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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default US Version of Samsung Note: Internet in Europe - 04-04-2012, 18:59

I was thinking of getting a Samsung Note with AT&T and having it unlocked for international travel.

The International version of the phone has GSM 850/900/1900/2100. I just noticed that the US version is only 850/1900/2100. Will I get high speed internet in Europe with just 2100 or do I also need 900?

Thanks!
   
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inquisitor (Offline)
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Default 04-04-2012, 23:17

Hi Lizzie,

First of all let me explain that today there are three different network generations in use:
  • GSM which is considered being a second generation (that's why it's sometimes called "2G") technology and supports an older data transmission mode called GPRS delivering only 57.6 KBit/s and a newer data transmission mode called EDGE giving up to 236 KBit/s.
  • UMTS which in many countries is called 3G as it's a third generation technology and originally supported only data rates of 384 KBit/s but was speeded up by a technology called HSPA and now can deliver up to 84'000 KBit/s, but most HSPA networks won't deliver more than single-digit thousands of KBit/s.
  • LTE which is the latest, fourth generation (4G) technology and supports data rates of 100'000 KBit/s and soon probably even more. Despite LTE sounds pretty amazing there are still some issues with this new technology. One of them is that the industry still couldn't agree upon a standard for voice calls, so LTE networks lack a very basic feature, namely voice calling. Therefore LTE phones sold today need to (automatically) switch back to 2G or 3G networks once a voice call comes in or is being placed, which is kind of botchy and may result in failing calls. So LTE is still pretty immature but it may still make sense using it already today where 3G networks are congested and operators can't increase capacity due to limited frequency spectrum. E.g. that's the case for AT&T or Sprint.
Please note that some operators (e.g. T-Mobile USA) market their 3G networks as "4G" because they can deliver data rates similar to those on LTE networks, despite 3G networks are not 4G from a technical point of view. If you want to make sure that a 4G network is really a fourth generation network, ask the network is actually based on UMTS/HSPA or LTE.

Now when you look for compatibility between phones and networks you have to check the supported frequencies for each of these three network generations. Usually all modern phones support GSM on American GSM frequencies (850 and 1900 MHz) as well as the GSM frequencies used in the rest of the world (900 and 1800 MHz). So in regards of 2G/GSM networks modern phones have global compatibility.
But when it comes to 3G/UMTS you need to check frequencies separately. So a phone that supports 2G/GSM on let's say 900 MHz does not necessarily support 3G/UMTS on 900 MHz.
The same applies for LTE: If a phone supports 3G on a certain frequency is does not necessarily also support LTE on the same frequency.
So you have to look very carefully at phones' specifications and distinguish between these three network standards.

The Galaxy Note with the designation "GT-N7000" and probably the one you call "international version" does support UMTS 850/900/1900/2100 but it does not support LTE at all.
The AT&T version (designated "SGH-i717") in contrast already supports LTE on "Band 4" (1700/2100 MHz) and "Band 17" (700 MHz) (both used in the Americas only) but in turn lacks UMTS support for 900 MHz.

Now the question is what's more important for to you: LTE for faster Internet at home in the Staates or UMTS 900 which is only used outside the Americas.
In Europe 3G/UMTS networks have been rolled out primarily on 2100 MHz over the last decade so you'll usually experience perfect coverage with a device supporting only this frequency. Deployment of UMTS to the 900 MHZ band started only 3-4 years ago and only in some countries, where it is primarily used to cover rural areas (because signals on lower frequencies have a higher range and so you need less cell towers on 900 MHz than if you use 2100 MHz). In Germany (where I know you've been travelling to) we don't have UMTS 900 at all. In the UK however O2 have rededicated parts of their 900 MHz frequencies which were formerly used for GSM to UMTS (for details read WirelessMoves: UMTS 900 in London - A Tough Decision). Vodafone UK have also done so, while the other British operators can't as they don't own any 900 MHz frequencies. Btw Lebara UK, which you recently were interested in, don't run their own network but use Vodafone's.

So whether you need UMTS 900 support or not very much depends on which country you are travelling to, which network you intend to use and also if you are staying in rural or urban areas. The latter usually historically have very good UMTS 2100 coverage while UMTS 900 just adds capacity to the existing UMTS 2100 networks there and closes some minor coverage gaps. In the countryside however lacking UMTS 900 support may result in your phone falling back to slow 2G networks since covering rural areas with a dense grid of UMTS 2100 cell towers often doesn't pay off due to the low number of potential customers. Such regions often get first-time 3G coverage only through UMTS 900.

After all this complicated technical explanations I would recommend AT&T's version with LTE-support since the benefits from being able to access AT&T's LTE network in the Staates should outweigh the rare occassions where UMTS 900 would provide better coverage or higher bandwidth while travelling in Europe.

