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Thread: My Take on the LTE Experience on Rogers

  1. #1
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    My Take on the LTE Experience on Rogers

    I've recently posted my full review of the Samsung Galaxy S II LTE on my web page at:

    http://www.arcx.com/sites/Samsung Galaxy S II LTE.htm

    Howard Chui (the man behind HoFo of course) arranged a loaner phone for me last week so that I could write a review and evaluate this model as a replacement for my aging Captivate. As it turns out, I did indeed end up purchasing an S2 LTE for myself, so that should give you some idea of what I thought to if. Anyway, I'd emailed Howard with my experiences with LTE and he asked me to post them here on HowardForums, a as a new thread in the Rogers forum.

    A large chunk of my review was dedicated to my take on the LTE network, because it was the main reason why I chose to buy the phone. I'm going to reproduce what I said in that review word for word, and then I'll add a few extra paragraphs at the end.

    Now before I get started I'd like to point out that my testing was done mostly in the Mississauga area, where the Rogers LTE coverage is beyond reproach. I'm sure that some of you had issues with the LTE network in other parts of the GTA, especially in the fringe areas, and I'm not discounting your experiences here. I also cannot comment on the Bell/Telus LTE coverage, because I have had no chance to try it out. Furthermore, I can't know at this stage what increased use of the LTE network will do it over time, I can only comment based on its current level of load.

    The LTE Experience

    So what's the big deal with LTE? In a word, SPEED. The LTE network is markedly faster than the HSPA+ network in virtually every use-case you can think of. But it's not just the raw data rate that is better on LTE, it's also the latency.

    When surfing the web, latency (or ping time as it is commonly referred to) plays a major role in how fast we perceive the experience to be. Latency is stated in milliseconds and it refers to the time it takes to send a request to a server and get a response back. Web pages typically include hundreds of small images, each of which must be individually requested by the browser. Latency will slow down this process on each and every request.

    If you have a good DSL or cable internet connection at home, you'll typically see ping times in the 10 to 40 millisecond range, but with HSPA this goes way up to 80 to 200 milliseconds. On LTE you'll typically see ping times in the range of 35 to 80 milliseconds. The difference between LTE and HSPA is often startling. Even if LTE had the same raw data rate as HSPA, it would still seem faster due to lower latency.

    When it comes to raw data rates, the maximum speed of an HSPA device varies depending upon which HSPA version it supports. Early HSPA devices could only achieve a maximum speed of 3.6 megabits per second and in reality they were lucky to reach 1.5 megabits. Next came devices capable of 7.2 megabits (such as the Captivate). Under ideal conditions users of these devices could see up to 6 megabits. After that we move into HSPA+, of which there are various versions, including 14 megabits, 21 megabits, and dual-channel 42 megabits.

    The problem with HSPA+ however, is that in order to get anywhere near these theoretical maximum speeds (and you almost never get better than halfway there) you need a very strong signal and the device typically needs to be stationary. On the move, most HSPA+ devices switch to 7.2-megabit HSPA and deliver transfer rates that are typically around 3 megabits.

    LTE on the other hand has a theoretical maximum speed of 75 megabits (at the present time) and I've personally seen speeds of 60 megabits down and 19 megabits up. During a drive along Highway 403 through Mississauga (at 100 km/h or slightly above) I ran countless speed test on the S2 LTE and I saw consistent results of 10 to 15 megabits down and 5 to 7 megabits up, with latency in the 35 to 50 millisecond range. I often ran those tests when I knew I was between sites.

    I've found that signal penetration on the Rogers LTE network in Toronto is about equal to the 1900 MHz HSPA network. This isn't surprising since LTE in Canada presently operates on 1700 MHz. While that does mean that an 850 MHz HSPA signal can penetrate further into a building, by the time LTE drops out of the picture the speed on HSPA will have become almost unusable at less than 250 kilobits down and ping times of 200 to 300 milliseconds. When LTE is at its fringe limits it still provides fairly impressive latency and data speeds are often in excess of 2 megabits.

    In my experience, the usability of LTE far exceeds that of HSPA, especially in fringe coverage situations. While raw speed does degrade on LTE as the signal gets weaker, the latency remains remarkably consistent. HSPA on the other hand sees a marked degradation in latency right along with a drop in raw speed, making it difficult to use HSPA in circumstances where LTE still feels like its flying along.

