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dkyeager

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  1. Dave YeagerSprint 4G Rollout UpdatesFriday, February 8, 2019 - 8:00 AM PST Sprint’s tribanding project has reached a new phase -- former Clear LTE 2500 only sites are getting new equipment as reported by nowerlater in Cincinnati, Joski1624 in Cleveland, and here in Columbus. Converting sites from LTE 2500 only to triband LTE 800 MHz, LTE 1900 MHz, and LTE 2500 will significantly improve network performance in the traditional metropolitan areas of markets where Clear sites reside. Adding LTE 1900, LTE 800, CDMA 1x1900, and 1x800 will mean stronger signal with improved building penetration that will allow surrounding sites to better serve their more immediate coverage areas. This added site density will be a key factor in performance improvements needed for high quality VoLTE (Voice over LTE) service. Upon completion, site density for the non-LTE 2500 bands will increase an astonishing 57% in Franklin County (Columbus) Ohio. There are currently 162 macro sites not counting factory and private office building sites. There are 93 stand-alone Clear sites. Hamilton County (Cincinnati) will show a 61% increase in site density for the non-LTE 2500 bands. Additional Clear sites lie outside these counties in both markets. The level of increase will vary from market to market. Market wide LTE 1900 performance will improve if this increased site density allows for fewer 1x1900 CDMA carriers per site. This would allow refarming of spectrum to increase the bandwidth for LTE 1900. Minimum LTE bandwidth allowed by many of Sprint’s Remote Radio Units has been increased in recent months according to the FCC. This will be market dependent. There will be a 50% or more LTE 2500 capacity improvement at most Clear sites. Mini Macro Clear sites broadcast only one or two carriers, while most metropolitan areas triband sites broadcast three carriers with up to five carriers at some sites. The tribanded Clear sites go from having Mini Macros to 8T8R remote radio units at most sites, but some sites may retain existing Mini Macros in some markets. With 8T8R, these tribanded Clear sites will also get improved performance and coverage. Samsung Clear equipment used in portions of the south and east often have three carriers thus will primarily gain benefits from the improved coverage of the 8T8Rs. Tribanding the Clear Mini Macro sites will also improve the LTE 2500 performance of surrounding triband sites. If your phone is on the third carrier and you currently drive into an area primarily served by a Clear site your triband site signal will get weaker and weaker until it drops. The LTE 2500 at these existing Triband sites currently carries an extra burden. Permit Foreshadowing Let’s dive further into the details. We have been watching for these site builds for many months. Permits were first seen in the early fall in Columbus, for example: ALTC1800834: ANTENNA UPGRADE TO AN EXISTING CELL SITE OF SPRINT. REMOVE (3) ANTENNAS, (3) MM RRUS, AND (3) 15/64" COAX. INSTALL (3) ANTENNAS, (9) RRHS, (3) 1-1/16" HYBRID CABLES, GC SUPPLIED RET CABLES, (3) OPTIC FIBER JUNCTION CYLINDERS, (3) POWER JUNCTION CYLINDERS, (1) SITEPRO SNP-12NP SECTOR MOUNT AND HANDRAIL KIT. REMOVE EXISTING CLEARWIRE GROUND CABINETS AND INSTALL ALL NEW SPRINT ECAB & ICAB COMBINATION CABINET AND PPC ON NEW CONCRETE PAD. REMOVE ALL POWER AND FIBER CABLING TO RRHS. Permits and drawings were also found in Sacramento by our resident staff Tim (lilotimz), with one site even going from CA to Massive MIMO: The Network Vision plus LTE 2500 using 8T8R LTE 2500, LTE 1900, and Four Port LTE 800,and the much rarer Massive MIMO LTE 2500/5G future, LTE 1900 and Four PORT LTE 800. A big question was whether the sites would have CDMA or just be VoLTE. Most Sprint phones in use today can only use CDMA. OceanDave picked up the first Clear Triband Conversion signal in his logs recorded on 11/30/2018. Joski1624 found and confirmed CDMA 1x1900 and 8T8R LTE 2500 at the site once the logs were analyzed in early January. Here is a screenshot from Joski1624 showing LTE 800 and 1x800 from the same Clear conversion site: Cleveland has confirmed other sites. Nowerlater has reported similar results covering bands 25 and 26 from other Clear sites converted to Triband in the Cincinnati Market Here is a photo of a Columbus Clear site being converted to Triband. You can see that the Clear Band 41(inside red outline) is still wired and was quite functional at the time of the photo. 