSFB in some form or another now. Some markets are not having any problems at all, like Ft. Wayne/South Bend, Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, most of Chicago and Indianapolis. eCSFB is complete or very close to complete in these markets. Upgrades to the Sprint network are being handled nationwide by three different OEM’s. Samsung, Alcatel/Lucent and Ericsson. They are in various stages of deployment and are currently impacted differently by region. In places where CSFB is in place and operational, there are no problems with using LTE on a Sprint Triband device. And Sprint and their OEM’s are scrambling to get CSFB operational in all the other places. Some of the existing networks are capable of supporting CSFB and Sprint is working to get software upgrades in place for these networks to get it operational on them. However, some of the Sprint network has unsupported equipment from Motorola and these cannot be upgraded and will need to be replaced with their new Network Vision equipment to allow LTE and voice to work together via CSFB. Currently, just over 60% of Sprint sites have their sites upgraded to new Network Vision 3G standards which allow Circuit Switched Fallback capability. However, not all 60% of these sites are currently allowing LTE to work on a Triband device. These all should be capable of using LTE on a Triband device now, or in the next few weeks. Many of these markets will need to have their MSC Switch Center’s software upgraded too for CSFB to work. Beyond this, Sprint also has another 10% of their sites that have LTE operational but not the 3G upgrades that support CSFB. These 3,000 sites currently have Sprint LTE live, but it cannot be used by Triband devices without CSFB active. But there is hope for these locations. These sites do already have all the hardware needed to install upgraded 3G that will work with CSFB on the network. Sprint is scrambling with their OEM’s to get 3G up and running on these sites as soon as possible. Many have been upgraded recently and they will continue to be upgraded over the next weeks and months. I was told by an unnamed Sprint source that half of these will be CSFB capable in a month and the other half will be between 2-3 months additional beyond that. Sprint should be in a position that in the next 3 months that their entire LTE network will be CSFB capable and this will go away. As each site gets CSFB capable, Sprint LTE Triband device owners will be able to connect to LTE. And some S4GRU Members have already experienced this and are now reporting some sites reappearing to be used by their Triband LTE devices. This is likely do to a recent enabling of CSFB at the connected site. What about the last 30%? The last 30% of the Sprint network is not currently affected by this problem because they have yet to be upgraded with Network Vision or LTE. These sites are in various stages of being upgraded. In internal correspondence, Sprint says they will now take into account CSFB availability before launching new markets. Network Vision deployment will continue as normal, but OEM’s will now try to launch LTE and CDMA upgrades together at each site whenever possible and install CSFB capability at the network level for all the remaining sites. In cases where they cannot happen together, Sprint will continue to allow the LTE site to go live. But the site will only be discoverable initially to Sprint SVLTE devices. But by the time Sprint is ready to launch the whole market, CSFB will need to be operating before they issue the Press Release so customer expectations are met for all LTE device holders. Conclusion The bottom line here is that there are thousands of Sprint Triband LTE early adopters that are currently not able to connect to LTE sites that do not have a CDMA network connection that support Circuit Switched Fallback. But the problem is temporary, and improvements will go live every day around the nation reducing the number of affected sites. It will get better and better every day. However, we do not know how different markets will fare and when. It will be highly variable. There are many advantages of being an early adopter. However in this instance, for those who are very dependent on their new found Sprint LTE service, this may be too big of a burden to bear. These folks will need to use a Sprint single LTE band device until CSFB is working in their area or, as some have threatened, use another wireless carrier. At S4GRU, we believe that knowledge is power. This is the explanation of what’s going on, and what is being done about it. Now use the info to determine what’s best for you. Most of our members will likely just endure it and then reap the rewards once CSFB can be brought online in their area. A parting point in all this is Sprint is promising some advantages to a single transmission path with Circuit Switched Fallback. Sprint says in their memo that Sprint Triband LTE devices with CSFB will have improved battery life and better edge of cell radio performance. We’ll be glad to enjoy those benefits when they are fully realized. EDIT: Since the initial publishing of this article, it was discovered that Triband LTE devices were capable of sending/receiving texts via LTE. It is only voice calls that require Triband LTE devices to shunt back to the CDMA network via CSFB. The article has been edited to make this clarification. Initial LTE devices were data only (like USB dongles and MiFis), then LTE devices with voice/text services use either SVLTE or CSFB. Finally, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) will be enabled in the coming years that will allow simultaneous voice and data without need of falling back to 3G/CDMA networks. But VoLTE is still at least 18 months or more from being instituted on a large scale. Sprint Internal Memo regarding Circuit Switched Fallback issues:
  3. 66 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 5:01 PM MDT I am taking a moment and breaking from our normal Network Vision news and educational pieces to write an editorial. I try not to bloviate, but I feel like I am at a breaking point here. This weekend was a moment of great joy for many of us Sprint Network Enthusiasts as 4G LTE started going live at hundreds of sites across the country in a few select markets. However, our geek party was frequently interrupted by incessant whining. One of the chief frequent whines I heard around S4GRU was related to LTE coverage. And it still is populating our forum posts, my e-mail box and our social media sites. You folks need to wake up and get a grip. The world is not ending. S4GRU has been out there building expectations among our members and readers from the beginning. We have written hundreds of articles on Network Vision/LTE deployment. Anyone who actually reads our content knows that Sprint is targeting 40% market completion at market launch. 40%. That means 60% of the sites within a market do not have LTE at the time a market is planned to launch. Sprint did not quite even get to 40% with these July 15th markets, but proceeded any way based on demand from customers wanting access. You hypocrites! You know, I find it very interesting that so many people were pushing Sprint to stop blocking LTE connections. There was a large battle cry from most Sprint LTE device holders in active deployment areas for Sprint to stop blocking completed LTE sites. "Let me use my LTE, darn it!" This was heard over and over again. We even were championing for Sprint to open up their LTE network at completed sites for customers to use. Finally, Sprint does exactly that. Instead of rejoicing, there was whining en masse. "I live in the San Antonio market. And the block where I live behind the Piggly Wiggly doesn't have LTE right this very second. Sprint sucks. I'm leaving!" Really? Are people that messed up??? Many of you should be ashamed of your self-centered ridiculous tantrums that you posted, publicly embarrassing yourself. You act as if Sprint actually went through maps and hand picked who would win and who would lose in early deployments. This is far from reality. Early access or comprehensive coverage? Pick one, you can't have both The question I have for you folks is this... Should Sprint have waited until these markets were 100% complete later this year to allow the completed LTE sites to be used, or should they open up the markets now where at least the completed sites can be used? This is a no-brainer! Open them up now and every additional site that goes live every week, as they are complete! These markets that have launched are not done. They are still active deployment zones and additional sites will come live every week until completed. And we will update the progress here at S4GRU. This ridiculous moaning and complaining will just make it more likely that Sprint will not allow other markets to go live early. If all they hear from their customers are the whiny bunch, then they will think their customers don't want LTE until it is completely ready, with no bugs and completely 100% deployed. You may not like it, but the complainers are speaking for all of us. Time to stand up and go on the offensive If you want to continue to have access to the LTE network early, then you need to stand up and start posting out there the counter story. The tech sites, blogs and forums are being inundated with these people speaking on your behalf. Complaining about all the problems of an early launch and early access to LTE. You may even have to go to the Sprint Community Forums and help defend the intelligent decision to open up LTE early. The counter point needs to get out there. It's time for the Wireless Nerds to take our rightful place. We want access to the network early. We would rather live with a few bugs and limited coverage than to not have access to Sprint's LTE network at all. Sprint needs to continue opening up their LTE network even in more places where they can. And they will be afraid to do that in the next markets if we don't take a stand. I know this editorial may be a little over the top for some of you. But I am mad as hell, and I'm not going to let the whiners speak over our voices any more. We are Sprint, not them! Signed, Robert Leader of the Nerds EDIT: Changed the two references to bitching. I violated my own rules.
  4. 58 points
    . by Seth Goodwin Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 11:20 AM MDT Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has only been on the job for 3-1/2 weeks, but dramatic changes have already been made. Claure took part in Goldman Sachs 23rd Annual Communacopia Conference this morning in New York City. During the course of an approximately 35 minute onstage interview, Claure’s strategy for Sprint going forward was publicized for the first time. Claure started by noting the advice he received as a first time CEO of a publicly traded company was “don’t make any changes for the first 100 days.” He continued “I just couldn't help myself. On day 4 we changed everything we do from the time we go to market.” In his first meeting with Sprint’s vice presidents in Overland Park, Claure asked a simple question. Why would anyone buy a Sprint phone? The question itself was somewhat rhetorical. As Claure noted to the audience “really there wasn't really any compelling value proposition [at Sprint]." He noted that Sprint was more expensive than some of their competitors while still “coming out of a pretty traumatic network experience.” As to Framily, Claure discussed that even he himself had a hard time understanding how the plan worked, and was less than thrilled that “We were marketing with a hamster talking to people." The Way Forward Insight into Claure’s strategy can be traced back to his time at Brightstar. Over a 15 year period, Marcelo transformed a company from selling cellphones out of the trunk of his car in Miami, to a full scale cellular logistics corporation with over $10 billion in revenue in 2013. This entrepreneurial spirit and underdog mentality is what he is seeking to replicate at Sprint. Plans In the wake of complicated plans and the success of family share plans at Verizon and AT&T, Claure identified this as Sprint’s first target. Within his first four days on the job, Sprint’s post-paid plan offerings were drastically overhauled. He emphasized Sprint’s commitment to match or beat AT&T and Verizon on price as well as surpassing them by doubling the data offered on comparable competitor’s plans. By the end of Week 1, a competitive individual plan was also released. By essentially concentrating plan offerings to two simple to understand plans, Claure sees the ability to market and sell these plans to consumers being easier going forward. He told store employees forget about the rule book “just go out there and be an entrepreneur… It is incredible when you empower your employees and allow them to be entrepreneurs the type of things that start to happen.” Network Claure is aware of the importance of the network. He specifically noted that he monitors network performance daily. Even with that, he is optimistic about where he's taking Sprint into the future. “The network is our product…We provide connectivity and the network needs to be good in order for customers to come.” He also was gracious towards what former CEO Dan Hesse had already accomplished on the network side before leaving. “He made a pretty bold move,” Claure said. “We basically went and did a whole rip and replace of our network.” Marcelo noted that most of the network hardware replacement is done. Something the S4GRU sponsor site statistics bear out. Without providing details, Claure underscored something we have been hearing out of Sprint for the past several months...that the deployment of LTE Bands 25 and 26 are being accelerated with 255 million POP's now covered by Sprint LTE. As we have discussed on this site numerous times, Spectrum is ultimately one of Sprint’s key differentiators. “We have over 160MHz in the 2.5 band. Our majority shareholders entire secret sauce in Japan was based on their 2.5 network.” Marcelo said 60 million POP's are currently covered by Band 41 LTE. These are former Clearwire WiMax sites that have been converted to Sprint’s Spark LTE. One of the more interesting aspects of this morning’s event was the change in Sprint’s 8T8R Band 41 deployment strategy. Marcelo elaborated, “We are going to move to a smarter model in terms of how we deploy our equipment” going forward. He discussed that when he arrived, Sprint’s plan was simply to deploy new Band 41 8T8R equipment across their over 30,000 sites. Which is essentially all their existing full build Network Vision sites. The problem with this strategy according to Claure is that this “takes us too long to be good anywhere.” The new strategy has 2.5 LTE (Band 41) deployments being concentrated in areas where the existing network is overburdened. In the second wave of the Band 41 8T8R deployment attack, Sprint will be “going strong after a few cities...focusing on a few critical markets and deploying an experience that hasn't been seen yet in the U.S.” Shifting the focus to areas that need the extra capacity first is strategically important. If implemented properly, getting Band 41 LTE sites deployed across all markets where they are absolutely needed for extra capacity will help make the network more usable for end users. “There is no need for us to plaster the nation with 2.5, because it is going to take too long,” Claure said. “Rather we’d like to get some wins early on.” The Near-Term Plan To Claure, ultimately price and the network is Sprint’s winning value proposition. He noted in the wireless industry, you can either compete on price as T-Mobile has been aggressively doing as of late, or you can compete on the quality of your network as Verizon or AT&T does. That left Sprint in a precarious position, “we were the most expensive and our network is a work in progress.” Claure added, “You are going to see us now be the value driver… And potentially in the market for a really strong advertisement network.” Claure concluded, “If you can have price and the really strong network; you have a winning value proposition." To compete on value in the near-term, expect Sprint to aggressively counteract competitor’s moves. Claure gave the example of T-Mobile announcing a guaranteed best price on a device buyback or trade-in. Later that afternoon Sprint countered, offering to do better than T-Mobile. Sprint was in part able to make this play due synergies with Claure’s former company Brightstar, now fully owned by Softbank. Brightstar is the largest player in the phone trade-in market in the world. Claure noted synergies between Sprint and the over 1,000 companies Softbank owns or does business with are a competitive advantage. He noted that the value proposition is Sprint’s optimal strategy at this point and concluded by saying Sprint must be the ultimate disruptor in the industry. You can say what you want about Sprint's past. But the future is changing. It's squarely in Marcelo's hands. And he's gaining momentum.
  5. 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?
