Verizon 'Looking Forward' After Fixing Second LTE Glitch
For the second time since launching its high-speed, long-term evolution data network Verizon Wireless has faced a technical glitch that caused slower speeds for some users, just days after the network's first anniversary.
And just as in the aftermath of the brief outage in April, the carrier -- which is consistently top-rated in customer satisfaction -- now declines to say much about the cause and extent of the problem.
"Verizon Wireless 4G LTE service returned to normal Wednesday evening after the company's network operations team resolved a technical issue," Verizon spokesman Howard Waterman said in an e-mail. "Some 4G customers had reported intermittent or unavailable 4G service, or devices operating on 3G, for periods of time starting late Tuesday. Throughout this time, all customers were able to make voice calls, send and receive text messages, and 3G data devices operated normally."
He declined to comment on the nature of the technical issue or whether it was restricted to one region or across the network's growing footprint. "The network is back to normal," Waterman said. "Our focus is on serving our customers, and looking forward."
The April incident happened days after Verizon expanded the network to six new markets, and the latest glitch comes as the carrier is getting ready for another major expansion. As of Dec. 15, the LTE footprint will include areas of Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia and Wisconsin, to a total of 190 markets, up from 39 at launch.
But growing capacity is not necessarily the culprit, says wireless analyst Kirk Parsons of J.D. Power and Associates.
"There could be many reasons: software upgrades, weather-related, demand spikes, etcetera," Parsons said.
While glitches come with the territory for a new technology, Parsons said it was "hard to say" whether interruptions may become a regular occurrence for LTE, as it is for cable TV providers and for utility companies after severe weather events.
"None can dispute the fact that as more and more smartphone and tablet devices start showing up on the 3G/4G network, it will become more challenging for the carriers to keep up with demand," Parsons said.
Is Satisfaction Guaranteed?
Consumer Reports' latest survey of wireless customers found Verizon leading the top four carriers in satisfaction with standard, billed service but trailing smaller carriers such as Consumer Cellular, U.S. Cellular and Credo, with a 73 percent approval rating. Respondents gave Verizon the second-highest rating on the magazine's scale for data service.
Parsons said that high satisfaction level was unlikely to change because of the data slowdown.
"It depends on how severe the network problems are and how long they last," the analyst said. "This latest occurrence does not seem to be a major issue given that service never went down."
Verizon now offers eight smartphones compatible with the LTE network as well as two tablets, two laptops, two USB modems and two mobile hotspot devices.
Rival AT&T launched its LTE network on Nov. 6.