    I've heard many people say that having such high data rates will cause users to BURN through their monthly bucket of data in less than an hour. It's theoretically possible, but I find it hard not to laugh when I hear this, because having a fast connection won't make you suddenly prone to downloading 10 GB files. You'll most likely continue to use your phone much as you had been on HSPA, with the occasional extreme uses.

    If you weren't using all of your monthly data before, it's highly unlikely you'll blow over it on LTE, unless of course you insist on doing countless speed tests to impress your friends. On LTE a single test using SpeedTest.net can consume as much as 25 MB. Just 40 such tests will therefore consume 1 GB. Beware of that. The only real danger comes when people try to replace their home internet connection with a tethered LTE phone or an LTE dongle. Check your monthly data consumption on your home connection before you make this potentially foolhardy decision.

    The phone does have an issue with its display of BARS on LTE. In his review Howard commented on the excellent speeds he noticed with just 1 bar of service. Throughout my testing of the phone I found that the bars were way too low and I'd see 1 bar more often than not. Only on one occasion did the signal get strong enough to push the phone to 5 bars. The signal reading provided on the phone's status bar is therefore horrendously misleading.

    I turned instead of the data presented by the "Service Mode" screen, which is available by dialing *#0011#. Most of the information on this screen are completely different from the sort of data provided for HSPA, but the key values are called RSRP (which is essentially the signal level in dBm) and RSRQ (which is the signal quality). The dBm readings are vastly lower than we are used to seeing on HSPA and GSM, in which service begins to deteriorate rapidly at -100 dBm and below. For LTE we don't see any major degradation in service until we reach -118 dBm.

    Now there's no evidence to suggest that is an accurate portrayal of the signal strength, but since both my phone and the one Howard loaned me produced identical results, it is the way the current firmware on the phone presents it. It might be this that causes the exceptionally low number of "bars", because the tick-over points for the various bars seem to be tied to dBm values that are typical of HSPA. If the meter was calibrated with the expectation of dBm values in the "normal" range, then this could explain the unrealistically-low readings the phone provides. Hopefully this will be fixed in future firmware upgrades.

    I went into this without any real concept of how day-to-day use of LTE would be. Sure, I was mightily impressed with the raw speeds I'd seen on occasional demonstrations of LTE up to that point, but I wasn't sold that this could be sustained throughout normal use. After an intense week of testing LTE under every condition I could however, I've concluded that it really is a major step forward.

    Forget the occasional speed bursts that are through the roof (I saw 61 megabits the other day) and focus instead on ping times and overall usability. What LTE does (better than HSPA can ever hope to do) is to provide network latency that is fast enough to make most of what you do on the phone seem as fast as when you do it at home. And it can maintain this level of competency throughout virtually all mobile conditions. For me, it turned a mediocre wireless data experience (HSPA) into one that rivals my home internet connection. Because of LTE, mobile internet has finally come of age.

  2. #2
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    Crazy when you can download faster from your cell phone than you can from your desktop computer...

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    Your LTE experience sounds darn impressive. I know a lot of ppl will see it's a bit too much of a read for them but there's tons of useful info in there. Thanks for taking the time
    Contact me for your real estate needs! www.johnpham.ca

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    ...and this is why any wireless provider that also sells home internet will make darn sure to price it/cap it so you aren't tempted to cut your landline.

    FIDO $60/10GB + 5 hours unlimited data
    WIND $15 AITF unlimited data (10GB full speed)


    All my posts are my own opinion only and not necessarily that of any of my employers, past or present.

  5. #5
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    Wireless internet is still a finite resource and no one is going to let users go nuts. Look what's been happening with Mobilicity just recently over data caps. Even they consider heavy users ABUSERS.

    There's no way that for the foreseeable future we'll see LTE capable of the sort of bandwidth necessary to allow providers to let each and every subscriber chug down 100 GB per month.

    This may change as the technology progresses, and perhaps there will come a time when all of our data is provided wirelessly.

    Sent from my SGH-I727R using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    My experience with LTE is very much the same. I'm also based in Mississauga and have done virtually all of my testing on the west end. The lowest data rate I was able to obtain was in a fringe area where I downloaded at 4 mbps. At this location, Rogers HSPA network frequently drops out or fails to deliver on the data end, so I'm quite impressed with how well it manages to do even with a weak signal.