  6. 51 points
    by Travis Griggs Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 10:00 AM MST A PRL file is a Preferred Roaming List. In simple terms, it tells the device how to scan for various wireless cell systems, which ones are native, and which priority to use them in. If there isn't a native Sprint signal available, the PRL defines which roaming partners to scan for, which ones should be used, and in what order of preference to scan for them in. Contrary to belief and what some Sprint reps may tell say, a PRL is not a list of cell sites. You do not need a new PRL update to receive service from a new cell site. Nor will a PRL update result in faster Sprint EVDO (3G) speeds either. Of course there are a few exceptions to these rules with roaming agreements and/or Network Vision in the picture, but we will explain that later. PRL updates have nothing do with 4G WiMax coverage either. On some 4G LTE chipsets such as Qualcomm, the PRL determines if LTE is enabled for the geographic region you are in. So how does a PRL really work? Before I can start to explain the inner workings of a PRL, there are few terms for reference: A PRL is broken down into a three tier system: GEO - Geographic areas (regions), they are commonly referred to as a GEO. SID - System IDs assigned to the various carriers. NID - Network IDs are assigned by carriers to break a SID up. Common wireless bands found in US CDMA PRLs: PCS Band - 1900mhz PCS band in the US (A block, B block, etc) - Band Class 1 or 25 Cellular band - 850mhz cellular band in the US (A and B side) - Band Class 0 SMR band - 800mhz band used previously by Nextel. CDMA 1xA is in active deployment - Band Class 10 Other terms: Channel – assigned frequency within a band (200, 476, 350, etc) Negative (Neg) Network – SID/NID is prohibited (only 911 calls allowed) Preferred (Pref) Network – SID/NID is allowed for acquisition and usage Preferred Only PRL - only the SIDs specified in the PRL are allowed for acquisition When a device is powered up for the very first time, the phone will start at the top of the PRL and start searching through the list of SIDs for a native Sprint signal. This usually happens very quickly. Once your phone acquires a SID in your GEO, the devices will stay within the GEO for any additional searching for SIDs before it goes out looking in other GEOs again. This gives your phone a quicker response time of finding another SID when it needs to. If you have ever noticed it takes a little longer to find a signal when the flight attendant states you may now use your wireless devices, this is your phone searching the last known GEO, the devices then gives up and starts searching the other GEOs until it finds one to acquire. The SID/NID records within the GEO have their various priorities and channel/band scans assigned to them. A SID is the regional number assigned to wireless system. A NID is used by a cellular carrier to break up a large SID into smaller pieces for further localizing scans/rules. For instance a SID that has two large metro areas could have a NID of 51 for one area and 52 for the other area. The record would be listed as 4159/51 and 4159/52. If Sprint needs to apply different rules and/or acquisition channels to either NID it will put a record for each one. If no local rules are needed, the NID is listed as 65535 to encompass all NIDs within the one SID. In the PRL analysis reports, any NID of 65535 is suppressed as it is not needed. It may sound confusing at times but it is a simple three tiered system; GEO area, SID, then NID. In the PRL example above there are 5 SIDs assigned to Geo #4. The first two have a roaming indicator of 0, meaning a native Sprint signal. 22411 and 4159 have a priority of 1. These two SIDs do not necessarily have a preference in which either is used since they are the same priority but the device will scan for 22411 first. If 4159 is acquired, the device will not actively seek another network to use. During various sleep periods and/or timers the device could scan/acquire 22411 though. Once the device finds itself without a usable signal from 4159 or 22411, the scan will proceed into the next priority group. The next priority group of 2 has SID 4279 and a roaming indicator presented to the user. The device will acquire 4279 and notify the network carrier of its presence. The device will actively and aggressively continue to search for a non-roaming signal. Due to this continued scanning this may cause the radio chipset to not enter into the power saving sleep modes causing increased battery usage. As long as SID 4279 is available, the device will not search for SID 4160 with the priority of 3. 85 is a NEG network meaning your phone is not allowed to use this network for any reason other than 911 calls. What happens when Sprint installs a new cell site? I will say it again and again. You do not need a PRL update to use a new cell site, you do not need a PRL update to use a new cell site. Many Sprint reps will swear up and down that a PRL update is required to use new cell sites. This is incorrect! Many Airaves are activated and deactivated everyday but yet we don't see new PRL updates for these everyday. Using the example above, the phone is attached to Sprint 4159/51 using the same cell sites that were active on the previous day. Today the Sprint crews activated a new cell site to extend coverage a few more miles down the highway. Sprint will configure this cell site with the same licensed channels for the area and also configure it as a 4159/51 site. The devices in this area will use this new site without ever needing any type of PRL update. I've only scratched the surface of the various inner workings of the PRL file. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article. The next article will take a more in-depth look on EVDO records, MCC/MNC records for LTE, 800mhz SMR for Network Vision, and much more.
  7. 47 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 2:12 PM MST As most of our S4GRU readers are aware, Sprint is pursuing a three pronged approach to LTE. Tri band 25/26/41 LTE 1900/800/2600 -- the first two bands operating as FDD in Sprint and Nextel PCS 1900 MHz and SMR 800 MHz spectrum, the last operating as TDD in Clearwire BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum. A year and a half ago in the early days of Network Vision, S4GRU was the first web site to offer a peek at a live Sprint LTE downlink carrier. We did likewise in running tri band hotspot field tests upon the emergence of Sprint/Clearwire TD-LTE 2600 in Denver this past summer. But the missing piece in the tri band LTE strategy has been the 800 MHz spectrum and the decisive propagation advantages it brings to the table. Then, three weeks ago, S4GRU was able to start sourcing inside info on a few but growing number of band 26 site acceptances around the country. And today, S4GRU presents an exclusive first look at a live Sprint LTE 800 carrier. From the spectrum analyzer RF sweep, we can see that this site has achieved SMR 800 MHz deployment completion. On the left is the 1.25 MHz FDD CDMA1X 800 downlink carrier at band class 10 channel assignment 476, which equates to center frequency 862.9 MHz. On this site, CDMA1X 800 was deployed earlier this year just prior to the Nextel iDEN 800 shutdown. But LTE 800 did not follow -- until now. On the right is the newborn 5 MHz FDD LTE 800 downlink carrier. Temporarily, connections to the LTE 800 carrier are not yet allowed, so an exact EARFCN cannot be determined. But frequency domain analysis suggests a downlink EARFCN 8763, which equates to center frequency 866.3 MHz and is smack dab in the middle of the EARFCN 8761-8765 range that I predicted in one of my engineering screen articles earlier this year. In our Premier sponsors section, S4GRU continues to track ongoing band 26 LTE 800 site acceptances, which should accelerate rapidly over the next several weeks and months. Most progress thus far is in the Chicago, Houston, Kansas, Jacksonville, and North Wisconsin markets. However, LTE 800 will continue to sprout up across the Sprint network -- outside of those areas encumbered by IBEZ restrictions with Canada and Mexico. Below is today's snapshot of the evolving LTE 800 site map. Source: author's field test, S4GRU map data
  8. 41 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, July 10, 2014 - 1:30 PM MDT A few months back, Sprint announced new group partnerships with members of the CCA (Competitive Carriers Association) to expand the availability of Sprint LTE availability in many places across the country outside Sprint service areas. Additionally, Sprint has recently formed a subgroup of current/future LTE providers of the CCA that is referred to as the Rural Roaming Preferred Program (RRPP). Announcing such a deal with nTelos in May, and nearly another dozen in June. Sprint is part of the over-arching CCA, and working with its large membership group to establish a national LTE roaming group. However, where the action is happening now is with the Rural Roaming Preferred Program. RRPP members are joining a specific Sprint alliance which gives them more direct access to Sprint, their vendors, technology, devices and most importantly…Sprint’s vast spectrum holdings. As it has been explained to us, CCA members who are not a part of Sprint’s RRRP program are using their own spectrum and resources. Current disclosed members of the RRRP are regional and rural providers nTelos, C-Spire Wireless, SouthernLINC Wireless, Nex-Tech Wireless, Carolina West Wireless, VTel Wireless, Flat Wireless, MobileNation/SI Wireless, Inland Cellular, Illinois Valley Cellular, James Valley Telecommunications and Phoenix Wireless. There are more currently in discussion. Some speculate US Cellular will be announced soon, but we have not been able to confirm that. The news of the CCA and RRPP partnerships was well received by Sprint customers and members of the S4GRU community. Our members have been stoked at this announcement for months. Craving more details. When is this going to happen? Where, exactly? And the most important question to our readers has been, ‘how will the service be treated…native or roaming?’ In press conferences, news releases and media coverage, it is often being referred to as “LTE roaming” deals. When people see the term roaming, they immediately conjure up ideas of monthly limits or added expenses. For instance, most Sprint postpaid plans currently limit their 1xRTT and 3G EVDO data roaming to only 100MB or 300MB per month. That’s not very much. So many of our members at S4GRU have wondered whether these “LTE roaming” deals would count against current very limited roaming allotments, or if something more generous would be provided on partner LTE networks. This has been the source of some anxiety to our members who want to be excited about this, but want to understand the full impact to their usage behaviors. Drum roll, please… We recently have received verification from a Sprint executive, who will remain anonymous, that the coverage with the RRPP providers will be treated as native. Fully native. When you are on these rural partner networks, it will be like you are on your Sprint LTE coverage and all your normal account usages will be allowed. If you have a 1GB data plan with Sprint. Your usage on these other networks counts against your 1GB monthly allotment. And if you have an unlimited plan on Sprint, you can use unlimited smartphone data on these rural partner networks. The executive said the point of these new coverages is to provide a seamless customer experience travelling from Sprint LTE coverage into these new rural partner coverage areas. To feel like they are on the Sprint network. And maybe even better in many instances given the lightly used rural nature of this additional coverage. They want Sprint customers, and in turn rural partner customers on the Sprint network, to enjoy a cohesive and expanded national LTE footprint. Something that makes them more competitive with the duopoly. Some of these rural partners already have their own operating LTE networks on varied spectrum holdings. And others are counting on Sprint spectrum to host their LTE networks or supplement them. We are told that existing LTE networks from these RRPP members on frequencies that current Sprint LTE devices support should be open as soon as logistically possible. Maybe even this summer. They continue to work out some network bugs and billing/authentication issues. Additional LTE frequencies in Band 4 and Band 12 are anticipated to be added to new upcoming devices at the end of this year or early next year and will add even more mileage. This is great news for Sprint customers. This will open up a lot more LTE coverage. Upon full implementation, the coverage will be quite expansive in square miles. When other CCA partner providers coverage comes online, Sprint should be able to handily eclipse AT&T’s LTE network coverage. Which has recently been purported to be mothballed by AT&T, with no timelines in place to restart. We currently do not know the details of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) on these partner networks. But a VTel Wireless executive did mention recently in a Fierce Wireless article that they were deploying VoLTE themselves. Sprint has been very mum on their VoLTE plans internally or through partners. We currently do not know if the LTE coverage that is provided by CCA members outside the RRPP will be counted as native the same way. Though T-Mobile is a member of the CCA, they are not a member of Sprint’s RRPP. So Sprint and its customers may see some unique advantages in both off network usage being counted as native and the availability of many more spectrum bands and more coverage than other standard CCA members experience. We excitedly watch and discuss the progress in S4GRU forums. Stay tuned. CCA Partners Sprint referenced this past March:
  9. 39 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, July 16, 2012 - 1:40 AM MDT As Sprint LTE 1900 has become live and discoverable in numerous markets over this past weekend, some of our readers, especially those who are using Android 4.0 ICS based ROMs, have expressed concern at the seemingly low signal levels that they have encountered. For example, see this screenshot from an HTC EVO 4G LTE (under Settings > About > Network): Note the -102 dBm signal level. If this were measuring CDMA1X or EV-DO, then, yes, -102 dBm would be nearing the margin of usable signal. But -102 dBm is actually relatively healthy LTE signal level. To understand why, we need to learn the differences between two types of signal measurement: Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) and Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP). First, an LTE downlink is divided into subcarriers. A 5 MHz bandwidth downlink, which is the configuration that Sprint is deploying, contains 300 subcarriers. And of those subcarriers, one in three carry LTE reference signals. In other words, of the 300 subcarriers, 100 transmit periodic reference signals. To illustrate, I captured this power vs frequency sweep with a spectrum analyzer. The LTE downlink graph comes from a Sprint site in the Kansas City area in late April, well before Sprint stopped blocking devices from live LTE sites. So, the sector depicted here exhibits no data traffic; it is transmitting only the periodic reference signals on 100 subcarriers, which you can clearly count in the graph: Now, RSSI is the more traditional metric that has long been used to display signal strength for GSM, CDMA1X, etc., and it integrates all of the RF power within the channel passband. In other words, for LTE, RSSI measurement bandwidth is all active subcarriers. If we take the above RF sweep of a Sprint 5 MHz bandwidth downlink, RSSI measures the RF power effectively of what is highlighted in yellow: RSRP, on the other hand, is an LTE specific metric that averages the RF power in all of the reference signals in the passband. Remember those aforementioned and depicted 100 subcarriers that contain reference signals? To calculate RSRP, the power in each one of those subcarriers is averaged. As such, RSRP measurement bandwidth is the equivalent of only a single subcarrier. And using our graph once more, RSRP measures the RF power effectively of what is highlighted in red: Since the logarithmic ratio of 100 subcarriers to one subcarrier is 20 dB (e.g. 10 × log 100 = 20), RSSI tends to measure about 20 dB higher than does RSRP. Or, to put it another way, RSRP measures about 20 dB lower than what we are accustomed to observing for a given signal level. Thus, that superficially weak -102 dBm RSRP signal level that we saw previously would actually be roughly -82 dBm if it were converted to RSSI. To conclude, here are a few takeaways about RSSI and RSRP as signal strength measurement techniques for LTE: RSSI varies with LTE downlink bandwidth. For example, even if all other factors were equal, VZW 10 MHz LTE bandwidth RSSI would measure 3 dB greater than would Sprint 5 MHz LTE bandwidth RSSI. But that does not actually translate to stronger signal to the end user. RSSI varies with LTE subcarrier activity -- the greater the data transfer activity, the higher the RSSI. But, again, that does not actually translate to stronger signal to the end user. RSRP does a better job of measuring signal power from a specific sector while potentially excluding noise and interference from other sectors. RSRP levels for usable signal typically range from about -75 dBm close in to an LTE cell site to -120 dBm at the edge of LTE coverage. Sources: 3GPP, author's graphs
