AndroidGood and EVO

Here’s why your triband LTE Sprint phone won’t connect to LTE

Sprint Spark

If you just picked up a triband LTE phone for use with Sprint service, but you’ve discovered that it won’t seem to connect to LTE on its own, there is a good reason. It turns out that Sprint is purposely offering triband LTE customers a degraded network experience in areas where its Network Vision rollout isn’t complete.

Before we continue, this only affects several devices: the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Galaxy S4 mini, the Galaxy Mega, the LG G2, the Google Nexus 5, and the HTC One max.

Before Sprint started selling these triband devices, the LTE devices on offer all supported two separate transmission paths on CDMA 1xRTT and on LTE. This allowed customers to continue making and receiving texts and phone calls while remaining connected to the LTE network. The technology behind that is Simultaneous Voice and LTE (SVLTE), and the current triband devices on offer do not support this.

Instead, the One max, Nexus 5, and G2 are only technologically capable of handling one transmission path – either CDMA for voice or texts, or LTE for data. Luckily, Sprint’s network theoretically can handle this, and let the device know when to connect to CDMA and when to connect to LTE. That way, if a customer is streaming a movie or LTE, the network can tell the phone to temporarily disconnect from LTE to receive a phone call.

This type of network technology that allows such seamless switching is called Circuit Switched Fallback (CSFB) and Enhanced Circuit Switched Fallback (eCSFB). Unfortunately, Sprint hasn’t deployed this to most of its network yet. Areas that don’t have it already have no expected time frame for the rollout of this network technology, and since your smartphone is designed to prefer the ability to make and receive phone calls at all costs, it is programmed to stay on CDMA.

A temporary work around is to force the phone to connect manually to LTE only in the phone’s hidden network settings, but the side effect is that calls and texts won’t go through.

Obviously, this is a real problem – it’s one that Sprint has not been transparent about, that is affecting lots of people in lots of areas. Ideally, Sprint would warn customers of the situation before buying an affected device, but this hasn’t been the case.

So be forewarned before buying your next smartphone. It might be best to hold on to that EVO 4G LTE or HTC One a bit longer, before upgrading to a newer device.

[GeekThanks, Michel!

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John F

John was the editor-in-chief at Pocketables. His articles generally focus on all things Google, including Chrome and Android, although his love of new gadgets and technology doesn't stop there. His current arsenal includes the Nexus 6 by Motorola, the 2013 Nexus 7 by ASUS, the Nexus 9 by HTC, the LG G Watch, and the Chromebook Pixel, among others.

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17 thoughts on “Here’s why your triband LTE Sprint phone won’t connect to LTE

  • Wow. That is completely unacceptable, why do they keep downgrading features. My evo 4g lte could do 3g and 4g while in a call. Now my s4 can only do 4g while in a call. Now new phones can’t do any while in a call plus not even have 4g till they deploy the tech. Who’s the idiot making these decisions

    Reply
  • Avatar of rkb6581

    The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is a tri-band LTE as well. I haven’t seen any issues here in DFW, though.

    Reply
    • DFW is not one of the CSFB impacted areas.

      From the article above, “It turns out that Sprint is purposely offering triband LTE customers a degraded network experience in areas where its Network Vision rollout isn’t complete.”

      Reply
  • Will the Snapdragon 805 chip have SVLTE?

    Reply
  • I’m not quite understanding what this means:
    “It turns out that Sprint is purposely offering triband LTE customers a degraded network experience in areas where its Network Vision rollout isn’t complete.” So there isn’t an issue where they’ve officially announced LTE? I’ve been getting LTE for months but my home area doesn’t appear to be on the “official map/list” of coverage.

    My Evo LTE is in bad shape and needs to be replaced and my Sprint contract is up in May. My plan is to get a N5 (from Google Play) and run out my Sprint contract, then switch to another carrier.

    Does this mean that I’ll definitely lose LTE for the next several months? Is this impacting Ting customers who have N5s as well?

    Reply
    • For what it’s worth I got my N5 today and LTE works just fine where I’m at.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Chaoticwhizz

    If you go to the Sprint website for the Nexus 5, it says that it currently does not support Sprint Spark but will in the future after a software update. Does this mean that the Nexus 5 will not have the LTE problem you mention yet? Is anyone seeing issues on the Nexus 5 on Sprint for this?

    Reply
    • Avatar of Terrell

      Sprint will have the issues resolved by March. They are no longer launching cities without these issues being resolved. Also the N5 only has band 25 aka 1900 PCS LTE enabled right now and will need a software update along with the LG G2 to enable bands 26 aka 800 SMR and band 41 aka 2500 LTE. It can still be affected from these issues since it still uses eCSFB like any other triband device.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Terrell

    There are 5 Triband phones not 3. HTC ONE Max, LG G2, LG Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy Mega and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Galaxy S4 Triband on the way and also the LG FLEX on Sprint will be triband.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Fifth313ment

    Sprint is a joke and I’m so happy I switched to T-Mobile a few months ago. On my Note 3 I always get speeds of 10-30Mb down and 2-20Mb up, whether on LTE or HSPDA+. No more LTE connected but not outputting, issues with calls, Sprint coverage issues, incredibly slow speeds and more Sprint excuses. That is all Sprint is full of (lol) other than something else I can’t say. :P

    5th

    Reply
  • I have a Nexus 5 on Sprint and don’t have any issues with LTE, 3G, or Voice as long as I have a signal.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Fifth313ment

      Yeah and my car drives, as long as I have gas…

      Reply
  • Sprint, delivering what they have always done best. A crappy patch-work half-baked network.

    Meanwhile they are considering buying TMobile, yet another incompatible technology for their current phones/users.

    It’s like they wake up every day scheming how to botch their customer experience and how to move the carrot down the road a couple more years.

    Disgusting to think they could be allowed to obliterate an innovator like TMobile.

    Reply
    • After all the digs at Sprint in yesterday’s T-Mobile press conference, it almost seems like T-Mobile really isn’t interested in Sprint. Perhaps Dish Network is a more likely purchaser.

      Reply
      • Avatar of Fifth313ment

        I don’t understand why Deutsche Telekom would want to sell T-Mobile? In a year they could be valued at twice what they are now. They are growing faster than the other 3 combined! Why not pause the sale and wait for more money if anything?

        5th

        Reply

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