This is a problem that is quite undocumented, even with Sprint’s Customer Support documents and staff (several Sprint agents that I talked to, some of which had 10 years experience, thanked me for bringing this to their attention and teaching them something new). It applies to people who have a Samsung Galaxy S3, Galaxy S4 or another LTE enabled phone. With the help of some forum posts that I found after extensive research and some hard pushing of Sprint’s support staff, I was finally able to get to the bottom of it. This post is a solution for people with a LTE enabled phone on which LTE has never worked; you will be able to tell because you will never see the 4G icon despite being in 4G LTE coverage.

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I think that this mainly applies to people who have had their phone or its PBA replaced although it is possible that it will work for anyone who has a Sprint phone, that LTE has never worked on, despite being in LTE coverage. It is possible that it could apply to AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS and other providers but because some of those providers have SIM cards in their phones as opposed to ESN, like Sprint and Verizon, it may not be an issue with those providers. With Sprint, the Samsung Galaxy S3 does not have a removable SIM card but there is an equivalent card embedded in the phone. This card carries a number that is referred to in your phone’s settings as the ICCID although Sprint’s staff has referred to it as the UICC.

If your 4G LTE does not work on a Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4, after having your phone replaced, then this is the Solution for You!

The root of the problem that causes you to get No 4G LTE Signal on Samsung Galaxy S3, is that this ICCID is not correctly updated in Sprint’s system. Theoretically and in accordance with what one would assume/Sprint will tell you, the activation process and a PRL or Profile Update, will communicate this number to Sprint and update it in their servers. However, this is obviously not happening and is a bug that Sprint should better document or have their engineers fix, through a software update. At the least, they should document it well so that Sprint Customer Support is aware of it.

As part of my quest to get to the bottom of this, I have reached out to several different Sprint Phone Support agents, Online Chat, Sprint Community Message Boards and taken my phone to Sprint and Samsung stores. If I hadn’t researched it myself, the Sprint Store Tech would have had me factory reset my phone and pay $75 to send it in for replacement which some other people have had done and still had their LTE not working!! Who knows at what point the ICCID (UICC) of the phone gets updated in Sprint’s system!!

In part of my journey, I performed all of the standard troubleshooting steps along with some pretty advanced ones. I reset my network via the ##72786# dialpad code, which re-provisions your phone with Sprint’s servers and is basically like a Handsfree Activation that is done when the phone first gets activated. I also switched between the Network Modes of CDMA only and LTE / CDMA, within the phones Mobile Network settings and updated my firmware to the new Android 4.3 MK3 update for the Samsung Galaxy S3 l. Additionally, Sprint phone support pushed Profile and PRL Updates several times. None of these things had any effect and now that I understand what is wrong, I see why.

Sprint’s support agents will tell you that the ICCID of the Samsung Galaxy S3’s SIM card is embedded in the phone and automatically gets updated in the system, which is why they cannot view or change it but if you push hard enough, you can probably get to someone who can at least view it. The rep I spoke to yesterday could see my MSL and other IDs but was not able to see my ICCID but when I called today and obliged the rep in going through some advanced troubleshooting, she eventually could pull up my ICCID after putting me on hold for a bit (she probably talked to her manager or the other agents to see if anyone knew how). Although I was able to get to someone who could see it to confirm that the ICCID in my phone was different than the ICCID that they had in their system, they were not able to update it and had to put in a ticket to have Tier Two Support and/or Sprint Engineers contact me. Even though it was not immediately fixed, this was a huge AH-HA moment for me because I was able to find out that my suspicions were correct and there was in fact a discrepancy, causing my LTE not to work!

Interestingly enough, even though my ICCID (UICC) was not correctly updated in Sprint’s system, everything on my phone worked fine–Calls, Texts (MMS & SMS), Data (3G), Voicemail, etc. The only thing that didn’t work was my LTE (4G). My only problem was 4G LTE not working on Sprint Samsung Galaxy S3.