I hope this answers your question.


terminals: Samsung: Galaxy S5 DuoS (G900FD); BLU: Win HD LTE; Nokia: 1200; Asus: Fonepad 7 ME372CG; Huawei data: E3372, Vodafone R201, K3765, E1762;
postpaid: O2 on Business XL; prepaid: DE: Aldi Talk, Lidl; UK: 3; BG: MTel, vivacom; RU: MTS; RS: MTS; UAE: du Tourist SIM; INT'L: toggle mobile
VoIP: sipgate.de (German DID); sipgate.co.uk (British DID); ukddi.com (British DID); sipcall.ch (Swiss DID); megafon.bg (Bulgarian DID); InterVoip.com

Last edited by inquisitor; 04-04-2012 at 23:49..
   
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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default 08-04-2012, 14:24

Thank you so much. It is all clear now.
   
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wethead4 (Offline)
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Default 26-09-2012, 05:09

question, i have the i717 galaxy note, i flashed the tmobile blaze radio so I can get 3g on tmobile. I looked at the original blaze phone specs, and it doesnt seem to have the 2100 band. Do i need to revert back to the original att i717 galaxy note radio to pick up the 2100 band again? I will be traveling to europe and will like access to there 3g network. THanks
   
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inquisitor (Offline)
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Default 26-09-2012, 08:25

I answered to that one on XDA Devs, where this very specific question is more likely to be answered conclusively.


terminals: Samsung: Galaxy S5 DuoS (G900FD); BLU: Win HD LTE; Nokia: 1200; Asus: Fonepad 7 ME372CG; Huawei data: E3372, Vodafone R201, K3765, E1762;
postpaid: O2 on Business XL; prepaid: DE: Aldi Talk, Lidl; UK: 3; BG: MTel, vivacom; RU: MTS; RS: MTS; UAE: du Tourist SIM; INT'L: toggle mobile
VoIP: sipgate.de (German DID); sipgate.co.uk (British DID); ukddi.com (British DID); sipcall.ch (Swiss DID); megafon.bg (Bulgarian DID); InterVoip.com
   
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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default Follow=Up Question for Inquisitor - 25-05-2013, 01:20

Inquisitor, I just stumbled on this old post. It is almost a year later and I have happily been using my unlocked Samsung Galaxy Note SGH-1717. That said, I am about to head to London for two weeks and was planning to use Lebara, again, or the O2 International Sim. Am I going to have problems because this phone doesn't support 900 or will 2100 suffice? Thanks, Lizzie

Quote:
Originally Posted by inquisitor View Post
Hi Lizzie,

First of all let me explain that today there are three different network generations in use:
  • GSM which is considered being a second generation (that's why it's sometimes called "2G") technology and supports an older data transmission mode called GPRS delivering only 57.6 KBit/s and a newer data transmission mode called EDGE giving up to 236 KBit/s.
  • UMTS which in many countries is called 3G as it's a third generation technology and originally supported only data rates of 384 KBit/s but was speeded up by a technology called HSPA and now can deliver up to 84'000 KBit/s, but most HSPA networks won't deliver more than single-digit thousands of KBit/s.
  • LTE which is the latest, fourth generation (4G) technology and supports data rates of 100'000 KBit/s and soon probably even more. Despite LTE sounds pretty amazing there are still some issues with this new technology. One of them is that the industry still couldn't agree upon a standard for voice calls, so LTE networks lack a very basic feature, namely voice calling. Therefore LTE phones sold today need to (automatically) switch back to 2G or 3G networks once a voice call comes in or is being placed, which is kind of botchy and may result in failing calls. So LTE is still pretty immature but it may still make sense using it already today where 3G networks are congested and operators can't increase capacity due to limited frequency spectrum. E.g. that's the case for AT&T or Sprint.
Please note that some operators (e.g. T-Mobile USA) market their 3G networks as "4G" because they can deliver data rates similar to those on LTE networks, despite 3G networks are not 4G from a technical point of view. If you want to make sure that a 4G network is really a fourth generation network, ask the network is actually based on UMTS/HSPA or LTE.

Now when you look for compatibility between phones and networks you have to check the supported frequencies for each of these three network generations. Usually all modern phones support GSM on American GSM frequencies (850 and 1900 MHz) as well as the GSM frequencies used in the rest of the world (900 and 1800 MHz). So in regards of 2G/GSM networks modern phones have global compatibility.
But when it comes to 3G/UMTS you need to check frequencies separately. So a phone that supports 2G/GSM on let's say 900 MHz does not necessarily support 3G/UMTS on 900 MHz.
The same applies for LTE: If a phone supports 3G on a certain frequency is does not necessarily also support LTE on the same frequency.
So you have to look very carefully at phones' specifications and distinguish between these three network standards.

