What’s Up With Verizon’s LTE?

December 29th, 2011 by · 9 Comments

To say that the new LTE network lit up by Verizon (NYSE:VZ, news, filings) this year is having a few growing pains is now something of a Christmas understatement.  According to reports, service is again down for the count with customers unable to connect to its 3G and 4G network in major cities.

That's three times this month now, first being back on December 6 and the last incident taking place ust a week ago.  The trouble streak comes at a time when Verizon ought to be riding high, selling the iPhone now with Sprint still playing catchup and AT&T's T-Mobile dreams now shattered. A PR black eye was not what the company really wanted just now, but at least nobody's positioned well to take advantage.

It's not yet clear just what is tripping Verizon's LTE network up. Surely it's not traffic levels already?  The repeated instances suggest the company itself either doesn't know the cause or is waiting on a software fix and simply rebooting and praying it won't crash again for a while.  Unless of course it's not the same problem each time...  Anybody heard anything?

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Categories: Wireless

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9 Comments So Far


  • anonymousse says:

    Rob, there was a neat technical article on Android Police about VZ’s network issues a few days ago:

    http://www.androidpolice.com/2011/12/19/this-is-why-your-verizon-galaxy-nexus-or-other-4g-lte-vzw-phone-is-losing-data-signal/

  • Anonymous says:

    VZ is lighting fiber deployed to tower in multiple states right now. Big push for several sites by year-end. Other carriers are following (S & US Cell), and T put out a big multi-year contract in our territory that will begin 2012. Could be just too much all at once with too few personnel to cover everything.

  • Will says:

    http://gigaom.com/broadband/verizon-explains-its-string-of-lte-outages/

    http://broabandtrafficmanagement.blogspot.com/2011/12/rumors-which-ims-component-caused.html

    There, now its public from other peoples posts.

    It’s an IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) failure and VZ’s integration of eHRPD (a protocol that links their CDMA2000 network with their LTE GSM network, basically a HRPD CDMA2000 legacy hack in order to make it work with a 3GPP GSM network).

    Verizon’s has 2 core networks, a LTE 3GPP network that’s some of the newest in the world, backward compatible with GSM for international roaming I believe soon (but no legacy GSM/UMTS towers connected to it) and a ultra-reliable legacy 1X and HRPD network that they are both moving to IP-RAN and direct Carrier Ethernet (VoIP erlangs direct from the BTS to their switch if what I’m reading is correct, note: i have no inside info, just deep technical (public) knowledge).

    The problem is *SO DEEP* that unless you understand GSM/UMTS/LTE and CDMA2000 network architecture its kind of hard to explain to a lay-person.

    Verizon is also first in the world to combine a CDMA2000 and do the migration to the next-generation GSM pure-data network, aka LTE using 100% IP, software-defined radio (SDR) and other things that dramatically increase performance and decrease cost.

    Folks, this ain’t what Bell/Telus in Canada or IUSACELL in Mexico did/are doing (IUSACELL) in that they did a complete UMTS/HSPA+ (GSM 3G ONLY!) overlay of their CDMA2000 network…

    Being first to GSM *NEWEST* technology ain’t easy. 😉

    • Rob Powell says:

      Thanks for that Will, interesting that it’s in the nitty gritty of IMS that things are going wrong. I’m not going to give VZ a really hard time on it, though when you’re marketing yourself as the most reliable network you’ve set the bar high for yourself already!

    • Anonymous says:

      Something else to note is the Galaxy Nexus which was released right around these outages relies on their IMS infrastructure even more than previous phones. It’s moving more and more away from relying on the 1x side for services and more onto the IMS side. See SMS over IMS on the Gnexus 🙂

      From what I’ve looked at, it’s probably HLR failures that’d cause nation wide outages like they saw…

  • Will says:

    In Short:

    The new LTE (GSM) network is fine.
    The old HRPD (CDMA2000) network is fine.

    The eHRPD network that “glues” CDMA to GSM in ultra-layman’s terms is having problems in that they’re the first operator in the world (aka beta software in production but VZW needs it sooner rather than later!) to run a IP-RAN End to End IP from Cell Site/BTS/Base Station to Switch!) on 100% IP Signaling (IP IMS-IP Multimedia Subsystem) on a 100% IP network.

    Integrating their new LTE GSM network with old CDMA2000!?

    Yeah there’s bound to be problems.

    Also IP-RAN isn’t new, just ultra-new in the US due to population and coverage needs. ;P

    Running a 100% network using 100% IP Signaling/Timing (I forgot which protocol their using) and (IMS-IP Multimedia Subsystem) IS NEW ON *LTE*.

    Other operators worldwide have perfected the bugs in the IP-RAN/Signaling/Timing on CDMA2000 and GSM (2G/EDGE), 3G UMTS/HSPA+ but not 4G yet.

    VZW plays *ultra-fast BETA tester* for the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      What kind of lead-time advantage do you believe this positions them for in the US? or how far ahead of others?

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