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Thread: Sprint roaming on VZW in Maine having problems

  1. #1
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    Sprint roaming on VZW in Maine having problems

    First ever thread or post in the Sprint sub-forum! This is for a friend (really).

    I have a friend who's used Sprint for many years, who ended up moving to the Bremen, ME area (04551).

    From what I can tell, looking at Sprint's coverage map, they have absolutely no native coverage there. So using deduction and what other carriers are available there that Sprint could roam on (legacy CDMA types), it would seem it's all on Verizon Wireless. Correct me if you know different.

    Well, this friend has living there for a couple of years now, using a Moto G6 on Sprint, without a bit of trouble, whether for voice calls or data use.

    He ended up inadvertently destroying his Moto G6 and, from his Sprint dealer, got newly hooked up with a Samsung A50. He now can only use it at his home location (literally), whether for voice calls or data. Apparently no service at most other locations as he ventures away from his home area (meaning that cell site).

    So my question is, since we know he's had successful and unimpeded roaming service with the previous device, what could be going on with this new A50? Is there some sort of installed roaming profile that typically gets used that might have been left out by a store employee, that broadens out roaming privileges to all area sites as opposed to just select ones (such as the one his home is located in)? Or even some simple settings in the phone that could enable proper roaming behavior?

    Your suggestions are welcome.

    Additional: I'm aware in the past on VZW's non-LTE network that PRL lists were used, but in the LTE era for them that has been dropped (it's supposed to be dealt with automatically). But what about Sprint? Does Sprint use a PRL list that needs to be periodically updated (specifically meaning manually, or forced if needed)? I'm checking out the PRL thread here now, but chime in about that ASAP.

    Also now know that US Cellular covers that area too, so it's possible he's been roaming on them as opposed to VZW. No way for us to know at this point.
    Last edited by whacker; 11-13-2019 at 03:27 PM.

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    It has been a couple of years since I actively used Sprint. As of then, Sprint did use PRLs and I had to update them manually in Settings. There was also Update Profile which I don't know what that does.

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    After reading around a bit, I'm convinced he needs to update his PRL, so I looked it up on Sprint's website for his phone model. Pretty simple. Now if he can only get my message with the link to that support page!

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    No improvement after doing a PRL update. in fact, now he can't make voice calls from home. I recommended getting to a Sprint store pronto, nearest being Portland, ME.

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    does your friend have roaming enabled in the phones settings ??

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    If they did a prl update while roaming, it probably loaded one on for us cellular or verizon, whoever he was roaming on. Prl updates must be done in native coverage. Probably just being in the vicinity of the portland store and doing an update (making sure it's on sprint then...) would fix it.

    Sent from my BBB100-3 using HoFo mobile app

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    In Bremen, as in most of Maine, it's more likely extended roaming on US Cellular than VZW.

    Can't speak to that area, but up in Hancock County, Sprint extended roaming on US Cellular works better than VZW works on VZW. There is much more USC coverage in Maine than VZW (although it often drops to 3G, something is better than nothing) and Sprint has extended roaming on USC. Extended roaming counts as native coverage. But you probably have to have data roaming enabled.

    Pretty sure PRL updates won't work while roaming on US Cellular. The nearest native Sprint coverage would be along I-295 - Gardiner, Brunswick, Bath - or the Sprint map shows native coverage around Belfast.

    Easy step one is to be sure voice & data roaming is turned on on the phone.

    There could also be something messed up on Sprint's end. A couple of years ago we were up there and in USC areas, my phone worked fine but my wife's (identical model) had no service. I spent most of a week on the phone with Sprint, doing lots of network resets, insisting the problem was on their end, they finally elevated it and one day her phone started working.

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    Does that Samsung A50 even have CDMA? The Moto G6 did. I think some versions of the A50 (particularly Verizon) do not have CDMA, although Sprint ought to still be selling CDMA phones.

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    Sprint will go to USCC first, then Verizon. They should get LTE on USCC, but since they're living there, they really need to switch to either Verizon or USCC. AT&T uses a lot of like-native roaming on Northeast Wireless, which is fine for traveling through, but not for living there. I traveled through that area a year and a half ago with Sprint, and USCC roaming was rock solid (for Maine anyway), if a bit slow on LTE. I don't know if Sprint is depri compared to native USCC, if USCC's network is just slow, or both.

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    Thanks for all that good info.

    I believe the guy was probably NOT in a native Sprint coverage area when he did his latest PRL update. And he didn't have roaming enabled (or had inadvertently switched it off). Correcting that, he's doing better with data, but he's still having trouble with voice service.

    When one does a PRL update (while in a proper native Sprint coverage area), should that take care of both data and voice service, as far as that aspect of configuration?