  10. 38 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, April 26, 2013 - 6:29 AM MDT A significant piece of S4GRU's educational mission is helping our readers understand what goes on behind the scenes and underneath the hood in the operation of a wireless network. This often requires getting readers to access internal engineering (or debug) screens on their handsets to view numbers and metrics, such as PN offset, Ec/Io, cell identity, etc., as we track the progress of Sprint's Network Vision deployment around the country. So, S4GRU staff thought it long overdue to publish a tutorial on what all of those engineering screen numbers and metrics actually mean. And in this first part of what will hopefully be a long running series, we will examine frequencies, namely center frequencies. First, let us kick things off with CDMA2000 (e.g. CDMA1X/EV-DO). CDMA2000 is divided into band classes. Those band classes basically represent spectrum bands of operation. Some common CDMA2000 band classes familiar to Sprint users include: band class 0 (Cellular 850 MHz), band class 1 (PCS 1900 MHz), band class 10 (SMR 800 MHz), and band class 15 (AWS 2100+1700 MHz). Then, each band class is further divided into carrier channels. These carrier channel numbers represent the actual RF locations -- center frequencies -- of the carrier channels that we use for voice and data services. To illustrate, see the EV-DO engineering screenshot below, specifically the "Channel Number" and "Band Class" fields: Taking into account the band class and carrier channel number, we can use the following formulas to calculate both uplink and downlink center frequencies: uplink center frequency (MHz) = 1850 + (0.05 × carrier channel) downlink center frequency (MHz) = 1930 + (0.05 × carrier channel) In other words, the spacing in between potential carrier channel assignments in band class 1 is 0.05 MHz (or 50 kHz). And the band class 1 range of carrier channel numbers extends from 0-1199. So, using our formulas, the band class 1 carrier channel 100 in the included screenshot has an uplink center frequency of 1855 MHz, a downlink center frequency of 1935 MHz. This FDD paired set of center frequencies falls toward the lower end of the PCS A block 30 MHz license, which is 1850-1865 MHz x 1930-1945 MHz. Next, we can shift over to the 3GPP (e.g. LTE) side, which does things a bit differently. 3GPP sets forth bands, instead of band classes, but otherwise, the functions of bands and band classes are the same. In the US, common 3GPP bands for LTE include: band 4 (AWS 2100+1700 MHz), band 13 (Upper 700 MHz), and band 17 (Lower 700 MHz). But we are most interested in band 25 (PCS 1900 MHz + G block), the band in which Sprint is initially deploying LTE. As with carrier channel numbers in CDMA2000 band classes, 3GPP bands are subdivided into Evolved Absolute Radio Frequency Channel Numbers (EARFCNs). And like carrier channel numbers, EARFCNs indicate center frequencies. However, EARFCNs do so separately for uplink and downlink, as LTE allows for different pairings of uplink and downlink via carrier aggregation. Now, see the LTE engineering screenshot below for its "Band," "UL channel," and "DL channel" fields: Per band 25, we can enter the "UL/DL channels" (i.e. EARFCNs) into the following formulas to determine again both uplink and downlink center frequencies: uplink center frequency (MHz) = 1850 + [0.1 × (uplink EARFCN - 26040)] downlink center frequency (MHz) = 1930 + [0.1 × (downlink EARFCN - 8040)] In this case, spacing between EARFCNs is 0.1 MHz (or 100 kHz). Additionally, the uplink EARFCN range is 26040-26689, the downlink EARFCN range 8040-8689, both for band 25. And in the end, EARFCN 26665 in the included screenshot has an uplink center frequency of 1912.5 MHz, while EARFCN 8665 has a downlink center frequency of 1992.5 MHz. This is an FDD paired set of center frequencies, not a carrier aggregated set, and it resides exactly in the middle of the PCS G block 10 MHz license, which is 1910-1915 MHz x 1990-1995 MHz. In part two, we will take a similar look at center frequencies in the PCS 1900 MHz band's lower frequency cousins, SMR 800 MHz and Cellular 850 MHz. So, stay tuned. Sources: 3GPP, 3GPP2
  11. 38 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, February 22, 2013 - 2:55 PM MST Update: Many hands on reviews of the HTC One are emerging this week. Courtesy of Engadget, we can report that the Sprint variant is one of the very first Sprint LTE handsets to include a removable micro-SIM. Removable SIM cards have long been part of the Network Vision roadmap for 2013, so it looks like that time may have arrived. S4GRU welcomes you to the first major Sprint handset announcement of 2013. Earlier this week, the upcoming HTC One was revealed at an event in New York City. Not to be confused with last year's HTC One X, the HTC One is the new flagship of the line and will be offered by dozens of carriers around the world, including AT&T and T-Mobile in the US. Last year, Sprint got essentially a customized version of the HTC One X in the HTC EVO 4G LTE. This year, however, another EVO handset is not currently in the offing, and Sprint is joining its fellow carriers in standardizing around a universal HTC One platform. The only notable customization is for Sprint's specific CDMA2000 band classes and LTE band. And that Sprint variant had its authorization documents uploaded to the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database earlier today. If you have followed our series of articles on the EVO LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, and Samsung Galaxy Note 2, then you know what is at hand. Here is an RF focused breakdown of the HTC One coming to Sprint: CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800) LTE band class 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks) LTE 5/10 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth LTE UE category 3 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 802.11n MCS index 7, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth 802.11ac MCS index 9, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi tether NFC Antenna 0 max RF ERP/EIRP: 20.10 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.80 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 19.23 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 12.30 dBm (LTE 1900) Antenna 1 max RF ERP/EIRP: 13.78 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 13.58 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 14.27 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 23.63 dBm (LTE 1900) Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below) Simultaneous transmission modes: (see FCC OET diagram below) As for analysis of the specs, the HTC One is the world's first handset to include the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. But let us address right away another potential first that has become the so called elephant in the room. The Sprint version of the HTC One is limited to band 25 LTE 1900. It does not support either of Sprint's upcoming LTE bands -- band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600. One or both of those bands are expected to be incorporated in new handsets sometime this year, but the HTC One will not be the first. The other notable absence is SVDO support for simultaneous CDMA1X voice + EV-DO data, though its omission is growing less and less notable as time goes on. SVDO requires separate RF paths for CDMA1X and EV-DO. The first few Sprint LTE handsets did support SVDO, utilizing separate paths for CDMA1X and EV-DO/LTE. But the last nine Sprint LTE handsets have foregone SVDO, combining CDMA1X/EV-DO on a single path, so SVDO was likely just a temporary measure or a fringe benefit of the Qualcomm MSM8960 chipset and will not be a common Sprint handset feature going forward. In its press release earlier this week, Sprint calls its HTC One an "international" smartphone, and that could be interpreted to mean world roaming capabilities. The FCC authorization documents show no evidence of this, but they are not required to do so, since the FCC is a US authority. What is lacking, though, is any GSM 850/1900 or W-CDMA 850/1900. So, if the HTC One is world roaming capable, it will most likely be limited to GSM 900/1800 and band 1 W-CDMA 2100+1900. Since the HTC One is really the de facto successor to the EVO LTE, a little bit of comparison would be in order. In our RF rundown article on the EVO LTE last spring, we stated that it "does not look to be a stellar RF performer" based on its low to moderate ERP/EIRP figures. And our prediction proved quite prescient, as the EVO LTE has not been noted for its performance with weak signals. The good news is that, on paper, the HTC One looks to be a notable improvement in this regard. First, the dual antenna system is optimized for CDMA1X/EV-DO on antenna 0 and LTE on antenna 1. But as long as only one antenna is in use (i.e. SVLTE is not active), the dual antennas can be switched at will to combat an RF fade at one antenna but not the other. Second, LTE max EIRP has been increased by 4 dB over that of the EVO LTE. Furthermore, LTE EIRP has been maximized around the 1912.5 MHz center frequency, 5 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth configuration that Sprint is currently deploying nationwide in its PCS G block spectrum. In short, the Sprint variant of the HTC One has been tweaked specifically for the Sprint LTE network. Source: FCC
  12. 37 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 5:30 PM MDT Hold the phones! One day, you won’t have to worry about holding the phones as Sprint moves to VoLTE for its voice telephone services. That is because VoLTE (Voice over LTE) will allow customers to do a voice call and LTE data simultaneously. S4GRU is now able to confirm that Sprint is proceeding with Voice over LTE based on detailed information from an anonymous Sprint executive. He was able to confirm some of their plans for the transition to VoLTE for voice. In recent months, Sprint has been quite mum about moving to voice over its LTE network. Maybe even a bit misleading about it. Causing some to believe they may not even move to VoLTE at all. Public quotes from Sprint have reiterated that CDMA will carry its voice needs for the foreseeable future and not being in any rush about going to VoLTE like all their competitors have proclaimed. And based on this new information S4GRU recently obtained, it will certainly not be rushed. But Sprint is moving forward with a solid VoLTE plan that will see the lion share of its voice usage move to LTE. This is a relief to some S4GRU members, as they have been getting anxious as they hear other providers publicly extol their upcoming VoLTE networks. We will discuss some details of the plan as they were shared with us. The Sprint VoLTE plan Currently, Sprint is in the programming phase of VoLTE. This includes all the design criteria and functionality that can and should be included in their VoLTE system. This includes discussion and feedback from device and network OEM’s about feasibility and hardware support. When this programming phase completes this summer, it will then proceed with an FIT (Field Implementation Testing) phase. During the FIT, they will be able to discover any issues and bugs that need to be worked out before OEM’s start mass producing equipment and VoLTE is instituted nationwide on the Sprint LTE network. Sprint VoLTE FIT’s are planned to be in Kansas, Greater Chicago (Illinois) and Virginia. Key roaming partners will participate to ensure interoperability. An opening up of the VoLTE network to customers will be in a future implementation phase that is yet to be scheduled. The schematic schedule would have that be in Mid 2015, but it could be sooner if everything goes well in the wrap up of Phase 1, the FIT and the availability in the device ecosystem is realized. Key Points Sprint is proceeding with incorporating VoLTE into its network to capitalize on the following advantages: To support both domestic and global roaming for its customers and customers of other VoLTE providers Reducing the CDMA network (capacity, not coverage) by removing most of the voice burden to allow for spectrum refarming for additional LTE carriers (capacity) VoLTE will allow HD Voice to be interoperable with several other providers by using the 3GPP EVS (Enhanced Voice Service) codec and integrating other networks together Additionally, here are some details about how Sprint will implement VoLTE: The Sprint VoLTE network will be designed to hand off calls to the existing Sprint CDMA network, including HD Voice calls, via the EVRC-NW codec EVS codec standardization may not be achieved by the time Sprint starts deploying a VoLTE network. They will use AMR-WB and EVRC-NW for testing initially. This may limit initial interoperability of HD Voice in the beginning. Sprint to SoftBank Mobile VoLTE calls should be able to use HD Voice from the beginning, and vice versa. Sprint will leave some CDMA voice capacity indefinitely. However, ultimately the goal is to remove CDMA 1X Voice when coverage and quality is equal or better than customers experience today. Additional low frequency spectrum may be required, depending on future voice demand which is steadily declining. VoLTE calls will not be given QoS Priority on LTE initially. Should LTE capacity constraints be experienced during a VoLTE call, the call will be handed over to the 1x network. As the LTE network matures and loads are better balanced, voice on LTE will be given priority over other LTE traffic similar to WCDMA networks. FDD LTE networks will be preferred for VoLTE traffic over TDD LTE. TDD already has the uplink slotted for maximum data download efficiency. Adding additional uplink data demand for voice (which is synchronous in nature) on TDD (which is not synchronous) may cause a noticeable data upload degradation in voice demand scenarios. Due to FDD being synchronous in nature like voice calls operate, Sprint VoLTE will prefer FDD LTE over TDD LTE when possible to provide for the best network operation. Interoperability over getting it installed now One of the key reasons why Sprint is going to be last to the VoLTE race is because of interoperability. The most important attribute to Sprint for VoLTE is roaming with other providers. Early VoLTE networks will either not support interoperability, or will require significant upgrades or network changes to allow it. VoLTE is only now maturing to a state of interoperability where there are enough standards to ensure a system that can work with other providers. Unlike the Duopoly and some other early VoLTE adopters who may not care for an open voice network, and may even be against it, Sprint is making sure that its network is designed with interoperability in mind. So it works with other providers from the beginning. Sprint is likely working with CCA and RRPP members. And this makes sense in context with remarks recently from RRPP partner VTel in Vermont. The Sprint network is being designed from the get go to make sure it can host roaming for other LTE providers around the country and around the world, and also that Sprint VoLTE devices are capable of roaming on partner LTE networks as well. LTE can finally be that bridge to a cohesive global voice and data network among different providers. Since the world is embracing LTE as the de facto standard, it would be a shame to miss out on that level of interoperability. Granted, there will be some band support issues, but OEM’s have made great strides in providing devices to handle a great many bands these days. The current Nexus 5 model supports many LTE bands already. Sprint is banking on the slower and well planned route to VoLTE is going to provide a better network to seamless global interoperability for Sprint customers. Now if the FCC and DOJ will take notice and stop the Duopoly from buying out CCA members. This is the largest threat to competition in the wireless market currently, in my opinion. CCA Member Coverage Map. This is an illustration of what LTE and VoLTE could look like upon all existing CCA members upgrading to fully interoperable LTE/VoLTE networks.