1) Clear antenna (remove), 2) Mini Macro (remove for most sites), 3) Microwave antenna for redundant backhaul (will likely remain if present). This is becoming a Triband Hexadeacport 16 port Antenna Setup outlined in yellow with 1) 8T8R LTE 2500 Remote Radio Unit, 2) LTE 1900 Remote Radio Unit, 3) LTE 800 four port Remote Radio Unit, 4) 16-Port Triband Antenna. In this next photo you can see the old cabinet on its metal grate and the new cabinet on new concrete. The underground conduit needs to be placed then the concrete poured before you will see cabinets. Some of the sites will have double cabinets (permits say Eltek, but observed cabinets do not match catalog). Note that they are pre-assembled, in this case by Stonecrop Technologies. These sites are also getting new Purcell cable boxes. In Columbus, 86% of the Clear sites have permits. New permits are still being filed. We began finding permits for Clear conversions last October. Permits are active for one year. They can be extended, but typically the work will be done in that time period. It is quite possible the FCC will not approve the merger into T-Mobile until December or later based on the Shentel – nTelos merger. This merger could finish sooner or not at all. If the merger is approved this work would likely stop, but any completed site work would benefit existing Sprint customers during the estimated two to three year transition period (market dependent). If all Clear sites were converted to triband, here is an image of roughly where the sites would strongly benefit in the traditional Columbus metro area: Please note that actual site coverage areas are not circular but are shaped between a three bladed airplane propeller and a three leaf clover. There would be significant variations from the heat map above. Of course Columbus overall has Network Vision and other Next Generation triband sites. These Ohio markets mentioned have active S4GRU signal hunters, thus are likely a proxy for what is happening or will happen in other markets with active former Clear LTE 2500 only sites (for clarity we will now refer to them as Clear sites). Indeed lilotimz has found permits and drawing in Sacramento. Reddit user Marley3456 has confirmed triband Clear sites in Salt Lake City Utah, thus they very likely exist in other parts of the country. The following cities in state order all had more than 10 Clear sites with LTE in 2014 thus are likely prospects for this type of change: If your city is listed above, how will you know if you will benefit? Start looking looking at the Clear sites in your city today and be observant of any changes. Help is available here at S4GRU.com if needed. Online guides can help: Nokia Mini Macros on Macro Sites, Samsung LTE 2500 Remote Radio Units and Antennas. It will be worth knowing if your market will benefit from the significant capacity improvements of the Clear site Triband conversions! Edited 2/8/19 to better cover Samsung Clear Sites.
  2. Given the vendor contracts dividing up the country, these Samsung Clear sites will likely go through the same process mentioned above. They were mostly located in the south and east coast, but it should be noted that many of them were converted to Mini Macros. So if you see Clearwire third carrier LTE 2500 in Signalcheck Pro, it is still worth checking out the site for equipment for Tribanding.
  3. I am about in the same position at a mile away. I can get around 100Mbps of LTE 2500 in portions of my house from a Clear Mini Macro site. Historically my LTE 1900 and LTE 800 were pathetic and dropped calls on a regular basis (fortunately I rarely make calls). Recently it has been better since the closest Network Vision site was upgraded to Next Gen, but nothing to brag about (definitely essential to have if the Clear site goes down). My LG V20 phone can handle VoLTE, but Sprint is going at a slow pace in terms of VoLTE on specific models. I have many other phones without VoLTE capability so better CDMA would be great! Hopefully my permitted Clear Triband Conversion home site does get upgraded and also retained by T-Mobile (given a merger). Without the site AT&T is my best option, T-Mobile is acceptable but slow, Verizon is much worse. I live inside the beltway in a very competitive market. At various times all carriers have lead the Root Metrics Columbus market ranking for network reliability and call performance in recent years. Hopefully this will make it Sprint's turn again!
