• Hunting for Bell's 700Mhz


    With Bell announcing that they had begun to roll out 700Mhz LTE (band 17) in Upper Hamilton, myself, HC no 'i' and Steve Punter decided to go to Upper Hamilton to figure out how extensive the roll out is. We took along a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a Bell SIM card. We also brought along a Galaxy S4 with a TELUS SIM to figure out if TELUS is allowed on Bell's 700Mhz.

    We hunted the 700Mhz towers using Steve's very cool LTE Widget (not available on the Google Playstore but you can ask him for it).


    My cynical side figured 700Mhz was only located on one tower but we actually found 5:
    1. Upper Sherman & Rymal
    2. West 5th and Lime Ridge
    3. Upper James & Fennell
    4. Mohawk & Rice Avenue
    5. East 25th & Concession.




    There may be more but that's all we found. Anyways, not a huge roll out but we still found 500% more than I was expecting.

    700Mhz is not found on every single Bell site in the area . They're actually pretty spaced apart.

    As far as signal strength goes, not all the towers aren't turned up very high. Right next to one of the tower our phone told us that we had a signal strength of -64dbm which isn't very strong given our proximity. Then again another appeared to be running at full strength. I wonder how tuned the towers are.

    The 700Mhz is a 5Mhz pairing so the maximum speed is only 37.5Mbps. Just to compare, Bell's band 4 (AWS) is a 10Mhz pairing (up to 100Mbps) while their band 7 (2600Mhz) is a 20Mhz pairing (up to 150Mbps). We ran a few speed tests and got up to 21Mbps.



    So, it looks like band 17 is not all about speed. Assuming 700Mhz penetrates as well as we've heard it's going to be more about indoor and rural coverage. Since the maximum speed is 37.5Mbps and since it's meant more for rural coverage I wonder if these 2 things work against each other. Rural coverage usually means less towers but since the maximum speed is only 37.5Mbps they might need to built more if a lot of users are consuming a lot of data simultaneously. After all, if you usually get 1/6 of a pairing's theoretical maximum then 1/6 of 37.5Mbps is approximately 6Mbps which is very useful but not particularly fast.

    TELUS:

    We tried to get the S4 running TELUS onto Bell's band 17 but it's not allowed on. So, for now at least, TELUS isn't allowed on Bell's 700Mhz.



    Look at the screenshot taken with the TELUS phone, it says band 17 is available but the phone isn't able to get on (notice the no service indicator on the signal bar).

    Note that this is different than how TELUS see's Bell's Band 7 (2600Mhz). When it comes to Bell's Band 7 Telus phones don't see it at all so maybe TELUS might get to use it later.

    The 3 of us got to bask in 700Mhz for the first time in Canada. It should be interesting to see how the roll out goes and what real world benefits it brings.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Bell rolling out 700Mhz LTE in Upper Hamilton, Ontario starting April 3rd started by howard View original post
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. xero9's Avatar
      xero9 -
      Nice to see it CAN be deployed this quickly.

      On a side note, is there anywhere we can keep track of where it's been deployed?
    1. iamhacked's Avatar
      iamhacked -
      Wonder when Telus is going to deploy... especially in Edmonton

      Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
    1. xtachx's Avatar
      xtachx -
      So any telus subs can connect to Bell's 700 Mhz signal?
    1. xero9's Avatar
      xero9 -
      Quote Originally Posted by xtachx View Post
      So any telus subs can connect to Bell's 700 Mhz signal?
      I thought their LTE networks were separate?
    1. VivienM's Avatar
      VivienM -
      This must be the C block?

      (http://agora.ic.gc.ca/overview_eng.c...=0&p_color=yes)
    1. xtachx's Avatar
      xtachx -
      Quote Originally Posted by xero9 View Post
      I thought their LTE networks were separate?
      Only the 2600Mhz network is separate, the AWS network is shared. I am trying to figure out if 700 is shared or separate.
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Attachment 106732
      With Bell announcing that they had begun to roll out 700Mhz LTE (band 17) in Upper Hamilton, myself, HC no 'i' and Steve Punter decided to go to Upper Hamilton to figure out how extensive the roll out is. We took along a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a Bell SIM card. We also brought along a Galaxy S4 with a TELUS SIM to figure out if TELUS is allowed on Bell's 700Mhz.

      We hunted the 700Mhz towers using Steve's very cool LTE Widget (not available on the Google Playstore but you can ask him for it).

      Attachment 106724

      My cynical side figured 700Mhz was only located on one tower but we actually found 5:
      1. Upper Sherman & Rymal
      2. West 5th and Lime Ridge
      3. Upper James & Fennell
      4. Mohawk & Rice Avenue
      5. East 25th & Concession.


      Attachment 106733

      There may be more but that's all we found. Anyways, not a huge roll out but we still found 500% more than I was expecting.

      700Mhz is not found on every single Bell site in the area . They're actually pretty spaced apart.

      As far as signal strength goes, not all the towers aren't turned up very high. Right next to one of the tower our phone told us that we had a signal strength of -64dbm which isn't very strong given our proximity. Then again another appeared to be running at full strength. I wonder how tuned the towers are.

      The 700Mhz is a 5Mhz pairing so the maximum speed is only 37.5Mbps. Just to compare, Bell's band 4 (AWS) is a 10Mhz pairing (up to 100Mbps) while their band 7 (2600Mhz) is a 20Mhz pairing (up to 150Mbps). We ran a few speed tests and got up to 21Mbps.