  13. 35 points
    by Travis Griggs Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:15 AM MDT In Part 1 of the "What is a PRL?" series we covered the the initial basics and building blocks of the PRL which covered the 1X portion of the wireless connection. I encourage you to read the article if you have not already done so. You may have seen the various claims of receiving faster or even slower speeds with the mysterious PRL update procedure that seems to randomly happen to our devices. In reality it could be possible that nothing changed in regards to EVDO at all in the PRL. After a PRL update is applied to the device, whether it is pushed from Sprint or user initiated, the CDMA radio will reset just like when airplane mode is cycled on and off. This causes the device to reacquire with the network which could change the site and/or channel the device was using previously. AJ wrote an excellent article, "Can toggling airplane mode actually improve your 3G data speeds?" explaining the EVDO acquisition process. With all that being said let's jump right in and look at a small piece of the PRL to determine how a device connects to the EVDO network. In a mock scenario, the device scanned and did not find signal for the SIDs 22443, 22430, etc but was able to acquire 4159. The device will then check to see if any data records are associated with the connection. The assn tag field for 4159 is a 5. Any records inside this one geo block are checked for the assn tag of 5. In some Sprint PRL versions, the creators have failed to place the EVDO record in the correct geo creating a type of orphaned EVDO record issue, but this is not the case with this example. Record #279 has an assn tag match for the value of 5. The record is analyzed and it is determined that the device will use acquisition record #59 with a 0084:0AC0 subnet and no roaming indicator. If no EVDO signal can be found in the area with this search criteria, the device will fall back to using 1X for data and periodically scan for EVDO. The EVDO subnet is very similar to a SID, but since it is a 128 bit address scheme it offers more combinations than a SID. If needed, the provider could actually assign different priorities to individual sectors of one cell site using the subnet IDs. You may have already noticed multiple SIDs in this block share the assn tag of 5 along with the same acquisition records. The PRL is designed like a relational database where redundant data is shared to save space. So, how does the device know which channels to scan for EVDO? Let's look at the acquisition records of 2 and 59 used by SID 4159. The PCS band channels 50, 75, 100, 175, 200, 250, and 25 are used to scan for SID 4159 1X. These are not the only channels that you device will actually use. These are only used to acquire the initial CDMA handshake. The basestation of the site may direct the handset to rest on channel 25 but during an active phone call channel 150 might be used if the other available channels are at capacity. For EVDO, the device will scan 75, 175, 225, and 250 with a subnet of 0084:0AC0. If another carrier's EVDO signal happens to be on one of these channels it will be ignored as the subnets do not match. Just like on the 1X side and explained in AJ's EVDO article referenced above, the channel scan is only utilized for the initial EVDO handshake. The cell site may have a channel available that is not on the PRL list, which your device could end up using based on the basestation configuration. After attempting to digest all of this material you can see how the new PRL file itself is usually not why the speeds decreased or increased. If the spectrum licenses allowed for it in the area, Sprint could add an additional EVDO carrier channel of 300 to all of the neighboring sites and all of the handsets will be able to use it. The users in this area would probably see faster speeds due to this without a single PRL update. How does EVDO roaming work? In this example the device is connected to SID 4160 which is Verizon Wireless. Using the same analysis explained above, we see a data record of 5 is assigned. "Wait! I thought Sprint used data record 5 already?" This is correct. While your device is roaming on 4160 for 1X connectivity it is also scanning for Sprint EVDO. In order to save on roaming costs, Sprint has designed the PRLs this way. One negative impact on the user is additional battery drain due to this scan combined with the already active scan to find a non-roaming 1X signal. In the standard PRL for residential accounts, EVDO roaming on Verizon Wireless is not allowed. You will only find EVDO roaming on smaller regional CDMA carriers in some areas. On certain corporate accounts, Sprint configures devices with PRLs allowing Verizon Wireless EVDO roaming. While roaming, whether it be 1X or EVDO, the Sprint Terms & Conditions state: "Sprint reserves the right, without notice, to deny, terminate, modify, disconnect or suspend service if off-network usage in a month exceeds: (1) voice: 800 min. or a majority of minutes; or (2) data: 300 megabytes or a majority of kilobytes." Stay tuned for part 3 of the “What is a PRL?” series. We will cover the 800SMR SIDS, 800SMR acquisition records, and the coveted MCC/MNC LTE records shown in the PRL screen shots above.
  14. 34 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:33 AM MST Today we feature text from internal correspondence that was distributed to Sprint employees regarding the state of the Network Vision deployment and addresses key points that employees often encounter with the public. It is from a Q&A session with Chad Elliott, Sprint's Director of Strategic Technology Programs. Although there aren't really points in the memo that will be surprises for S4GRU Members who follow deployment closely, it is helpful to get some sort of official documentation from Sprint that we can now point to explain what is going on. It is a good and concise reference of many key challenges that have impacted Network Vision, with some vague outlook for 2013. Some things discussed in the memo include that production is ramping up and with more launches more frequently, why smaller towns/cities seem to be being upgraded first, issues going on that are slowing down deployment in some areas, etc. Take a look at the memo below:
  15. 31 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 5:33 PM MDT About a month ago, our FCC OET reporter, Josh McDaniel, noted that a mystery handset, the LG D820, came and went from the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology). Its authorizations were uploaded, then quickly rescinded, citing confidentiality reasons. Well, today, the LG D820 authorization documents are back. And we are looking at a 3GPP/3GPP2 handset that runs nearly the full North American wireless airlink gamut: GSM 850/1900 W-CDMA 1900/2100+1700/850 (band 2, 4, 5) CDMA1X/EV-DO 850/1900/800 (band class 0, 1, 10) LTE 2100+1700/850/700/1900/800 (band 4, 5, 17, 25, 26) TD-LTE 2600 (band 41) The only notable omission is LTE 750, VZW's currently boutique band 13 -- possibly left out for political reasons, since VZW has a strained relationship with Nexus devices, or for technical reasons, as band 13 has an inverted FDD uplink/downlink duplex. But in a nutshell, this handset looks like it could be headed to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, covering all of their bases. Here is the kicker, though. One of our moderators, Tim Yu, noted a significant resemblance between the back plate in the FCC OET filing and the back plate of a mystery Nexus device in a widely circulated photo recently from the Google campus. So, you be the judge. Based on the specs and pics, does the the LG D820 look like it could be the upcoming Nexus 5??? More to come... Source: FCC Thread: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/4366-lg-d820-google-nexus-5/
  16. 31 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 5:55 PM MDT . The news so many of our members have been eagerly awaiting...the announcement of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus occurred today. A LOT of information has been leaked out the previous weeks. More than I can ever remember from an Apple product. But some new information did come out today. And of most interest to our readers, is YES, Sprint Band 41 is supported. Welcome to Spark, our beloved iPhoniacs. Your wait for that is over. Typically, FCC OET device articles are written by the S4GRU Technical Editor AJ Shepherd or his protege Josh McDaniel. But given tight publishing deadlines and even tighter work schedules, yours truly will take a stab at it. I pored through the Office of Engineering & Technology website to bring you these details. A Band for everyone...well, almost The number of LTE bands that all the new iPhone 6 variants support is staggering. Even supporting a few more than the Moto X+1 we told you about earlier today. The Sprint Model iPhone 6 (A1586) and iPhone 6 Plus (A1524) support 20 LTE bands! Including 4 TDD LTE bands, like Band 41. Sadly, all iPhone 6 variants do omit support for Band 12. So on Sprint that will limit some of the upcoming CCA rural LTE roaming (not to mention the sadness of Tmo subscribers for missing B12). Sprint has announced that it is moving to have its devices support LTE roaming on its partner networks in the CCA and Sprint's RRPP program. The new iPhone 6s cover all these new partner bands, like B4, B5 and B17. Just missing B12. The Moto X+1 will be the first Sprint device to support B12 roaming. iPhone users will likely need to wait until next year's iPhone 6s refresh to get Band 12 access. But the most exciting information is that the Sprint models of the new iPhone 6s both support Band 41. So now you data hungry iPhone users can start spreading your loads on the Spark network. Since the Spark network has a lot of capacity, and a lot of ability to add even more capacity (more than any other provider), the ability of iPhone users to use this band is extremely important. It may even start to alleviate some of the burden off Band 25, where many iPhone users now are stuck. But that may not be very likely as the uniband and dualband iPhones from previous years get traded in and handed down to offspring. ERP/EIRP numbers to help anticipate RF performance Below find the maximum ERP/EIRP Numbers for the LTE Bands relevant to the Sprint variant: Band 25 5 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.18dBm 3 MHZ FDD channels: max EIRP 23.07dBm 10 MHz FDD channels: max EIRP 23.14dBm [*]Band 26 5 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 19.00dBm 3 MHz FDD channels: max ERP 18.85dBm [*]Band 41 (Spark) 20 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.86dBm 15 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 32.00dBm 10 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.97dBm 5 MHz TDD channels: max EIRP 31.65dBm [*]Band 4 (Roaming) 5 MHz channel - 23.97dBm 10 MHz channel - 23.96dBm 15 MHz channel - 23.99dBm 20 MHz channel - 23.88dBm [*]Band 17 (Roaming) 5 MHz channel - 23.98dBm 10 MHz channel - 23.99dBm NOTE: This is using the better antenna, on the best channel in the band, and with robust QPSK modulation. Although Sprint currently does not use B25 3MHz or 10MHz channels, nor B26 3MHz channels, nor B41 5, 10 or 15MHz channels, they were included for interest as it is plausible that Sprint could use these in the future at some point. Simultaneous Voice/Data and VoLTE As always, a hot question is whether the Sprint variants of the iPhone 6 support simultaneous voice and data. And the answer is...no. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus do not support simultaneous voice on CDMA2000 networks. So neither the Verizon nor Sprint variant can do simultaneous voice and data using CDMA1X voice. Just like the previous CDMA2000 iPhone models. The Verizon version will support simultaneous voice and data on VoLTE. Verizon is just beginning to deploy its VoLTE network. Sprint will not begin deploying VoLTE (Voice over LTE) until mid-2015 at the earliest. It is not known if the Sprint variant can receive a software update in the future to enable VoLTE on Sprint iPhone 6 and 6 Plus when Sprint VoLTE starts to go live next year. In the mean time, Sprint iPhone users will only be able to use voice and data at the same time over Wi-Fi. Carrier Aggregation/LTE Advanced Support And the last point to cover is Carrier Aggregation. Yes, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus do support Carrier Aggregation (an LTE Advanced feature). However, this new iPhone is only limited to 20 MHz total aggregation. So the iPhone 6 can aggregate two 5 MHz channels (5+5). And it can aggregate two 10 MHz channels (10+10). However, the total of the downlink channels cannot be greater than 20 MHz. So the iPhone 6 cannot bond two 15 MHz channels or do a 20+20 combination (because these exceed 20 MHz total downlink). Since Sprint is only deploying Carrier Aggregation (LTE Advanced) to its Band 41 (Spark) network at this time, the iPhone 6 cannot handle that. This is due to Sprint currently only deploying B41 in wideband 20 MHz carrier widths. So the minimum two carriers being aggregated for Sprint would be 40 MHz wide, far exceeding the capability of the iPhone 6. The same is true of Verizon and T-Mobile wideband channels. They cannot do Carrier Aggregation on the iPhone 6 either on wideband. Of the big four, only AT&T currently has no wideband LTE carriers (i.e. none that exceed 10 MHz). Conclusion The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer some pretty good ERP/EIRP numbers for Sprint customers, especially in Band 41 Spark. We expect some good and meaningful RF field results from our members soon. With Sprint announcing a new unlimited plan to lease a new iPhone 6 (16GB) for only $50 per month, some people are going to find a Sprint iPhone model irresistible. And, as always, you can already start making your wish list for the presumed iPhone 6S next September. For wireless network enthusiasts like us, 40 MHz or 60 MHz Carrier Aggregation in Band 41 and support for Band 12 are at the top of most of our lists. Oh yeah, and there was something about a wristwatch... Source: FCC EDIT: Removed Carrier Aggregation limitation of equal sized channels............................................
  17. 30 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:10 AM MDT Update: The Samsung review embargo has been lifted overnight, and Galaxy S4 reviews are being published around the Web today. Thanks to one of our favorite, highly thorough reviewers, Brian Klug at AnandTech, we can confirm that the Galaxy S4 follows the recent HTC One in providing a removable micro-SIM. So, while two data points do not necessarily a trend make, the One and Galaxy S4 do suggest that removable SIMs for Sprint LTE handsets are here to stay. Arguably the most hotly anticipated handset of the year, rivaling even the next iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 in its Sprint variant popped up in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database late yesterday, meaning that the next Galaxy is now authorized to operate in the US and is likely just a few weeks away from a Sprint street date. Not a revolutionary overhaul of the very successful Galaxy S3 platform of last year, the Galaxy S4 maintains a strong family resemblance to its older sibling but does generally and for Sprint specifically add a number of evolutionary enhancements, such as a larger 1080p display, world roaming capability, wireless charging cover functionality, and some transmit power increases. Thus, adding to S4GRU's long standing series of articles on the FCC OET authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and HTC One is our run through of the RF capabilities of the Galaxy S4: CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800) LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks) LTE 5 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth LTE UE category 3 W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850) GSM 850/1900 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi 802.11n MCS index 7, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth 802.11ac MCS index 9, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi tether RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 25.39 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 24.62 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 22.83 dBm (LTE 1900) NFC antenna integrated into battery cover CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below) Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below) Breaking down the RF specs, honestly, the Galaxy S4 may come across as a disappointment to many. That is primarily, though, because the reality could hardly live up to the expectations. First, the Galaxy S4 does not support band 26 LTE 800 nor band 41 TD-LTE 2600. Reports are that Sprint will not release any dual band LTE devices and will skip straight to tri band. Those devices, however, are still at least six months off, so like all Sprint LTE devices before it, the Galaxy S4 is limited to band 25 LTE 1900 on the native Sprint network. Additionally, the Galaxy S4's band 25 LTE 1900 is limited to 5 MHz FDD bandwidth. This seems to be largely a Samsung quirk, as Sprint LTE devices from other OEMs are tested and authorized for 10 MHz FDD (or greater) as well. That being said, this will likely be of no consequence, as all Sprint LTE FDD deployment for at least the next several years is apt to remain based on 5 MHz FDD carriers. Also, unlike the recent HTC One, the Galaxy S4 does not appear to be particularly optimized for the Sprint LTE network. Using the FCC OET authorization documents, we can gauge a device's RF prowess by examining its maximum transmit ERP/EIRP and at what frequency that max occurs. This is by no means a perfect simulacrum for both transmission and reception, but we can say that Galaxy S4 LTE is at its max RF wise in the traditional PCS A-F blocks, not the PCS G block 1912.5 MHz center frequency where Sprint is deploying its initial LTE carrier nationwide. Staying on ERP/EIRP discussion, the Galaxy S4 looks to be a rather strong performer on roaming CDMA1X/EV-DO 850 and the now being deployed Sprint native CDMA1X 800. Both show quite high ERP. On the flip side, the EIRP for CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 is good, too, but oddly less than the ERP of the CDMA2000 airlinks below 1 GHz that enjoy significant propagation advantages. With most other handsets, the transmit power relationship is reversed, CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 transmit power being greater to compensate for its greater path loss. Furthermore, ERP/EIRP was tested with both the standard battery cover and the wireless charging cover. A definite caveat, the wireless charging cover reduces ERP/EIRP by up to 6 dB. Most likely, the induction coil in the wireless charging cover absorbs some of the transmitted RF, thus reducing the radiated power. For some users, the convenience of wireless charging may outweigh the hit to wireless performance. But S4GRU cannot generally recommend wireless charging due to its inefficiency (much power is wasted as heat) and detriment to RF. As for simultaneous voice and data, the Galaxy S4 does support SVLTE but is the latest in a long line of Sprint LTE handsets now to forgo SVDO. Realistically, this comes as no great surprise, as we have not seen SVDO capability in any new handset since last summer. Either this is a limitation of the Qualcomm MDM9615 baseband modem that has become standard equipment or SVDO is no longer a strong priority as Sprint LTE coverage grows weekly. Regardless, CDMA1X and EV-DO share a transmit path (indicated in the FCC OET diagram above); hence, simultaneous CDMA1X voice and EV-DO data is not supported. As S4GRU has reported in the past, the FCC OET authorization documents are not required to disclose world phone capabilities because those bands are not in use in the US. However, the presence of GSM 850/1900 and W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850) is strongly indicative of the inclusion of international roaming capabilities, too. Indeed, other outlets are reporting that all variants of the Galaxy S4 include at a minimum quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and W-CDMA bands 1, 2, 5, 8 (i.e. W-CDMA 2100+1900/1900/850/900) -- the latter supporting DC-HSPA+ on the downlink and HSUPA on the uplink. While we cannot confirm these reports at this time, they certainly do seem plausible. What also remains unconfirmed at this point is the SIM situation: embedded or removable. As soon as this info comes to light, we will update the article. Source: FCC
  18. 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.