The Problem: LTE does not work on a Sprint Samsung Galaxy S3 or S4

Instead of going through every little detail of my journey to getting working 4G LTE on my Samsung Galaxy SIII on Sprint (and it was a JOURNEY), I will sum it up and provide people whose LTE doesn’t work, on a Sprint smartphone, a quick tutorial on how to get your 4G LTE back working.

In theory, if you could get to a Sprint rep who had the ability to update the record with your ICCID in Sprint’s system, to match your phone’s ICCID, all would be good with the world and your LTE would be working. However, I called more than 10 times, went to the Sprint and Samsung stores, spoke to online chat, email support and the Sprint community forums and no one could update the ICCID in Sprint’s system or put me in touch with someone who could. I even got to Level 2 Support (which is not easy to do) and had multiple Click-it Tickets (Sprint’s internal ticketing system) put in that were SUPPOSED to be answered by engineers who had the ability to update this record. In one case, I got a call back from a ‘Service Engineer’ who was high up in the support chain. I spent over an hour on the phone with her while she tried to fix it and got other ‘Device Engineers’ and IT/Networking agents involved to try to fix it. None were able to make my 4G LTE work.

I invested well over 10 hours and took multiple trips to the Sprint stores, to remedy this situation and make my LTE work on my Samsung Galaxy S3. It turned out the answer was going to the Samsung store, who originally repaired my phone by replacing the motherboard after it would not turn on. Even though Samsung didn’t own the problem and it was totally Sprint’s fault, being a Sprint Network problem, they were the ones who took the responsibility to fix it.

When Samsung originally fixed my phone, they replaced the motherboard of the phone. New motherboard meant new antenna and therefore new ICCID for my LTE service. When I went to activate my phone after the repair, it should have updated Sprint’s records with the ICCID and information of my new phone. This is where the problem started. I don’t know if the ball was dropped during activation or if a PRL or Profile Update should have relayed this new information but for whatever reason Sprint’s system was not updated with the correct details pertaining to this new, repaired phone.

SOLUTION to Samsung Galaxy S3 Sprint LTE Not Working

The ultimate solution to this problem that should have never existed and at least, should have been resolved by a call to Sprint Support, for me, was to take my phone into the Samsung store who has nice enough to replace it with a brand new one free of charge! And after getting the new phone, we activated it on Sprint and boom, for the first time ever I saw the beautiful 4G icon in my notification area. It has been working ever since. The speeds and coverage (in Dallas, TX) are phenomenal!

I know that some people will not be as lucky as me in having a Samsung Repair Center close by to them. In my case, a company called RSI or Repair Services Inc, operates two Certified Samsung Repair Centers in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex–one in a suburb of Fort Worth and one in North Dallas. Not only did RSI (Samsung) repair my phone when it broke one month out of warranty but they also replaced it with a brand new one a few months later when I realized that my LTE had never worked on my Galaxy S3.

A couple other solutions that may work for people whose LTE is Not Working on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone is to go ahead and pay the $75 and have the phone replaced through Sprint. New phone means new ICCID and when it gets activated, hopefully it will update correctly in Sprint’s system. Another solution would be to cancel Sprint and go with another provider who has their technical ducks in a row. Trust me, I have had thoughts about doing this.

The Ultimate Solution: Get your phone replaced by Samsung or Sprint

Theoretically, the solution should be for Sprint to just update their system with the actual ICCID of your Galaxy’s internal SIM card but this is obviously not possible as I have tried as hard as any human could. And Sprint reps from every level of Customer Support have tried as well. I was told that the ID’s of the Samsung phones are pre-sent to Sprint and put in their system at the time the batch of phones ship from Samsung to Sprint so this change is not easily done. Maybe that’s why getting a phone repaired with a fresh new motherboard (and new internal SIM and accompanying IDs) throws a monkey wrench in the system.

Review of Samsung Customer Service
This post can also serve as a review for Samsung’s Customer Service procedures. I am very pleased with Samsung. They took responsibility of my problem and went out of their way to remedy it. They stand behind their products and have a customer service mentality that is hard to find in today’s world. Not only does Samsung produce the greatest smart phones on the best platform (Android) but they stand behind their product!