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    Quote Originally Posted by whacker View Post
    When one does a PRL update (while in a proper native Sprint coverage area), should that take care of both data and voice service, as far as that aspect of configuration?
    It should take care of voice/text (CDMA). I don't think PRL lists have anything to do with LTE, but I could be wrong, as the whole LTE/CDMA thing is a bizarre kludge for CDMA carriers that jumped right to LTE.

    I just realized that they could end up on T-Mobile for data and USCC or Verizon for voice/text, since T-Mobile has some native service in that area. That being said, if they're living there full time, they need to switch to USCC, Google Fi, or Verizon for service, as Sprint doesn't offer native service there.

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    Some of my family have Sprint, and my wife and I did until about 2 years ago. Here in Oregon, Sprint made a PRL change a couple years back that made it extremely difficult to roam on Verizon. This for phones that had been roaming seamlessly for years suddenly became almost unusable for roaming on Verizon. My brother and wife live on the northern Oregon coast and while his home and work are native Sprint, Verizon fills in many gaps for them. He called me recently to say their phones are now having major problems just making calls in some areas. My brother isn't super technical but its likely Sprint reduced the available Verizon roaming as I know they did on the southern Oregon coast and in central Oregon in the past. Around that same time (the aggressive PRL came out limiting Verizon roaming), folks were reporting ATT roaming in some areas. Unfortunately for my brother, ATT is basically non-existent in those same coastal areas Verizon used to fill in-- so if it's ATT or nothing, he'll get the nothing.

    Also if it matters and a newer phone would help, he has an iPhone 6 and iPhone SE.


    So to the forum posters maybe it's useful to know that Sprint can and has changed roaming even on a regional basis. I also realize PRLs are CDMA, but last I checked the Verizon roaming that was available was not LTE. i.e. in non geek your phone roaming on Verizon worked great for basic voice and text, maybe not so great for data.

    And yep, Sprint roams LTE on US Cellular, but no US Cellular in the north-west corner of our home state. They've never had service in these locations although they do serve several other regions of Oregon.

    And of course if anyone knows what the plan is I'd appreciate comments. i.e. if you familiar with say northern Oregon coastal and if they plan to build out t-mobile and provide roaming there or whatever. Or if T-mobile has the coverage, maybe they shutting Verizon as it will be available post-merger. dunno.

    -Dan
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    http://pages.uoregon.edu/dalbrich
    Eugene, OR -- Pacific Northwest

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    AFAIK, Sprint's CDMA roaming is done nationwide, as CDMA can't do it on a per-tower or per-area basis like HSPA+/LTE can. I wonder if Verizon has degraded their CDMA service to such a point in that area that it no longer works reliably at all? Sprint's Verizon roaming does't really work for data at all, as it's using 1xRTT at 144kbps, which quickly gets congested beyond a point of any usefulness.

    I'd say if someone needs Verizon coverage, then they should get Verizon. Who knows what will happen with Sprint, given that there is the T-Sprint merger that may or may not happen, and Verizon is shutting down CDMA at the end of 2020.

    Last time I saw Sprint roaming on AT&T, there was SOS-only for voice, but 256kbps throttled data on LTE (no HSPA+ data). I don't know if they have since gotten a voice roaming deal with AT&T through HSPA+ or VoLTE. It's also rare to have AT&T service with no Verizon to rely on for voice, it's much more often the case that Sprint will have Verizon CDMA for voice with AT&T LTE for data if no Sprint, T-Mobile, or USCC is available.

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    Thank you

    Quote Originally Posted by SoxFan76 View Post
    AFAIK, Sprint's CDMA roaming is done nationwide...
    Thank you for the informative and thoughtful reply. I did advise my brother to flip to Verizon proper even if he has to pay a higher rate. i.e. In many places at least for basic coverage, some folks only have one real choice.

    The thing that historically made Sprint viable in coastal Oregon was lots of fill-in roaming. Good bad or indifferent, that roaming has been limited.

    And yes, I agree if you find you really need roaming on X carrier, best to change to X.

    -Dan

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalbrich View Post
    Thank you for the informative and thoughtful reply. I did advise my brother to flip to Verizon proper even if he has to pay a higher rate. i.e. In many places at least for basic coverage, some folks only have one real choice.

    The thing that historically made Sprint viable in coastal Oregon was lots of fill-in roaming. Good bad or indifferent, that roaming has been limited.

    And yes, I agree if you find you really need roaming on X carrier, best to change to X.

    -Dan
    Yeah, that's pretty much it. Some places only have one carrier that works well. Relying on Roaming in this day and age generally isn't a good idea, unless it's Extended coverage like LTEiRA or USCC on Sprint/T-Mobile.

    There are prepaid and MVNO plans for those who need rural Verizon coverage, as congestion generally isn't an issue in those areas (although in some places people are using LTE as home internet because their local telco has failed to provide adequate broadband so that can really slow things down).

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