  19. 30 points
    by Kristofer Maki Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 11:00 AM MDT With great patience comes great reward. And with all the waiting that Sprint customers in South Florida have been doing lately, many are wishing it will pay off in spades, and soon. Indeed, I am referring to the 800MHz spectrum embargo that is still occurring in South Florida today. If you aren’t aware of the background of the issue, fret not, I will cover the background in detail so you are aware of what it entails. By the end of this article, my goal is to hope you understand a bit more about the current impasse with the ability to release B26 LTE (LTE 800) in South Florida, as well as give you an idea on when the blockade will eventually be lifted. Background It all started back in 2004, when the FCC adopted a resolution to completely reorganize the 800MHz SMR band. The FCC was quoted in saying that the plan was to, “Migrate Incompatible Technologies to separate segments of the band.” [1] The purpose of the reorganization was to alleviate interference with public safety agencies within the Sprint-Nextel coverage areas. The final plan ended up placing the public safety agencies within the 806-815/851-860MHz range and Sprint Nextel within the 817-824/862-869 MHz range. In between the ranges is an Expansion Band of 1MHz (for future use of Public Safety Agencies as need grows) and a Guard Band of 1MHz (To place a buffer in between two-way/trunked and cellular frequencies). For a visual of the band see the image below. [1] The original plan also provided a three year time frame for the changes to take effect. The plan was slated to start on June 27, 2005 and finish by June 26, 2008. Sprint was also obligated to pay for any reasonable costs associated with the transition of any license holder within the 800MHz band that was relocating to a new frequency. Finally the plan provided the creation of an independent agency to oversee all financial and technical specifics of the transition between the licensees, Sprint, and the FCC. This agency is called the 800MHz Transition Administrator. But wait, it’s October 2014! Wasn’t this all supposed to be completed by the end of June 2008? What gives? FCC Extends Rebanding beyond initial 3 years The short and sweet answer to that question is the FCC realized that the initial time frame wasn’t long enough to deploy the complicated communications systems, so the FCC ordered a process for filing waivers (Extensions to exceed the initial deadline). I requested comment from Miami-Dade County on the issue and they stated, “The first waiver extension was ordered by the FCC across all agencies in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico since it became obvious that the deadline was not realistic.” Many agencies have applied to extend their deadlines, so many in fact that the Transition Administrator had set up a section of their web site dedicated to waiver requests. Some of the reasons that deadlines were extended were due to issues with obtaining costs estimates, finding compatible hardware, and even some agencies just not sure with what hardware they were wanting to transition to. The additional delays with Miami-Dade County Now let’s consider the issue in particular of Miami-Dade County and all of South Florida. I was interested in their side of the story. I wanted to know more about what issues may have risen from the deployment process, and if there were any other issues initially foreseen that would cause a delay with the deployment to the new communications systems. So I took to my email. I sent requests out for comment from both sides of the spectrum. I contacted Sprint and Miami-Dade County on the issues and received quite the plethora of information. In an email interview, I asked Miami-Dade County for comment on the issues that have implicated the deployments of their transitioning to the new 800MHz frequencies. “Miami Dade County has the largest and busiest public safety radio system in the entire State of Florida.  With more than 90 million transmissions a year being generated by over 30,000 subscriber radios and with over 100 local, state, and federal agencies operating on the network, the planning and deployment process to install equipment at 11 radio sites and physically touch 30,000 subscriber radios with their own independent radio personalities, is critical and complex in nature.” States Rey Valdez, Major with the Communications Bureau of Miami Dade Police Department. He continues to comment, “The first of two large 800 MHz systems was deployed within schedule and budget December, 2012.  The second large system services law enforcement primarily was scheduled to be deployed by April 2014. The County encountered issues with the factory code of the radios and dispatch consoles that required to have more than 16,000 radios on the law enforcement system retouched.  As a result, the logistical process to coordinate with thousands of radio users had to be repeated for the entire base and in some cases, small pockets of radio users had to be retouched a third time.” In the most recent waiver request, Miami-Dade County requested until January 21, 2015 to complete the migration to the new frequencies. Sprint “Partially” opposed the extension, stating that the licensee has had since 2005 to complete its requirements. They requested that Miami-Dade relinquish all of the frequencies by October 2014. The FCC held in abeyance the request, pending additional information from Miami-Dade County. There was no other data provided on the FCC’s website stating what information was found, or if the waiver date was even granted. After doing some more searching around, I found on the Transition Administrators site that Miami-Dade County was granted the waiver date of January 21, 2015. I asked if they had any pending issues that would withhold the agency being able to meet the deadline and Major Rey Valdez stated, “Miami-Dade County has successfully migrated 40% of all the users in the law enforcement system as of September 30, 2014 with the rest of the users migrating over incrementally before January 21, 2015.” He continued to explain that, “Barring a natural disaster such as the landfall of a major hurricane, we do not foresee any other issue that would prevent us from meeting out commitment with the waiver request for January 21, 2015.” This is great news that hopefully we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! When asking Sprint for comment, they declined until an official news release was given on the issue. No date or timeframe was given. So here’s to hoping that South Florida has another quiet year for tropical weather activity so Miami-Dade may peacefully and prudently finish their radio re-banding. Considering the size and scope of the project, it is more than understandable that having to touch over 30,000 subscriber units can take time and burn through resources. Just a few more months, with an eye to the sky We are hoping that we should be able to see B26 LTE (800MHz LTE) sometime around the beginning of next year here around South Florida. It does, in fact, affect a large area of South Florida, from the Florida Keys, all the way up to about 30 Miles north of Okeechobee, FL. Covering about an 80 mile radius around the perimeter of Miami-Dade County. It’s easy to guess which areas are affected by the, “Frequency Embargo” by checking out the B26 Sites Accepted Map & Discussion in the S4GRU Premier Sponsors Thread. You can read more about the 800Mhz Transition by visiting http://www.800ta.org. Special thanks to the Miami-Dade Police Department-Communications Division for their comments on the issue. Cheers!
  20. 29 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, October 21, 2013 - 3:55 PM MDT Clarification: Many readers seem to be confusing the previously authorized and officially announced tri band Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini with this tri band Galaxy S4 reboot, which is full size. The two have quite different model numbers -- the Mini is SPH-L520, while as stated below, the tri band Galaxy S4 is SPH-L720T. Sprint has not yet formally acknowledged the latter, but it has passed FCC OET authorization. And S4GRU expects it to be another tri band handset available before the end of the year. To alleviate the confusion, we are planning an overview article on Sprint Spark tri band handsets, probably to coincide with the November 8 street date next week for the first group of released handsets. Six months ago, S4GRU published an article breaking down the FCC authorization documents for the Sprint variant Samsung Galaxy S4. Many were disappointed that the Galaxy S4, like all other Sprint LTE devices for the past year, was limited to single band 25 LTE 1900. It was not a Sprint tri band LTE handset -- even though band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600 seemed to be right on the horizon because of the impending shutdown of the Nextel iDEN network and the likely approval of the SoftBank-Sprint-Clearwire transaction. Indeed, with the arrival of several Sprint tri band mobile hotspots, TD-LTE 2600 started to become available in metros around the country late this past summer. Today, we bring you another teaser article. The FCC OET database this afternoon uploaded the authorizations for this Samsung model number: SPH-L720T. Now, if you are familiar with the Galaxy S4, you know that its Sprint variant model number is SPH-L720. So, it does not take a genius to put 2 + 2 together. Or in this case, to put S4 + 2 together. Yes, Samsung has just revealed a Sprint tri band Galaxy S4. It carries very similar specs to those of the original Galaxy S4, but it adds two additional Sprint bands: band 26 LTE 800 and band 41 TD-LTE 2600. So, between the previous release of the single band Galaxy S4 and the almost inevitable upcoming release of the tri band Galaxy "S5," look for a tri band updated variant for the Sprint Galaxy S4 in the coming months, probably before the end of the year. Rest assured, this handset will be of popular interest among the faithful -- and possibly despised among those who already used a subsidized upgrade on a single band Galaxy S4 -- so we will run a full FCC OET RF breakdown in the coming days. To head off the obvious questions in the meantime, no SVDO, no SVLTE, as expected. Before we go, though, view the antenna diagram below to see the Sprint tri band LTE goodness. As always, stay tuned... Source: FCC
  21. 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
  22. 27 points
    And what will this all mean for S4GRU? We are in a wait and see mode before we decide how to adapt. Until then, we will be here every day with you all, plotting our wireless destiny. Robert
  23. 27 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 1:13 AM MST Often you may see us refer to a GMO site around S4GRU. But, what is a GMO site? GMO stands for Ground Mount Option. Or sometimes, it will be referred to as a GMR (Ground Mount RRU) site. In this article we will explain many points about the Ground Mount Option. In the most basic explanation, a Ground Mount site is one where they are doing a partial Network Vision conversion instead of a full build conversion. A full build site is one where they upgrade all the hardware at a site, including the base station equipment (RBS/MBS), install new multi-mode antenna panels on the tower, add Remote Radio Units (RRU’s, sometimes also called RRH’s), and run new fiber optic lines from the base station equipment up to the RRU’s on the tower. These are the ones most people who follow along Network Vision deployment are familiar with. However, a GMO site will install new base station equipment, with the RRU’s mounted down at the Ground Level, near the new base station cabinets. Then the existing lines running up the tower and the existing panels are reused. These are not to be confused with full build sites with Ground Mounted RRU’s. Those are not Ground Mount Option sites, because they still offer full Network Vision panels, and complete 800MHz and LTE services (where possible). They just are required to mount the RRU’s away from the panels for logistical reasons. How did Sprint determine which sites were to receive the Ground Mount Option instead of a full Network Vision rebuild? I have had the privilege of talking with several Sprint and OEM employees about the Ground Mount Option the past few weeks. Every one of the 38,000+ Sprint sites in the country had a site survey visit in 2011 to establish logistics and planning for the Network Vision upgrade. Each site is broken down to three priorities, largely based on the traffic and carrier count. See the priorities below: High Priority...site gets full Network Vision upgrade. If site cannot support RRU's and new panels, engineering is done and structure modifications will be made and the site is fully upgraded. Moderate Priority...site gets full Network Vision upgrade. If the site requires minor modifications to support RRU's and NV panels, then it gets fully upgraded. If it requires major attention with full engineering, then a ground mount solution is implemented. Low Priority...low priority sites only get a full NV upgrade with new NV panels and tower mounted RRU's if no structural modification is necessary. If anything is required at a low priority site, the Ground Mount Option is deployed. Also, some low capacity/low priority sites get GMO installs, no matter if the site can support a full install now. At the site survey time back in 2011, each survey team made a judgment call based on their review of the site whether to go full build or GMO, taking into account the priority. And there are anomalies that just do not make any sense. Some markets have no GMO sites at all. And some markets have all GMO sites, like Western Pennsylvania. Also, some site owners will not allow NV full build for various reasons. In these instances, a Ground Mount Option was selected. What are the advantages of a Ground Mount site? The biggest advantage of a GMO site is these sites are being worked on now and getting Network Vision benefits in the middle of the NV program, instead of at the end of the build out. Many 3rd Round Markets have started earlier because of GMO conversions. 1st and 2nd round markets have mostly full build sites with only a few GMO’s, or none at all. This allows some love for customers that would have been pushed off to the very end of Network Vision to see some improvements now. GMO sites are much faster to deploy with no tower work required. Most GMO sites will require minimal permitting from local authorities, or often no permitting at all. Also, GMO's require less negotiation with the site owner, as it does not materially change the site. GMO site conversions are already under way all around the country, and all of them should be completed before the end of this Summer. There are already 100’s of them with 3G upgrades in place. Ground Mount Option sites also will bring LTE much sooner at many locations. Because LTE 1900 can be run on most GMO sites if the appropriate backhaul is available and Sprint has the OEM install the appropriate number of RRU’s or RRU type. The first LTE capable GMO’s are coming online now. Alcatel Lucent has two live, one in New Bern, North Carolina and another one in the Shentel market in South Central Pennsylvania. Samsung has one live in Dayton, Minnesota. This is just the beginning. What are the cons of a Ground Mount Option site? There are a few. The first con with the Ground Mount Option, is there will not be any 800MHz service deployed. Sprint is in the process of adding CDMA 800 voice service to full build Network Vision sites. Sprint will also begin deploying LTE 800 service to full build NV sites before the end of 2013. However, GMO sites cannot support 800MHz service, as the existing tower mounted panels do not support 800MHz. In some rural areas, this is a big disappointment as customers have been waiting for 800 MHz signal propagation benefits in the boonies (like me). The second issue, is the availability of LTE. All full build sites get LTE, but some GMO sites will not be getting LTE deployments. Most GMO sites can support LTE through existing panels, so long as there are not too many CDMA carriers installed. However, some higher capacity GMO sites will not get LTE. Also, some of the most backhaul challenged sites in the Sprint network are GMO sites. They will not get LTE initially because Sprint is unable to get sufficient backhaul to the site to support LTE performance requirements, or in some instances Sprint does not want to go through the difficulty of equipping some sites that are a low priority. The last negative detriment of a GMO site is signal propagation benefits of panel mounted RRU’s. A Network Vision full build site with panel mounted RRU’s can achieve up to a 20% signal gain at 1900MHz. However, the full 20% is only realized at very tall boomer sites with little downtilt. Most sites get more like a 5% signal increase. And these GMO’s will not get that extra signal benefit. Are Ground Mount Options this way forever? Furthermore, at sites where the GMO is implemented, supposedly they will come back at the end of NV and do the engineering and structural modifications. At that time 800 service will be added when the new panels are installed, as well as LTE to sites that can secure appropriate backhaul. I have heard that in some instances (maybe a few hundred), they are using GMO's where they could not come to an agreement with the site owner. Whether financial agreement or logistical/structural. In those instances, Sprint is identifying other adjacent sites that they may move the site to at the end of NV. If no other options can be achieved, it may permanently stay a GMO and never have NV panels and 800 service. My understanding has grown tenfold in the past 2 weeks between talking to the Ericsson tech that's been on site and a long conversation I had with an OEM deployment manager. The most recent conversation I had, the source said they recently heard that more funding is being identified that could go ahead and do more work with GMO sites. Which may include converting them to full builds earlier, or at least changing out legacy panels to NV panels to add support for 800MHz. Differences between vendors Not all GMO sites are the same. Sprint is using three different vendors to deploy Network Vision. Ericsson, Samsung and Alcatel Lucent. Each of these three OEM’s have their own proprietary equipment. Different base station equipment and different RRU’s. Samsung has two types of RRU’s. 800MHz and 1900 MHz RRU’s. Each of the two Samsung RRU types can do both CDMA and LTE from the same unit, supporting up to four carriers each. At a Samsung GMO site, only one RRU is needed per sector, as the RRU can do LTE and CDMA on the same unit. However, Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent do not have it so easy. These two OEM’s cannot run CDMA and LTE on the same RRU. They need a separate RRU for CDMA and LTE on each sector. This is more work and more cost. S4GRU has been told that Ericsson is finalizing a new RRU that can handle CDMA and LTE on the same unit, but they are not in production yet. These are referred to around the forums as RRUS12. Many Ericsson GMO sites have been spotted with only a single RRU per sector. Unfortunately, these have all been RRUS11 units, which cannot support CDMA and LTE together, only in separate RRU’s. Hopefully many of these will get a second RRU still to support LTE, or maybe be switched out with an RRUS12 unit when they start to hit the streets. In closing Some of our members have been quite disappointed to learn that their site was selected for a Ground Mount Option. And I have to admit, I too initially was disappointed myself. Especially since my site is one of the GMO’s that will not receive LTE. At least, at first. The thing that we have to keep in mind is these are sites that are either very low priority or very difficult to upgrade. These were always going to be the very last sites to be touched at all, if at all. The majority of GMO sites probably wouldn’t have started until Spring/Summer 2014. For these sites to receive partial upgrades now is a very good thing. Many of us want everything, and we want it yesterday too. This is not practical though. All things considered, the Ground Mount Option is an elegant solution to the problem. Sprint just needs to push the envelope and install LTE on every one where it is physically possible. Oh and Dan, please add LTE to my GMO site (EP03AL506). It just will take two more RRUS11 units, or possibly a prototype RRUS12 unit. Just imagine the good S4GRU publicity you’d get. I will even arrange the backhaul for you! Ericsson GMO site photo. New Ericsson NV base cabinets in the back and ground mount RRU's on the left. Three CDMA RRU's present here, one for each sector. No LTE at this site initially. Samsung GMO site photo. New Samsung NV base cabinets at the left and ground mount RRU's directly in front. Three RRU's present here, one for each sector. Samsung GMO sites can run CDMA and LTE if set up that way. Alcatel Lucent GMO site photo. New AlcaLu NV base cabinets on the right and ground mount RRU's on the center. Six CDMA RRU's present here, two for each sector (one behind each also). AlcaLu GMO LTE sites will require two RRU's per sector.