  4. https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/ny-public-service-commission-approves-t-mobile-sprint-merger
  5. The EARFCN does line up with what is LTE 2500 3rd carrier in most markets which is not possible with Mini Macros or the Clear LTE equipment. Definitely worth a look at the site for equipment for LTE 1900 and LTE 800. Edit: except Samsung Clear Equipment which can handle four carriers [credit: lilotimz].
  6. Sorry I missed that. I only saw discussion of new LTE 800 in the Seattle thread going back to November. There have reportedly been some Clear to NV conversions a few years ago especially in the upper peninsula of Michigan, but most were isolated cases. Many of these sites were basically public protection sites, but they did do a good job of covering their small town in the WiMAX days, often before any other carriers had LTE in those areas. Most of the Clear sites outside of major metro areas in Ohio were completely removed after the WiMAX shutdown, although one was later converted to LTE 2500 in Portsmouth, Ohio.
  7. In the Samsung markets (Midwest, northern West Coast) we have also seen the LTE 2500 GCIs change to match that of the LTE 1900 and LTE 800. The GCI sectors go to being sequentially ordered by sector across all bands. This is step 10 for the Samsung markets.
  8. It is quite possible you are at step 8 of the process so far as we understand it: 1) permits obtained, 2) tower improved if needed (plates added for strength, safety ropes changed, etc. 3) trenches dug and conduit installed, 4) concrete poured and cured [or metal grate expended according to some permits], 5) cabinets arrive and are positioned, 6) antennas installed then cables, 7) wait, 8)LTE 2500 Carrier Aggregation switched from Mini Macros to 8T8R, 9) LTE 2500 third carrier is soon added [sometimes next day], 10) LTE 1900 and 1x900 CDMA and then LTE 800 and 1x800 are added [uncertain of exact order]. Ultimately coverage of the new triband site and surrounding sites will need to be fine tuned which could take as long as a couple of months. You would want to find the site by GCI and look and/or take pictures to be certain. The first site in Cleveland was picked up around Thanksgiving in logs so your dates are reasonable.
  9. Here is an article that puts the odds of the merger at 40%. https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/t-mobiles-legere-calls-dish-a-spectrum-hoarder/d/d-id/749306? So we have a range of 40-90%. IMO it may be 2020 before we know. If you are a regulator why rush? The main premise is that Sprint will fail without a merger. The second argument is that the merger will benefit the rest of the country with a true competitor. If you stall as a regulator, you will get to see if Sprint gets traction on 5G. Given the fragmentation of the mmWave spectrum, with much still under auction, and its tremendous buildout requirements, Sprint's 2.5Ghz 5G will really be the only viable option for 6 months until the second 5G chipset comes out with support for midrange and low bands which T-Mobile and AT&T have announced plans to use.
  10. Most of us have learned that predictions of more than a month out by Sprint are risky. Once they get permits most of the work is done within a year (in my market, but they are sometimes allowed to die in mass in other markets). Of course a merger could occur any time during that period -- or not!! The best thing to do is watch site improvements and signals. Once work actually begins you can get more optimistic, but I would still not bet the farm.
  11. today's FCC filings: https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/102042192910190/Pricing Commitment Ex Parte 02.03.2019.pdf https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10204163125179/Legere Pricing Commitment Letter 02.01.2019.pdf
  12. While many people laugh at the idea of 600MHz 5G NR, I think it is brilliant. Doubling the slow speed at the edge of the cell will be far more useful/noticeable that going from 200Mbps to 400Mbps. The main issue is T-Mobile was not quick enough to get it included in the first 5G chipset. It will take much much longer to build out mmWave to be as noticeable.
  13. Many people can not afford or don't have the need for an ISP. Smartphones and LTE tablets are their computers. The carriers have tie-ins with streaming TV services like Netflix or Hulu which further enable this.
