Home Uncategorized Verizon 5G Internet Gateway Askey NCQ1338 Firmware Update

Verizon 5G Internet Gateway Askey NCQ1338 Firmware Update

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As of 9/18/22 there are no officially published release notes for NCQ1338 firmware version 222656 (System Update 5) over at Verizon Internet Gateway (ASK-NCQ1338) Software Update | Verizon
BUT someone over on reddit got their hands on them through Support. They published the changes but didn’t know what they meant. I’m going to attempt to make sense of it by Googling away at each point….

Software Update: SU5
Software Version: 222656
Commercial Availability: 7/13/22

Software Changes

  • FOTA flow enhancement. Based on FOTA flow v11.2
    • Seems straightforward enough…Firmware Over-The-Air. Based on complaints I have seen about Askeys not updating automatically, I’m going to guess VZW was having issues with some clients updating their firmware over-the-air, so they changed the code to work better. FOTA flow v11.2 may be internal versioning for the code.
  • NR SA disable
    • After reading up on Cisco’s 5G documentation, I think I know what’s going on. First understand that Standalone(SA) is one of the two solutions for 5G communicators, consisting of an all new 5G Packet Core. The SA architecture is made up of 5G New Radio (5G NR) and 5G Core Network (5GC).
      The other solution is of course NSA(Non Standalone), where you see the “existing LTE radio access and core network (EPC) is leveraged to anchor the 5G NR using the Dual Connectivity feature. This solution enables operators to provide 5G services with shorter time and lesser cost.” Put another way by Singapore’s StarHub, “The non-standalone mode of deploying 5G focuses on enhancing existing mobile broadband to provide higher data-bandwidth and reliable connectivity on a 2.1Ghz spectrum. Standalone 5G works on an independent network designed and deployed solely to enable 5G on a 3.5Ghz spectrum. This means that you’ll not only enjoy increased mobile data capacity and bandwidth, but also ultra-responsive, ultra-low-latency services for high quality of service and the ability to connect massive number of devices.”
      Looks like NR SA disable allows the Askey routers to operate at 5G levels when they are not connected to pure 5G infrastructure.
  • Implement SVN of IMEISV. SVN =01 for SU5
    • Appears to be a software versioning task to set the last two digits of the IMEISV to 01 for this Software Update 5. Boring? Maybe not. It appears VZW ran 4 previous software updates without tacking on any number to the unique device identifier, so why now? What is so special about this update? Maybe the answer lies in the intended uses of the IMEISV. Tech-Invite.com’s documentation on 3GPP suggests that providers can utilize IMEISV to implement prohibited or tracked lists of equipment. This could allow VZW to draw a hard line in code between routers before and after update.
  • For Titan 1 Speedtest from MVA/ookla N/A issue, restart speedtest application if hang detected.
    • I suppose there was some open issue with running speed testing which they fixed. I don’t understand the reference to Titan 1. Not sure if MVA is MVA Telecom? Ookla at least we know is the company behind Speedtest.net. N/A probably stands for not available. Their solution appears to be to simply reload the app if it hangs.
  • Set NV#74136 = 0 to show endc_available and restrict_dcnr information in QMI_NAS_GET_SYS_INFO
    • There’s no way to know what NV#74136 is (except we now know it is set to 0 or OFF in boolean parlance). Before it was ON and apparently when ON, it prevented those two settings details from showing in the data returned by that QMI query, which is part of the programming interface of the Qualcomm MSM Interface, a proprietary interface used to interact with baseband processors (cellular modems). When you query the system you get a lot of info back, but we are only concerned with the two which are part of this update.
      And what are those settings?

      • endc_available, which per RCR Wireless stands for “E-UTRAN New Radio – Dual Connectivity, is a Non-Standalone (NSA) feature that makes it possible for mobile devices to access both 5G and 4G LTE networks at the same time, which allows carriers to tap into the benefits of both network technologies simultaneously.” It’s a bridge between generations of technology.
        Some programmers of the ModemManager software said of endc_available that you should set to false by default so that you can avoid wrong access technology. Sounds like this would be particularly useful for those operators who are pure 5G.
      • restrict_dcnr looks like a boolean flag for whether “use of dual-connectivity with NR is restricted” or not. According to Ericsson, “5G Dual connectivity enables Standalone 5G with high-band (mmWave) and mid-band spectrum. This provides higher uplink and downlink data rates and supports latency-sensitive applications for consumers and enterprises, including multi-player gaming and immersive media.”

In short, systems requesting the info returned by QMI_NAS_GET_SYS_INFO will now see if NSA features (with dual-connectivity) are supported, and they will see if dual-connectivity is being blocked.

 

Summary:
Just touching on the most interesting aspects of the update: The IMEISV change signals to me that this update is not like all the others. It appears most of the changes concern the router’s use of dual-connectivity. NR SA disable appears to free the router up to use it, and the QMI function will tell VZW whether it is available at all and also if it is being explicitly blocked. Presumably, on the VZW end, they have the means to change those settings using some tool.

So, what does it all mean?

This could mean that VZW is moving to expand the available area where these routers can be used to include LTE-covered areas.

Sources:
Info on restrict_dcnr came from Cisco doc here: 5G Non Standalone Solution Guide, StarOS Release 21.9 – 5G NSA for MME [Cisco ASR 5000 Series] – Cisco
Just search for “Use of dual connectivity with NR is restricted”

5G Network (starhub.com)

TS 22.016 (1Q22/10 p.) – International Mobile Equipment Identities (tech-invite.com)

What is 5G ENDC? (rcrwireless.com)

mm-broadband-modem-qmi: set endc_available as false by default (!808) · Merge requests · Mobile broadband connectivity / ModemManager · GitLab

 

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