  24. 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!
  25. 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
  26. 25 points
    And would you believe it, in the five minutes it took me to set up in a parking lot and run my RF sweep, the police pulled into the parking lot. Fortunately, it turned out that they were there to assist two motorists who had been involved in a small fender bender. But I thought that I was going to get questioned AGAIN! AJ
  27. 24 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.
  28. 24 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, March 10, 2014 - 8:47 AM MDT After official unveiling at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few weeks ago, the Samsung Galaxy S5 made public its authorizations in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database at the start of this weekend. All of the domestic variants are there, including the A3LSMG900P, which in its tri band LTE configuration and "P" designation is the obvious Sprint variant. As expected of a Sprint high end handset, the Galaxy S5 ticks off all of the checkboxes: tri band LTE, UE category 4, global roaming capability, 802.11ac, NFC, wireless charging, etc. It also appears to improve upon the RF output of last year's single band Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3. From a common uplink EIRP standpoint, the Galaxy S5 can max out up to 3-4 dB greater on band 25 LTE 1900, hitting 26.85 dBm in the middle of the PCS band, falling off 1-2 dB at the extremes of the band. Additionally, band 41 LTE max output looks relatively healthy at 25.03 dBm. In a pleasing move, the FCC authorization docs for the Galaxy S5 do include an antenna diagram -- something that is unfortunately becoming less common, per my mention in the recent HTC M8 FCC article. But in this case, we are able to show a visual of the dual WLAN antennas required for Wi-Fi 2x2 MIMO support, allowing MCS index raw data rates up to 300 Mbps over 802.11n and 866.7 Mbps over 802.11ac. Previously, two spatial stream Wi-Fi has been limited to some laptops and a select few tablets. Thus, the Galaxy S5 is pushing the handset envelope in that regard. See the antenna diagram below: Of course, with no separate CDMA2000 and LTE antennas, as depicted in the diagram above, the Galaxy S5 does not support SVDO nor SVLTE. No surprises there, since Sprint tri band LTE handsets have all been single radio path with e/CSFB. But continuing on the Wi-Fi front, the Galaxy S5 does include a unique simultaneous transmission mode: Wi-Fi and LTE. Now, this is not simultaneous Wi-Fi and LTE in the typical sense that Wi-Fi is used to tether an LTE connection. This is a dual IP stack connection over both Wi-Fi and LTE that Samsung dubs Download Booster, allowing packets to be split up and delivered by both connections, thereby increasing data speeds. Editorially, S4GRU has some concerns about inclusion of the bonded connection Download Booster, since it may engender "unlimited" data users to remain connected to LTE, too, while on secure Wi-Fi at home, work, school, etc. In most cases, Wi-Fi alone is sufficiently fast for all smartphone activities. And that is why S4GRU has long advocated offloading to Wi-Fi -- when/where possible and secure -- so as to help maintain valuable LTE capacity for truly mobile users. That said, we are curious to see the real world implementation of Download Booster before passing judgment. Finally, many hoped that the Galaxy S5 might be the first Sprint handset to support LTE Advanced carrier aggregation because Sprint plans to use its acquired Clearwire spectrum to aggregate multiple band 41 20 MHz TDD carriers. That capability, though, will have to wait for the presumed Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S6, or some other device. The carrier aggregation omission is worth mentioning only because the A3LSMG900A variant headed to AT&T does support inter band downlink carrier aggregation. This allows the Galaxy S5 to bond up to 10 MHz FDD of AT&T's low frequency band 17 LTE 700 with up to 10 MHz FDD of its mid frequency band 2 LTE 1900 or band 4 LTE 2100+1700. Indeed, AT&T carrier aggregation is already in use in Chicago, as Gigaom's Kevin Fitchard reported last week. Well, that is the FCC skinny on the upcoming Sprint variant Galaxy S5. Nothing revolutionary on the cellular side of things, but with MIMO and Download Booster, it does offer up some interesting Wi-Fi enhancements. Sources: FCC, Samsung
  29. 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!!!
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 23 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, March 3, 2014 - 5:37 PM MST No one is publicly sure what the codenamed HTC M8 will finally be called. HTC One 2, HTC One More, or maybe pull an Apple move and just call it yet again the HTC One. Regardless, all of the big four domestic variants were added to the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database today. The last to have its authorizations appear online this afternoon was none other than NM80P6B700 -- the tri band LTE variant undeniably headed to Sprint. As has been our trend over the past six months, we will still call this a teaser article -- albeit make it more extensive than usual. And we may not do a full RF breakdown in the future. Now that tri band LTE and 802.11ac, for example, are de facto standards among top of the line handsets, while SVDO and SVLTE have been laid to rest, there is less news to report on the RF side. But we do want to run a brief RF ERP/EIRP numbers comparison among the high end HTC handsets that have graced the Sprint lineup over the past two years because, well, HTC has developed a bit of a reputation among S4GRU members for losing its lead in the RF performance department. Despite its moniker, the HTC EVO LTE was downright poor on LTE, and the follow up Sprint variant HTC One and HTC One max were average at best. Numbers wise, the HTC M8 looks like a step in the right direction. Per the customary caveats, the available test bench measurements represent only maximum uplink ERP/EIRP, so they do not necessarily reflect the full two way RF performance equation. However, they can provide a decent advance peek inside at the RF proficiency of a handset. In that regard, the HTC M8 offers some improvements over its predecessors. See the table snapshot below (or link to it on Google Docs): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArY31Mr219-ydHh0c2xsUWFmbE1udW5vSnlSMjA3TFE&usp=sharing More and more, OEMs are hiding behind the shroud of confidentiality and not allowing public inspection of the antenna diagrams in their FCC OET filings. HTC now appears to have jumped on that bandwagon. Fortunately, the Sprint variant HTC M8 docs do reveal some antenna gain figures, and those numbers are not always divulged, diagrams or not. Of note are unity 0 dBi or positive 1 dBi antenna gains for >1 GHz bands. Compare these to the -3.5 dBi antenna gain for PCS 1900 MHz in the HTC EVO LTE. Additionally, though this is not apparent in the table because it lists only maximum figures, the ranges of max and min ERP/EIRP within the various frequencies in each CDMA2000 band class and within the various carrier bandwidths in each LTE band are more tightly clustered, more consistent than usual. This, likewise, could indicate enhanced antenna engineering. And, finally, the single radio path handsets that have arrived in conjunction with Sprint tri band LTE so far have generally been better RF performers. Will the HTC M8 -- or whatever it gets called -- follow suit? Early returns indicate so, but once S4GRU membership gets its hands on a few samples, field testing in the coming weeks will tell the full story. Source: FCC Thread: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/topic/5008-htc-m8new-flagship/
  33. 23 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 12:21 PM MDT As many of you know, Sprint recently established a partnership with members of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) as sort of a quid pro quo. This partnership is called the Rural Roaming Preferred Program (RRPP), and S4GRU wrote about the nascent RRPP in a recent article on The Wall. In a nutshell, Sprint will gain pseudo native LTE coverage outside of its standard footprint, as RRPP members overlay Sprint's PCS 1900 MHz, SMR 800 MHz, and even BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum on their existing networks. In turn, RRPP members will get access to Sprint's LTE footprint, and maybe even more importantly for many of these small scale operators, they will benefit from Sprint's and SoftBank's economy of scale in device procurement. Going forward, Sprint will create a device ecosystem that supports not only its native CDMA2000 band classes and LTE bands but also its RRPP partner LTE bands, namely band 2 LTE 1900, band 4 LTE 1700+2100, band 5 LTE 850, and band 12 LTE 700. The Nexus 5 almost pulled off that quadruple play last year, but that last LTE band has been a sticky wicket for CCA members, since AT&T was able to get its boutique band 17 LTE 700 pushed through the 3GPP. It left many CCA members that hold Lower 700 MHz A block licenses out in the cold, as they lacked access to some of the most popular devices created by the AT&T economy of scale. Today, that changes. Trumping a presumed iPhone reveal in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) later this afternoon, Motorola unleashed the authorization documents this morning for the IHDT56QA3, the third variant of the 2014 Moto X to pass through the FCC OET. The big takeaway, as indicated in the title of this article, is that this Moto X with the expected model number XT1092 is the first Sprint/CCA/RRPP fully compliant LTE handset -- even if an iPhone variant possibly joins the group here in the next few hours. In conclusion for this short Teaser, the FCC OET docs can speak for themselves. This table tells the whole LTE story for Sprint and its RRPP partners. We wanted to bring you the scoop as soon as possible, but stay tuned. S4GRU may expand this article as more information is gleaned from the FCC OET docs or becomes available elsewhere. Source: FCC
  34. 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/
  35. 22 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, May 10, 2013 - 12:35 PM MDT Welcome back to S4GRU's continuing series focused on understanding many of the signal metrics displayed on your devices' engineering screens. If you missed part one a few weeks ago, that is a good place to start for background info. Last time out, we covered 3GPP2 band class 1 PCS 1900 MHz, in which Sprint has long operated its CDMA2000 network, and 3GPP band 25 PCS 1900 MHz, in which Sprint is currently deploying its LTE network. Today, let us begin with the last of Sprint's current native spectrum usage -- 3GPP2 band class 10 SMR 800 MHz. This is what 3GPP2 also calls the "Secondary 800 MHz band," and we will understand why when we finish up with band class 0 Cellular 850 MHz a bit later today. First, take a look at the following CDMA1X engineering screenshot: This handset is camped on Sprint's brand new band class 10 CDMA1X 800 overlay, which is replacing iDEN 800 and is currently available in select markets around the country. Now, as we did last time, we can take into account the band class and carrier channel number, then use the appropriate formulas to calculate both uplink and downlink center frequencies: uplink center frequency (MHz) = 806 + (0.025 × carrier channel) downlink center frequency (MHz) = 851 + (0.025 × carrier channel) In other words, the spacing in between potential carrier channel assignments in band class 10 is 0.025 MHz (or 25 kHz). This is due to the SMR 800 MHz band's legacy of dispatch and iDEN, both of which conform to 25 kHz channelization. And the band class 10 range of channel numbers extends from 0-719. So, using our formulas, band class 10 carrier channel 476 in the included screenshot has an uplink center frequency of 817.9 MHz, a downlink center frequency of 862.9 MHz. This is the one and only band class 10 carrier channel that Sprint will employ across most of the country. In parts of the Southeast where SouthernLINC also operates in rebanded SMR 800 MHz spectrum, Sprint users will instead see band class 10 channel 526, which has uplink and downlink center frequencies of 819.15 MHz and 864.15 MHz, respectively, just as S4GRU detailed in an article a year ago. As for band 26 LTE 800, well, that should be coming online in the next several months, but no devices are yet available. So, for both of those reasons, we cannot post any engineering screenshots. What we can anticipate, however, based on SMR 800 MHz spectrum constraints, is that Sprint's 5 MHz FDD LTE 800 carrier likely will be centered somewhere in the 821.1-821.5 MHz x 866.1-866.5 MHz ranges, translating to uplink and downlink EARFCN ranges of 26761-26765 and 8761-8765, respectively. I will be out in the field with my spectrum analyzer in the coming months, ready to capture and publish a first peek at the LTE 800 carrier. And expect a follow up article on LTE 800 engineering later this year. Now, let us conclude with a look at Sprint roaming service in 3GPP2 band class 0 Cellular 850 MHz. Or this is what 3GPP2 has traditionally referred to as the "800 MHz band." And that, as I piqued earlier, is why the "Secondary 800 MHz band" name comes into play for band class 10 SMR 800 MHz. In more recent years, the "800 MHz" nomenclature has become problematic, as it makes distinguishing between band class 0 and band class 10 difficult for less informed users. For a good example of this, see the iPhone 4S tech specs, which mislead many into thinking that it supports Sprint's band class 10 CDMA1X 800 overlay. For this reason, I have long advocated using "Cellular 850 MHz" as distinct terminology. That background aside, let us examine a CDMA1X engineering screen of a Sprint device roaming on VZW: This handset is idling on channel assignment 425. Again, we can use the appropriate formulas to calculate both uplink and downlink center frequencies: uplink center frequency (MHz) = 825 + (0.03 × carrier channel) downlink center frequency (MHz) = 870 + (0.03 × carrier channel) So, that VZW channel 425 is centered at 837.75 MHz x 882.75 MHz, which is toward the bottom of the Cellular B block license, as we will see in just a moment. First, in the Cellular 850 MHz band, channelization is 0.03 MHz (or 30 kHz), as that dates back to the original analog AMPS standard, which used 30 kHz FM channels and got us all started on this cellularized wireless network journey. Second, we encounter a complication with band class 0. The above formula works only for a subset of channel assignments, 1-799. For channel assignments 991-1023, we have to use slightly modified formulas: uplink center frequency (MHz) = 825 + [0.03 × (carrier channel − 1023)] downlink center frequency (MHz) = 870 + [0.03 × (carrier channel − 1023)] The reason for this complication is complicated itself. When the FCC originally created the Cellular 850 MHz band plan in the 1980s, it was 825-845 MHz x 870-890 MHz, divided into two equal 10 MHz FDD (10 MHz x 10 MHz) licenses: Cellular A block (825-835 MHz x 870-880 MHz) and Cellular B block (835-845 MHz x 880-890 MHz). Each block consists of 333 AMPS channels, A block covering 1-333, B block running 334-666. Not long after, the FCC expanded the Cellular 850 MHz band, but it could not do so by simply adding spectrum exclusively at the bottom or the top of the band plan. Because of spectrum constraints and equal license bandwidth, the FCC had to add a sliver at the bottom of the band plan and two at the top of the band plan. The additions became known as "A low," "A high," and "B high." See my band plan graphic below: Since "A high" (1.5 MHz FDD) and "B high" (2.5 MHz FDD) continue as upper end extensions of the band plan, they follow the original center frequency formula, adding channels 667-799. "A low" (1 MHz FDD) tacked on at the bottom of the original plan is the anomaly. It requires its own center frequency formula and adds channels 991-1023. Also, note the missing channels 800-990. Those are a mystery, unbeknownst even to me. Additionally, because it is only 1 MHz FDD, "A low" is not frequently used for CDMA2000 carrier channels, which are always 1.25 MHz FDD in bandwidth. So, many of the carrier channel assignments in "A low" are invalid, since they would cause the CDMA1X or EV-DO carrier to extend off the lower edge of the band. If "A low" is utilized, the only permissible channel assignments are 1013-1023, all of which cause the CDMA2000 carrier to extend into the original A block. So, if you ever encounter a band class 0 channel assignment in the 1013-1023 range, you have found something of a rare bird. Well, that covers the relationships among bands, band classes, carrier channel assignments, EARFCNs, and center frequencies. Next time, we will turn our attention to another signal metric. I am thinking maybe SIDs and NIDs or PN offsets but have not decided yet. See you then... Sources: 3GPP, 3GPP2, FCC