  14. The statement that 2.5 does not penetrate buildings is untrue. I can get 100Mbps inside my home on 2.5 CA with 64QAM and 2x2 MIMO. Now definitely lower frequencies are best at building penetration. I am wary of starting from the premise that 2.5 does not penetrate buildings and applying it to mmWave. Some of the things learned from 2.5 should help with mmWave. Massive MIMO would be first on my list. Picking the best reflected signal should help. They will also need overlapping sites. A big difference will be the carrier size. We will be going from today's 20Mhz to 100MHz for 2.5 5G NR and 400MHz for 28GHz 5G NR. The biggest question is how far can the phone transmit. Perhaps mmWave should be paired with a lower frequency like AWS for that reason, but it might already be too late for that decision. Today's small cells will likely have mmWave added plus they will need more. mmWave makes the most sense for dense areas. It could also be used to keep people who are close to cell sites from hogging a larger share of low frequency bandwidth to the detriment of those further out.
  15. I have heard that equipment shortages are what is holding 600MHz back.
  16. It is worse than what the article states. When I looked at the mmWave spectrum for some of the Verizon and AT&T 5g markets I saw heavily fragmented licenses with only occasional 100Mhz chunks, the rest being 50MHz. Licenses swapping and the standard being raised from 100MHz to 400MHz maximum channels is really what is needed for them. Likely awaiting the outcome of the 28MHz, 24MHz, and 39MHz auctions. T-Mobile has an ideal mmWave spectrum position in most of Ohio with 850Mhz contiguous of 28GHz spectrum including Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, but their marketing message has all been 600MHz 5GHz which won't come until the second 5G chipset from Qualcomm. Unfortunately for them so will other mid-band spectrum. Tower hands told me a number of months ago that almost all of the radios they were installing for the duo were 5G upgradeable. My local T-Mobile network contacts have told me that they have not been working on mmWave. This could be a strategic mistake by T-Mobile unless they plan on selling this spectrum or worry that it would contaminate their marketing message. The downtown and university areas should have enough density. They might need Sprint sites and small cells to pull it off. The merger could be almost a year off imo, if it occurs. Even then there are penetration issues in an area with lots of trees, although I tend to discount much of these concerns about mmWave given the same has been said about 2.5GHz.
  17. Most of us have abandoned ship because it does not get recorded into the main map from many phones. Root metrics hexagon based coverage maps or cell mapper (if you are in a non spreadsheet market) are recommended. SCP Pro recommended for active spreadsheet markets. Most have ways to defer sending data which can then be done over WiFi.
  18. Based on the Shentel nTelos Merger, my guess is one year from the Department of Justice approval for the FCC to hammer out all the details. It would be to Sprint users benefit to go that long so hopefully the planned updates are completed. That will be all you get until T-Mobile would convert your market which is planned to take 3 years.
  19. I think this is where the economies of scale of merging comes in. At that point we should see full blown expansion with stores IMO. Currently is T-Mobile just trying to cover the map to save on roaming and for marketing, making sure they meet minimal licenses requirements, acting like Sprint as I noted, dealing with equipment shortages as some T-Mobile RF engineers have mentioned, or doing expansions in stages. To me if you have cash, one tower climb makes the most sense. But I think T-Mobile is a marketing driven firm.
  20. The best way we get information is by people going to sites and taking pictures and using Signal Check Pro. Then you will know what is there and what coming. If you need help, just take pictures of every rack on the tower and post them here. For the price of your typical lunch, we are willing to share our sponsor data with you, which will help you find the right towers much much sooner.
  21. Are these shades of Sprint I am hearing from T-Mobile? Often Sprint has built its towers around here a number of miles from the nearest town. which results in lower speeds and the entire town is on one sector. I also wonder if T-Mobile is building out before backhaul, which is the usual way Sprint has handled adding bands and channels.
  22. This confusion could be eliminatedby adding: If PCI 450 or greater then SC#2 else MM#2. The upper limit is MagicBoxes starting at PCI 488 (which matches our market sheets) as mentioned here: Hopefully 5G has more PCIs available.
  23. So many groups have made up their minds first, find facts to back them later. In a more straightforward article would want to see the models assumptions in detail. The article quotes Dish, whose role is typically to drive up the costs of mergers. Without Dish doing that for the purchase of Clearwire, there possibly could have been billions more for Sprint network expansion or lower prices.
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