    The device itself (SGH-I727R, Samsung Galaxy SII LTE) is powerful and manages to do anything I ask of it without hesitation, but there are a few glitches in Samsung's implementation of Android on this phone. They seem to have removed the voice dialing feature that allows you to use hands free voice dialing with a bluetooth device. This is a glaring omission on the part of Samsung and I can only hope it is corrected with the release of ICS later this quarter. I've also had the device reboot itself on me once as soon as I finished a phone conversation.

    The biggest problem with the Galaxy SII LTE is it's battery life. I was in Toronto yesterday for 5 hours and my Galaxy managed to lose 75% of it's battery with minor use. This can be attributed to it's large Super AMOLED screen as well as it's separate, power hungry LTE radio, which in this case was constantly trying to search for a signal. More often than not I had HSPA service (identified as 4G on this device) but I can only assume that the device was constantly searching for an LTE signal. My recommendation is that in areas with weak signals the device should be put into HSPA mode to save on battery life.

    Overall I'm impressed with both the network and the phone. The experience should improve even more once Rogers gets access to 700mhz spectrum.

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    Charge mine every two days, work in Markham live in in Toronto.

  8. #8
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    I to don't have the really bad battery experience as you. Perhaps you have a misbehaving background app or service responsible got the battery drain.

    Sent from my SGH-I727R using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Steve Punter; 01-19-2012 at 03:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Punter View Post

    There's no way that for the foreseeable future we'll see LTE capable of the sort of bandwidth necessary to allow providers to let each and every subscriber chug down 100 GB per month.

    This may change as the technology progresses, and perhaps there will come a time when all of our data is provided wirelessly.

    Sent from my SGH-I727R using Tapatalk
    I believe LTE-advanced could provide the answer to true wireless broadband.

  10. #10
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    You should and come here at 404/steeles and test here . all your calls go straight to your voice mail and no txt come true. LTE is great for speed and tabs but me, i travel all over the gta and borders of the gta and having a LTE phone is horrible !
    75% of the calls go to voice mails and also txt do not come in.
    You have to put your phone in edge mode then in hspa+ to receive calls again.
    i figured that out for my self and being on the phone with tech support they said the same thing .
    no solution yet.
    i have tried it on every LTE phone and TAB. (raider, lte s2, lte tab 8.9 etc etc)
    When you put your sim from a LTE pad and then remove it to your hspa phone , again NO calls come true to your phone. unless you force it in edge then HSPA, there are huge write ups on the rogers.com forums.
    i dont think lte is ready , makes sence why iphone and others dont have lte phones ready

  11. #11
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    Rogers can't operate their HSPA network...why would anyone think the LTE is any better?

  12. #12
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    As I noted in my original post, my experiences are limited to Mississauga and west Toronto. I don't get out east all that often, but if I get a chance I'll head out to Highway 404 and Steeles area to see what happens to my phone.

    Sent from my SGH-I727R using Tapatalk

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Punter View Post
    I to don't have the really bad battery experience as you. Perhaps you have a misbehaving background app or service responsible got the battery drain.

    Sent from my SGH-I727R using Tapatalk
    Have you configured your email sync to push settings? That's probably what's doing it for me as I want an experience similar to my BlackBerry. All I know is that right now the SIM card is in my BlackBerry and the Galaxy has last a total of 25% battery since this morning with only wifi access. It has something to do with the LTE service. Tomorrow I'm going to force it to HSPA service only and see how it does.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by WorldIRC View Post
    Rogers can't operate their HSPA network...why would anyone think the LTE is any better?
    I generally disagree with this statement. Rogers HSPA network isn't the greatest, but I generally don't suffer from dropped calls or slow data service with the exception of in areas where I get a weak signal. Those areas tend to be few and far between within the city.

  15. #15
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    Nothing wrong with rogers i have been with all 3 providers and all have there ups and downs .
    im talking about LTE its just not 100% ready yet from my experience.
    lots has to do with phone as well , My Galaxy Note is excellent amazing phone (best performer), i727 has been amazing as well just cant handle the switch from lte to hspa. Rogers is familiar with the isue and its all new.

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