  36. 22 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 1:10 PM MST Update: Six weeks later, Sprint and U.S. Cellular have finally filed their PCS 1900 MHz license assignment applications in the FCC ULS database. From the filing, we have learned that USCC will not relinquish all of its PCS spectrum in Springfield and Champaign, so the primary market spectrum table below has been updated to reflect that clarification. In a nutshell, Sprint will acquire a consistent PCS B block 20 MHz partition and disaggregation in all affected counties in the Chicago MTA and a consistent PCS A block 10 MHz partition and disaggregation in all affected counties in the St. Louis MTA. For a complete list of the counties included in the spectrum transaction, see this spreadsheet from the FCC filing. Yesterday, Sprint and U.S. Cellular announced an agreement to transfer PCS 1900 MHz spectrum and subscribers in several midwestern markets -- notably, Chicago, St. Louis, Ft. Wayne, South Bend, Springfield (IL), and Champaign -- from USCC to Sprint. While this transaction does entail that USCC will exit its largest and home market, Chicago, it is not a merger. Overall, USCC will give up 585,000 subs but will retain over 5 million current subs, and the deal involves no transfer of wireless infrastructure. Rather, the existing USCC CDMA2000 infrastructure in the affected markets will be retired within approximately two years, as subs are transitioned to the Sprint network. The exact boundaries of the PCS licenses and subs to be transferred from USCC to Sprint have not yet been revealed on a county by county basis. So, this article will be updated once the FCC assignment applications are filed or any other further info arises. In the meantime, know that this is a spectrum transaction, bar none. Chicago is Sprint's largest market in which it holds only 20 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum. In nearly all other top 10 markets, Sprint holds 30 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum. And Ft. Wayne is a proverbial red headed stepchild market -- Sprint's only top 100 market with only 10 MHz of PCS A-F block spectrum. So, most importantly, this transaction provides a 20 MHz PCS injection into Sprint's spectrum holdings in both Chicago and Ft. Wayne. For a look at the five largest markets included in the deal, see the spectrum table below: Moreover, Sprint's existing PCS D block 10 MHz and PCS E block 10 MHz licenses in Chicago are non adjacent. As such, Sprint has to run an extra set of guard bands -- one set of guard bands for each license. Those extra guard bands take up valuable spectrum, limiting Sprint to only six instead of seven CDMA2000 carriers in its 20 MHz of spectrum and leaving more sites in Chicago spectrum constrained than in any other big market. Synergistically, though, the PCS B block 20 MHz license that Sprint will acquire in Chicago is directly adjacent to its existing PCS D block 10 MHz license, giving Sprint a fully 30 MHz contiguous swath of PCS spectrum, which will allow Sprint to deploy additional CDMA2000 carriers and larger LTE bandwidth (10-15 MHz FDD) when the time comes to add LTE capacity. See the license contiguity in the band plan diagram below: Speaking of LTE, that is one of the key reasons why USCC is willing to part with its Chicago market. In most of its markets, USCC holds some combination of Cellular 850 MHz, PCS 1900 MHz, AWS 2100+1700 MHz, and Lower 700 MHz spectrum. But in Chicago, USCC controls only the aforementioned 20 MHz block of PCS spectrum. USCC entered the Chicago market just 10 years ago when it acquired PrimeCo, which had been divested as part of the merger that created Verizon Wireless. Since then, USCC has been unable to acquire additional spectrum in Chicago, leaving it effectively incapable of deploying LTE in its largest market while continuing its CDMA2000 operations. So, the deal with Sprint provides an exit strategy for Chicago in what was otherwise a dead end market for USCC. In the other five of the six markets detailed above, USCC likely could roll out LTE, as it holds additional AWS 2100+1700 MHz and/or Lower 700 MHz licenses in those markets. It should be noted, however, that those non PCS licenses are not being transferred to Sprint in this deal. But as it exits those markets, USCC will almost surely look to sell the other licenses, too, with VZW and T-Mobile being likely buyers for the AWS spectrum, AT&T a strong possibility for some of the 700 MHz spectrum. Sources: FCC, USCC, Sprint
  37. 22 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, February 3, 2014 - 8:47 AM MST Yes, it has been a while, but welcome to S4GRU's third installment in an ongoing series about the many signal metrics available on those engineering screens hidden inside most mobile devices. Both part one and part two date back to last spring, so check those out if you have not already or if you need a refresher. Part three has been a long time coming mostly for lack of a really relevant topic. But a question was just recently posed in The Forums here at S4GRU about EARFCNs and center frequencies for band 41 TD-LTE 2600. Previously, we covered that 3GPP relationship for band 25 LTE 1900 and touched upon it for band 26 LTE 800, but when we did so, band 41 had not yet made its domestic debut. So, now that band 41 -- christened Sprint Spark -- is being overlaid on Clearwire WiMAX sites in the top 100 markets and tri band LTE handsets are finding their way into more and more Sprint users' hands, it is due time for an educational look at those 20 MHz TDD carriers being deployed across the massive BRS/EBS 2600 MHz band. First, let us take a look at the BRS/EBS band plan itself. Both it and band 41 encompass 2496-2690 MHz for a total of 194 MHz. The BRS spectrum is licensed -- mostly but not entirely in every market to Sprint subsidiaries. The EBS spectrum is also licensed but to educational institutions, which may then choose to lease the spectrum to commercial entities. So, even though band 41 is maximally 194 MHz wide, Sprint does not necessarily control all of that spectrum. And some of that spectrum -- such as the EBS J block and BRS/EBS K block -- is not intended for broadband uses. In other words, contiguity is periodically interrupted. Plus, WiMAX carriers still occupy much of that BRS/EBS spectrum. All told, band 41 in the US is not quite the huge blank slate that some make it out to be for Sprint to deploy 20 MHz TDD carriers. For reference, see the BRS/EBS band plan: Next, we will examine a couple of band 41 engineering screenshots drawn from The Forums: Just as we did for band 25 in part one of this series, we can extract the channel numbers (i.e. EARFCNs) and enter them into an equation to calculate the band 41 center frequencies: uplink/downlink center frequency (MHz) = 2496 + [0.1 × (EARFCN - 39650)] Because this is TDD, not FDD, we need to use only the "DL" channel number. In TDD, there are no separate frequencies for uplink and downlink. The LG screenshot on the left properly indicates the same EARFCN for both uplink and downlink. But good old Samsung "enginerring" on the right registers a different channel for the uplink, EARFCN 58978, a number which is an invalid value. So, when working with TDD, disregard any spurious "UL" channel number. To finish up our calculations, the range for band 41 EARFCNs is 39650-41589, so EARFCN 39991 is toward the low end of the the band, equating to a center frequency of 2530.1 MHz. And EARFCN 40978 comes out to a center frequency of 2628.8 MHz. Separated by nearly 100 MHz, the former is in the lower EBS segment, while the latter is in the contiguous BRS segment, as depicted in the aforementioned band plan graphic. Now, that 20 MHz TDD carrier at EARFCN 40978 is the one that we have documented most commonly across Sprint Spark markets. This was not surprising, since it is deployed in the up to 55.5 MHz of contiguous BRS spectrum that Sprint is licensed, not EBS spectrum that Sprint just leases. That said, we are seeing more and more reports of other EARFCNs, such as EARFCN 39991 detailed above. In other words, the band 41 EARFCN -- unlike the one and only PCS G block band 25 EARFCN -- can vary from market to market because of differences in spectrum licensing/leasing and remaining WiMAX carriers. Sprint's ultimate plan is to deploy multiple 20 MHz TDD carriers per market, putting it in an enviable position for satisfying the public's rapidly growing appetite for mobile data. However, do not misinterpret the multitude of current EARFCNs. We have no evidence to this point that the various EARFCNs indicate multiple 20 MHz TDD carriers in the same market. That is coming but probably will not be widespread prior to the WiMAX sunset slated for no earlier than 2015. In conclusion, S4GRU has created a tracking thread for the various band 41 EARFCNs as they pop up from market to market. Additionally, in our DL Center, we have made available a comprehensive WiMAX/TD-LTE carrier bandwidth and center frequency spreadsheet (screenshot below) that is continually updated as new EARFCNs get reported. If you are interested, we hope that many of you will continue to help us "crowdsource" this band 41 data so that we can get a clearer picture on Sprint Spark and BRS/EBS spectrum utilization. Sources: 3GPP, FCC
  38. 22 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, November 14, 2014 - 7:46 AM MST 'Tis the season for turkey and tablets, pumpkin pie and "phablets." So, whet your appetites, and get ready for a movable feast -- or should I say, a mobile feast. Welcome to the first annual S4GRU holiday shopping guide. This may be nothing more than a one year tradition. We shall see. But we have definitely fallen behind this fall on publishing articles following FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorizations of notable devices headed to or at least compatible with the Sprint network. Playing catch up, here is a quick rundown on the RF capabilities of the Motorola Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy Edge, and cellular variant HTC Nexus 9 -- all of which have passed through the FCC OET and been released in the past few weeks or are to be released in the next few weeks. Not the purview of S4GRU, but all of the processor, RAM, screen resolution, and other specs are already out there on the Interwebs. If you need that info, refer to those sources. Thus, these brief looks at two "phablets" and one cellular tablet will be focused on their tested/projected RF performance -- particularly as that pertains to the Sprint network. To begin, the Motorola Nexus 6 ends up being the first fully CCA/RRPP compliant LTE handset -- supporting domestic LTE bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 -- and, for good measure, adding in LTE bands 7/13/17 for use in Canada, on VZW, and on AT&T. S4GRU first reported that CCA/RRPP band abundance of the supposed Sprint variant 2014 Motorola X a few months ago, but for unknown reasons, that handset never saw the light of day after it passed through the FCC OET. Its Motorola brother, which suffers from the hormonal disorder gigantism, though, picks up that slack and then some. Yes, the Nexus 6 represents a gigantic increase in size and price -- a curious decision if there ever was one. But it does appear to hold up its very large end of the bargain in RF prowess, maxing out in the roughly the 20-26 dBm range across all supported LTE bands. That is pretty good performance, particularly for band 41, which appears to enjoy an approximately 3 dBi antenna gain. This projects to be the strong performer that many had hoped for based on Motorola's RF reputation. Next up, the Samsung Galaxy Edge is truly on the cutting edge. And that refers not to just its curvy edged screen form factor. It is the first North American handset to support band 41 carrier aggregation. See the FCC OET filing table below: In fact, it is the first North American handset known to support LTE TDD carrier aggregation and intra band LTE carrier aggregation -- rather than inter band carrier aggregation, as we have seen in several AT&T variant handsets this year. That said, it is limited to two carrier aggregation with a maximum total bandwidth of 40 MHz TDD. Three carrier aggregation devices with a maximum total bandwidth of 60 MHz TDD will not make an appearance until sometime next year. And that is basically the good news. The rest of the news is not as good. The Galaxy Edge supports none of the additional CCA/RRPP bands -- not even bands 2/5, which are just subsets of bands 25/26, respectively. Moreover, the LTE ERP/EIRP is not very impressive. Fortunately, it looks hardly as poor in that regard as last year's VZW variant Galaxy Note 3 -- maybe the worst that we have ever seen in a flagship caliber smartphone -- but it averages just 17-20 dBm max output across bands 25/26/41. And, for reference, that runs about 2-3 dB worse than that of its recent Sprint variant Galaxy Note 4 sibling. The news could be worse, however. To conclude, just look at the cellular variant HTC Nexus 9 tablet. On the bright side, it, too, is a fully CCA/RRPP compliant device -- bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 -- also adding bands 7/13/17 like its Nexus 6 cousin. That band 12 tablet inclusion trumps even all Apple iPads for likely the next year. But the bright side does not extend beyond that in terms of actual RF. Originally, Google proclaimed the Nexus 9 to be a 3GPP/3GPP2 device. Since then, Google has pared that back to a 3GPP only device -- with the odd inclusion of EV-DO. The latter is almost assuredly yet another proofreading error, as the FCC OET authorization docs show no support for 3GPP2. Furthermore, reports are that the Nexus 9 uses a non Qualcomm baseband modem. Not good -- especially for a device that now rivals the iPad in price. For those who want the shorthand explanation, the cellular variant Nexus 9 looks to be compatible with Sprint -- but only Sprint LTE. It will have no support for Sprint CDMA2000. Additionally, the ERP/EIRP leaves much, much to be desired, averaging only 15-19 dBm maximum across all LTE bands. We generally expect more from antenna design in tablets because of their added size. However, that is certainly not the case with the Nexus 9. In summation, if you are making your shopping list, checking it twice, everything new in the Sprint stocking this holiday season is at least partly naughty, nothing entirely nice. Too big, too expensive, too focused on form over function, and/or too weak RF. Take your pick. Happy Thanksgiving? Or Bah Humbug? Source: FCC
  39. 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
  40. 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
  41. 22 points
    Awesome husbands often have awesome wives. You two have a Happy Valentines Day.
