As I'm sure many of you know, Verizon's 4G LTE network has had a bit of a rough December, suffering from three different outages that knocked out the carrier's speedy data coverage for short periods of time. What you may not know, though, is exactly what caused the outages. Today Verizon VP of network engineering Mike Haberman spoke with GigaOM to explain what happened. Haberman said that the outages arose from problems with the IP Multimedia System (IMS) of Verizon's LTE network: the December 7th issue was caused by a backup communications database failure, the December 21st outage stemmed from an IMS element not responding correctly, and this week's service interruption was caused by two IMS elements not communicating like they should've. Each time a bug was fixed, a new one sprung up.
So what's Verizon doing to try and prevent future issues? Although it can't promise that there will never be another outage, Haberman said that Verizon's been geographically dividing its LTE network up so that if a failure does occur, it can be isolated to a certain portion of the country rather than spreading nationwide. The carrier is also upgrading all of its software and trying to minimize the signal chatter on its IMS infrastructure. In a press release issued this evening, Verizon said that "will not rest" until the performance of its 4G network matches the high expectations of its customers.
Many owners of Verizon's LTE products have understandably been frustrated with the three 4G service interruptions that've occurred this month, and the fact that the latest one happened right after Christmas definitely didn't help the situation. That said, it's good to see the folks at Big Red finally offering up an explanation for the outages. Here's to hoping that we don't run into any more for a while, because when you combine the batch of disruptions we've seen this month with the $2 convenience fee that was announced today, Verizon may be on thin ice with some of its customers. You can find Verizon's full statement on the LTE outages down below.
Statement From Verizon Wireless on 4GLTE Network
In light of recent events, Verizon Wireless shared the following statement about its 4GLTE Network:
The Verizon Wireless 4GLTE Network is BY FAR the largest and the most advanced 4GLTE wireless network in the world. It is available in 190 US markets and covers more than 200 million people, providing the fastest 4G Network in the US.
Being a pioneer comes with growing pains. The recent issues that affected our customers’ 4GLTE service were unforeseen despite careful, diligent planning, deployment and ongoing upgrade programs.
Problems customers experienced affected connectivity to the 4GLTE Network and data service. Several times, we have proactively “moved” 4GLTE customers onto our 3G Network to ensure all would have a data connection. For brief periods, such as on Wednesday (12/28), 4GLTE customers could not connect to the 3G Network as quickly as we would have liked.
Nonetheless, we estimate that 4GLTE connectivity has been available approximately 99 percent of the time this year.
Why have these issues occurred with our 4GLTE Network? Each incident has been different from a technical standpoint. Our engineers have successfully diagnosed those past triggering events, and they have not re-occurred. We also work diligently to rectify technical problems in the Network before they affect any customers.
Our 3G and 1X Networks continue to reliably process calls, texts and data for customers with 3G devices and, when necessary, 4GLTE devices. It continues to perform at the high level that established it as the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G Network.
We are taking a number of steps, working closely with our network suppliers, to ensure the integrity of our 4GLTE Network. We continue to fortify and improve its performance, and our goal is that our 4GLTE Network meets the same high standards that our 3G Network has set for performance and reliability.
Among the numerous measures we have taken or will take are: geographic segmentation, which enables us to isolate, contain and rectify network performance issues, and maintain service to the majority of customers when an issue does develop; and software fixes that we have developed, tested and applied regularly – and will continue to do so. Both will improve performance and reliability.
And finally, we are learning from these issues and applying the same gold standard to our 4GLTE Network that make our 3G Network the nation’s largest and most reliable.
Verizon Wireless is a leader and pioneer in this cutting edge technology that provides very fast wireless data speeds, enabling customers to enjoy the best experience in video and other wireless data usage. Clear unbuffered streaming video, super fast file downloads and wide availability are among the advantages we offer to customers. The capabilities of 4GLTE have exceeded many expectations.
We will not rest until our 4GLTE network performs at the very highest levels that our customers have come to expect from us.