      Attachment 106722

      So, it looks like band 17 is not all about speed. Assuming 700Mhz penetrates as well as we've heard it's going to be more about indoor and rural coverage. Since the maximum speed is 37.5Mbps and since it's meant more for rural coverage I wonder if these 2 things work against each other. Rural coverage usually means less towers but since the maximum speed is only 37.5Mbps they might need to built more if a lot of users are consuming a lot of data simultaneously. After all, if you usually get 1/6 of a pairing's theoretical maximum then 1/6 of 37.5Mbps is approximately 6Mbps which is very useful but not particularly fast.

      TELUS:

      We tried to get the S4 running TELUS onto Bell's band 17 but it's not allowed on. So, for now at least, TELUS isn't allowed on Bell's 700Mhz.

      Attachment 106721

      Look at the screenshot taken with the TELUS phone, it says band 17 is available but the phone isn't able to get on (notice the no service indicator on the signal bar).

      Note that this is different than how TELUS see's Bell's Band 7 (2600Mhz). When it comes to Bell's Band 7 Telus phones don't see it at all so maybe TELUS might get to use it later.

      The 3 of us got to bask in 700Mhz for the first time in Canada. It should be interesting to see how the roll out goes and what real world benefits it brings.
    1. sheytoon's Avatar
      sheytoon -
      RSRP of -64dBm is actually a very strong signal.
      Also, please keep in mind that even though the block is 6MHz paired, the LTE channel is only 5MHz paired.

      Peak DL theoretical speeds are:
      36.6 Mbps (5MHz 2x2 MIMO, similar to 700MHz)
      73.3 Mbps (10MHz 2x2 MIMO, similar to AWS)
      150.7 Mbps (20MHz 2x2 MIMO, similar to 2.6GHz) -- only if the device is category 4
    1. howard's Avatar
      howard -
      Quote Originally Posted by sheytoon View Post
      RSRP of -64dBm is actually a very strong signal.
      Also, please keep in mind that even though the block is 6MHz paired, the LTE channel is only 5MHz paired.
      That's true but it should have been even higher given how close we were to that tower.
    1. sheytoon's Avatar
      sheytoon -
      Really? I don't think I've ever seen an RSRP stronger than -60dBm in the field.
    1. TheSteve's Avatar
      TheSteve -
      The S4 is no superstar on 700 Mhz, try a Moto X and you guys will see a stronger signal.(although anything in the -60dbm range is already pretty nice)
    1. xero9's Avatar
      xero9 -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheSteve View Post
      The S4 is no superstar on 700 Mhz, try a Moto X and you guys will see a stronger signal.(although anything in the -60dbm range is already pretty nice)
      Steve, not sure if you know of a way or if it's even possible, but are we able to get a cell id from the phone and match it with a map online to find out specifically which tower we're connected to (and in turn figure out which ones have 700 Mhz)? On the iPhone I can see a cell id number, but not sure if there is any way to relate that to an actual tower.
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheSteve View Post
      The S4 is no superstar on 700 Mhz, try a Moto X and you guys will see a stronger signal.(although anything in the -60dbm range is already pretty nice)
      TheSteve,

      In the USA? Could you be kind enough to provide us more comparison with screenshots that differentiate the LTE Band 4 (AWS) from the 700MHz LTE Bands - be it 13 (with Verizon) or 17 (with at&t) in this case that a Moto X could observe?

      Steve Punter, Fellow howard and I specifically picked a few Samsung devices (not just the two GALAXY S4 SGH-I337M but also a Note 3 SM-N900W8; we also have brought a GALAXY S5 SM-G900W8 but the SIM card is not compatible with LTE) in our drive test Thursday night in Upper Hamilton because it can relatively easier to select a particular "band" on demand... i.e. it can lock on to the LTE Band 17 only

    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      Quote Originally Posted by sheytoon View Post
      RSRP of -64dBm is actually a very strong signal.
      Also, please keep in mind that even though the block is 6MHz paired, the LTE channel is only 5MHz paired.

      Peak DL theoretical speeds are:
      36.6 Mbps (5MHz 2x2 MIMO, similar to 700MHz)
      73.3 Mbps (10MHz 2x2 MIMO, similar to AWS)
      150.7 Mbps (20MHz 2x2 MIMO, similar to 2.6GHz) -- only if the device is category 4
      sheytoon,

      As you can see in our screenshots, the RSRQ parameters were relatively "great" as expected, likely not many subscribers were on the LTE Band 17 in that area. But I have mentioned many times that the current allocation of the 700MHz MBS spectrum in Canada would not realize the full potentials until carrier aggregation is deployed. 5x5MHz is not the magic bullet.
    1. sheytoon's Avatar
      sheytoon -
      Yep, I saw that. Still not sure why you are only getting 23Mbps DL? Your SINR is excellent @30dB! Maybe Bell is using more than one OFDM symbol for PDCCH.
    1. VivienM's Avatar
      VivienM -
      Crazy thought: do you guys who tested this have any Band 13-capable devices? Is there any possibility they deployed Band 13 in Hamilton as well?
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      VivenM,

      No (none of our gears support LTE Band 13 like Verizon) and it is up to TELUS or Videotron.
    1. VivienM's Avatar
      VivienM -
      Quote Originally Posted by HC - NO "i" View Post
      VivenM,

      No (none of our gears support LTE Band 13 like Verizon) and it is up to TELUS or Videotron.
      Oops, I forgot to check that lovely table before asking that... didn't realize that in southern Ontario, it's TELUS who has that band.

      Quebec and Ottawa should be interesting...