  42. 21 points
    Alright. There may not be a Sprint anymore, but the same rules apply. Just incessant complaining about the old Sprint is getting old. People will start checking out because it just will become a complaint board. Constructive criticism only, please. Robert
  43. 21 points
    by Andrew J. Shepherd Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, August 17, 2012 - 1:14 PM MDT CDMA1X and EV-DO carrier channels are shared resources. In CDMA1X, many subscribers share the same carrier channel, their individual traffic kept theoretically orthogonal by code division. Likewise, in EV-DO, individual traffic is separated by time division. But what happens when Sprint (or any other CDMA2000 network provider) has deployed greater than one CDMA1X and/or EV-DO carrier channel on a given cell site? How does your handset determine which carrier channel to utilize? You might like to think that your handset would automatically choose the least loaded CDMA1X and/or EV-DO carrier channel. But that is not really the case. Instead, when multiple carrier channels are available, each cell site broadcasts a channel list message of the available carrier channels on that site. Upon receiving this list of multiple carrier channels, each handset then invokes a hashing algorithm to select which carrier channel to use. Think of it like a multi lane highway, but each car must choose a particular lane based on the car's license plate number. For CDMA1X, the hashing algorithm -- which is a kind of pseudo random number generator -- is seeded with the handset's ESN or the subscriber's MDN/MSID (i.e. phone number). Unless the subscriber changes devices or phone numbers, these values remain static, hence the carrier channel hash is quite predictable. And Sprint, for reference, seems to use MDN/MSID based hashing. Nearly a decade ago, I built a spreadsheet that emulates the CDMA1X hashing algorithm, downloadable as an XLS file. However, for EV-DO, the carrier channel hash is not quite so outwardly predictable. To seed the hashing algorithm, EV-DO uses a session number, which obviously varies from data session to data session. Each time that a handset powers up, crosses a SID/NID boundary, or even toggles airplane mode, for example, generates a new EV-DO data session, hence a new session number. And it is this session number that determines the output of the hashing algorithm. To demonstrate this process, I positioned myself in one location about a quarter of a mile distant from the north sector of a local cell site. Over the course of several minutes, I grabbed three screen caps of the EV-DO engineering screen on one of my handsets. In between each screen cap, I cycled airplane mode at least once, each cycle generating a new data session. In the span of four minutes, I was able to get my handset to hash to each of the three EV-DO carrier channels deployed on this site. When I arrived at the site, my handset hashed to PCS 0175, which is the third EV-DO carrier channel (F3) in the channel list message. The second and third hashes after toggling airplane mode several times were to PCS 0150 (F2) and to PCS 0100 (F1). See the Channel Number field depicted in the screen caps: In addition, here is a raw RF look with a spectrum analyzer at the seven CDMA2000 carrier channels deployed on this cell site sector: The four CDMA1X carrier channels are PCS 0050, PCS 0075, PCS 0125, and PCS 0200. As is oft the case, the three aforementioned EV-DO carrier channels -- PCS 0100, PCS 0150, PCS 0175 -- are distinguishable by their slightly higher RF power output. Furthermore, for those curious, PCS 0025 (at the far left of the graph) and PCS 0225, PCS 0250, and PCS 0275 (at the right of the graph) are fallow spectrum on this site. If deployed, PCS 0025 would be the next EV-DO carrier channel (F4), PCS 0275 the final EV-DO carrier channel (F5), while PCS 0225 and PCS 0250 would be additional CDMA1X carrier channels. Back to the hashing algorithm, while it attempts to distribute users more or less evenly among available EV-DO carrier channels, it does not take into account several other factors, such as loading and backhaul. For example, if you are stuck on a carrier channel and sector with a few data hogs who have stronger signal than you do, your data speeds will likely suffer as the "fair and proportional" scheduler integral to the EV-DO airlink attempts to maximize total throughput by allocating greater time slots to the users with better signal quality. Additionally, backhaul may not be distributed evenly among deployed carrier channels, so it is possible that some carrier channels may have inherently greater data capacity than others do. Another benefit of rehashing to a different carrier channel is that you may be able to connect to a closer cell site. Because not all cell sites have the same number of deployed EV-DO carrier channels, carrier channel hashing is an imperfect process. To illustrate, the cell site (call it cell site "A") that I detailed above for this trial has three EV-DO carrier channels (F1, F2, F3), as duly noted. But the adjacent cell site to the north (call it cell site "B") has only two EV-DO carrier channels (F1, F2). A handset that hashes to F3 on cell site "A" will cling to carrier channel PCS 0175 even as it moves north well into the coverage area of cell site "B." Interference will not be a problem, as cell site "B" does not transmit PCS 0175, but signal strength (and data speeds) will diminish until cell site "A" drops below a network defined threshold, at which point the handset will handoff to cell site "B" and hash to PCS 0150. This can require substantial movement and/or time. So, if you always want the most crisp EV-DO handoffs, you can try to ensure that your handset always hashes to F1, the EV-DO carrier deployed on essentially every site in the market. To conclude, by no means is airplane mode a panacea for slow 3G data ills. EV-DO carrier channel deployment and backhaul can vary from site to site, while loading can also vary from site to site, even from minute to minute. And EV-DO networks in some cities are just generally overloaded. But if you are at work, in a restaurant, at a park, etc., and find yourself with unbearably slow 3G data or lower than usual signal strength for that location, try toggling airplane mode. A 30 second on/off cycle of airplane mode will start a new data session and could get your handset to rehash to another EV-DO carrier channel that is on a closer site, has better backhaul, and/or is currently less loaded. Sources: Qualcomm, author's field data
  44. 21 points
    by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 12:59 PM MDT As many of you already know, the ability to connect and keep connected to LTE signals in Sprint's launch markets has been problematic for Sprint customers. What's going on? Here at our forums at S4GRU, we have been busy talking with our members and trying to figure out the issue since LTE markets started going live last Thursday. Some members were able to connect early and often. Some had problems and were able to eventually connect. Some have been unable to stay connected. Some have never connected, even standing right next to a live LTE site. We have now complied a lot of data from our members and have drawn some observational conclusions. There are two main issues, connecting to LTE can be a challenge on some devices (especially the EVO LTE), and the signal thresholds are not optimum to keep connected to LTE before getting pushed back to the 3G EVDO network. I am in a confirmed LTE area with a strong signal but cannot connect Some LTE devices just do not want to connect to LTE. With the EVO LTE, some of our members have complained that they even stood next to a confirmed operating LTE site and the 4G icon would not appear. For most of these folks though, cycling from CDMA/LTE mode, back to CDMA only mode and then back to CDMA/LTE mode forces the phone to look for a LTE signal. This has worked for most people I have talked with who have an EVO LTE and know they are in a strong LTE signal area. This also seems to help some other LTE devices sometimes. There most likely is an issue where these devices are not scanning for LTE service like they should be. When you go out of CDMA/LTE mode and then come back in, the first thing the device does is scan for LTE service. Hopefully, Sprint will get an OTA out that fixes this issue soon. I can connect to LTE but it goes back to 3G EVDO Other members have discussed how they can connect to 4G LTE, whether automatically or by forcing it (as described above), but it goes back to 3G EVDO. They cannot keep a Sprint LTE connection. This may happen right away, or this may happen as they drive down the road, or after they pick up the device. By the best we can tell, this is being caused by the LTE signal thresholds programmed in the device(s). When your device is in CDMA/LTE mode, it seeks LTE first. If it finds LTE, it should connect, but if it doesn't have a strong enough signal, it shunts the user off to 3G, sometimes in seconds. The devices have a minimum LTE signal programmed in them (it appears to be somewhere in the midrange and could be slightly different between devices). If the LTE minimum signal that is programmed is maintained, the device stays connected to LTE, no problems in most instances. So if you have a strong LTE signal after you connect, you will most likely keep it. However, if you have a midrange LTE signal, you will likely get bumped back down to 3G EVDO if you should move farther away from the signal, or maybe even pick up the device. Most devices will drop a few dBm of signal when being held, and it could be enough to move you back down to 3G. If you have a weak LTE signal, then you are almost doomed. You will not likely be able to stay connected to LTE for very long and most likely be shunted back to 3G pretty quickly. An exception to this we noted is if you are also in a weak 3G area. But if you have a strong 3G signal and a weak LTE signal, you are most likely not going to be able stay connected with the current thresholds programmed. What can Sprint do? I know this is very frustrating for most of you. We all want it to work flawlessly. But this is part of the process. Sprint needs our constructive feedback so they can make changes. There are drawbacks to being early adopters. That is the point of this article. To wrap up some meaningful and thoughtful feedback from our members into a single comprehensive piece and give to Sprint for them to work on. As well as educate our members and readers into some of the information we have been able to determine. Sprint, please work with your OEM's right away on OTA's to adjust the thresholds for keeping LTE signals, as well as addressing the cycling through CDMA only mode to get devices to make initial LTE connection. One key point that I hear over and over again is that LTE customers would rather have a weak LTE signal than a strong 3G signal. Weak LTE still performs better than even good 3G in most instances. If anyone from Sprint would like to reach out to me and provide any updates of what they are doing to address the problem, I would love to receive a PM, email or Direct Message on Twitter. I will then be happy to provide an update for our members and readers. What can we do now? With WiMax devices, we could actually change the WiMax signal threshold ourselves. However, we have not been able to locate anywhere in the LTE devices where that can be done. So we are in a waiting position to see if Sprint will help us. If you absolutely cannot connect to LTE or stay connected to LTE, you can force your device into LTE only mode. If you do this, you will lose access to 3G EVDO and 1x services while in this mode. But it is reversible at any time. It requires your device's MSL code, though. You can get your MSL code by using some apps like MSL Reader, or by using a Terminal Emulator with some models. You can search the web for ways to get your MSL code of your particular device. Some people can even get it from Sprint CSR's. Once you have your MSL code, go into your phone dialer and enter ##DATA# (*#*#DATA#*#* on the Galaxy Nexus). A menu will open and ask you to select Edit or View. Select Edit. Enter your MSL number. Now in each device, there may be some variability in the next steps. Select the Others button, then choose HDR/1X selection. Select LTE Only mode. Now you will only be able to connect to LTE, no 3G or 1x. However, you will not be able to make/receive phone calls or text in this mode. Data only. Once in LTE Only mode, you will only be able to connect to LTE signals. Even weak LTE signals. And you will not have to worry about getting shoved off into 3G. This will allow you to test your LTE, and make sure your LTE is indeed working in your device. You could stay parked in this mode if you wanted to. You just wouldn't be able to use the phone or text. To restore to normal, just go back in the same way and select LTE/CDMA or LTE/CDMA/EVDO, depending on your device. If going into LTE only mode you are still unable to connect to LTE, then you are either not in LTE coverage like you thought you were, or your device has a problem. This is all we know at this time. We will update with more information as we learn it. Thank you to all who helped gather this information from the field. You guys are what make S4GRU an awesome place!
  45. 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
  46. 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
  47. 20 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.
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