Help Needed: Mapping LTE Bandwidth

There are multiple factors that influence the data speed you experience: the device you use, the network operator, the time of day, the signal quality where you are. We’re building models of how these factors come together, we’ll be publishing our results and it’s our hope that they will guide the industry on how best to improve user experience.

We’re focussing on LTE currently because there are a lot of signal quality variables accessible. But, one important factor is missing from our model.

The LTE bandwidth is the quantity of spectrum over which the device sends information. There should be a roughly linear relationship between bandwidth and speeds, though it will also depend on the band used (which gives the area of spectrum being used – the frequency).

LTE bandwidth and band are not available through Android APIs. Some devices have have unpublished APIs which do reveal it, these devices are relatively common in South Korea and Hong Kong where we have a good picture of the bandwidths.

We need you help
We generally don’t ask for any help beyond downloading the app, but we’re stuck on this one. We want to run our model on more countries – the US in particular. But we don’t know what bandwidths are being used in each city.

The good news is, many phones are able to see what bandwidth is available. You just need to enter the service menu or field test mode, on Samsung Galaxy devices (e.g. Galaxy S4) just open the dialler and type:

*#0011#

This should open up a page of stats on your device:

GS4_1

See below for what to do if *#0011# does nothing

Here you can read the LTE stats easily. The Band is 7 (around 2600 MHz), and the LTE Bandwidth for download (LTE DL BW) is 15 MHz. Actually the Earfcn_dl gives a more precise reading of the band, 2825, so if this available use this.

If that works fill out this form and your information will be automatically mapped:

All the information is public, and responses are mapped immediately below – you will probably need to refresh this page before your data becomes visible. If it doesn’t appear after that there may be a problem geocoding please email me James (@ opensignal.com) with your observation and we’ll get it up.

Map of LTE bandwidth. Click on a dot to see the observation. Get the raw data here.

Apart from improving our model, this map will give a great indication of how operators are investing in infrastructure. For example T-Mobile stated in Q4 2013 that it would have brought 20+20 LTE (i.e. 20 MHz downlink and 20 MHz uplink) to 90% of the top 25 US markets by the end of 2014 – that’s 24 cities. Readings from T-Mobile users shed light on how that roll out is doing.

Sprint’s Spark network – making use of band 26 (800MHz) is also one to watch.

If *#0011# doesn’t work
*#0011# won’t work on all devices. You can try:

*#*#4636#*#*
*#32489#
or
*#*#7262626#*#*
However, we’ve tried these on a number of phones, and even when they do return signal and tower information we have not found them to return the bandwidth.

If you find other codes that do work, get in touch.

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