The Galaxy Note with the designation "GT-N7000" and probably the one you call "international version" does support UMTS 850/900/1900/2100 but it does not support LTE at all.
The AT&T version (designated "SGH-i717") in contrast already supports LTE on "Band 4" (1700/2100 MHz) and "Band 17" (700 MHz) (both used in the Americas only) but in turn lacks UMTS support for 900 MHz.

Now the question is what's more important for to you: LTE for faster Internet at home in the Staates or UMTS 900 which is only used outside the Americas.
In Europe 3G/UMTS networks have been rolled out primarily on 2100 MHz over the last decade so you'll usually experience perfect coverage with a device supporting only this frequency. Deployment of UMTS to the 900 MHZ band started only 3-4 years ago and only in some countries, where it is primarily used to cover rural areas (because signals on lower frequencies have a higher range and so you need less cell towers on 900 MHz than if you use 2100 MHz). In Germany (where I know you've been travelling to) we don't have UMTS 900 at all. In the UK however O2 have rededicated parts of their 900 MHz frequencies which were formerly used for GSM to UMTS (for details read WirelessMoves: UMTS 900 in London - A Tough Decision). Vodafone UK have also done so, while the other British operators can't as they don't own any 900 MHz frequencies. Btw Lebara UK, which you recently were interested in, don't run their own network but use Vodafone's.

So whether you need UMTS 900 support or not very much depends on which country you are travelling to, which network you intend to use and also if you are staying in rural or urban areas. The latter usually historically have very good UMTS 2100 coverage while UMTS 900 just adds capacity to the existing UMTS 2100 networks there and closes some minor coverage gaps. In the countryside however lacking UMTS 900 support may result in your phone falling back to slow 2G networks since covering rural areas with a dense grid of UMTS 2100 cell towers often doesn't pay off due to the low number of potential customers. Such regions often get first-time 3G coverage only through UMTS 900.

After all this complicated technical explanations I would recommend AT&T's version with LTE-support since the benefits from being able to access AT&T's LTE network in the Staates should outweigh the rare occassions where UMTS 900 would provide better coverage or higher bandwidth while travelling in Europe.

I hope this answers your question.
   
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inquisitor (Offline)
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Default 25-05-2013, 02:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by lizzie1955 View Post
Inquisitor, I just stumbled on this old post. It is almost a year later and I have happily been using my unlocked Samsung Galaxy Note SGH-1717. That said, I am about to head to London for two weeks and was planning to use Lebara, again, or the O2 International Sim. Am I going to have problems because this phone doesn't support 900 or will 2100 suffice? Thanks, Lizzie
As long as you stay in urban regions you should see pretty good 3G coverage on the 2100 MHz band, which was the only frequency used for 3G for years (so-called "UMTS2100") and therefore has been spread widely. Of course with a UMTS900-capable phone you would still experience a fast 3G connection in some places where the UMTS2100 signal has already faded (especially indoors). But besides UMTS900 and UMTS2100 your phone will be able to use the old GSM900 and GSM1800 networks (both slow 2G technologies) from Vodafone (that's the network used by Lebara) and EE (the new company emerged from the merger of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK), so you will hardly lose coverage. Nevertheless 2G coverage is slowly deteriorating as Vodafone and EE have been switching off GSM900 in order to use the released frequencies for UMTS900 and EE have also been switching off GSM1800 in order to deploy LTE1800.


terminals: Samsung: Galaxy S5 DuoS (G900FD); BLU: Win HD LTE; Nokia: 1200; Asus: Fonepad 7 ME372CG; Huawei data: E3372, Vodafone R201, K3765, E1762;
postpaid: O2 on Business XL; prepaid: DE: Aldi Talk, Lidl; UK: 3; BG: MTel, vivacom; RU: MTS; RS: MTS; UAE: du Tourist SIM; INT'L: toggle mobile
VoIP: sipgate.de (German DID); sipgate.co.uk (British DID); ukddi.com (British DID); sipcall.ch (Swiss DID); megafon.bg (Bulgarian DID); InterVoip.com
   
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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default 25-05-2013, 02:31

Thanks Inquisitor. How are you? It's been ages. I'm going to be in London 100% of the time so I suspect I'll be okay. My only other option will be to use Three.com.uk. They have a good unlimited data plan but I know nothing about their service.

Last edited by lizzie1955; 25-05-2013 at 02:33.. Reason: add copy
   
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UKSTEVE (Offline)
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Default 28-05-2013, 17:12

Three are pretty good for mobile data Lizzie - they only have a 3G (2100) network, however, although it has the best coverage of the 3G network.

You can get a 1month/1GB SIM for about 8.00 on eBay or a 3month/2GB SIM for about 14.00 on eBay or Amazon.

Hope this info helps / Steve


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lizzie1955 (Offline)
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Default 28-05-2013, 18:51

Thanks Steve. I have the US version of the Samsung Note that doesn't support 900 anyway. I'll be limited to 2100 no matter who I use. I'm going to be in Central London so will hopefully be okay.
   
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