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Numerous users are congesting Verizon's overworked network and bumping some down to turtle-slow 3G

Even as the nation's largest cellular carrier Verizon Wireless (a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ) locks horns with second-place AT&T Inc. (T) over the question of LTE coverage and speed, Verizon's Chief Financial Officer has made a surprisingly candid acknowledgement.
 
In a CNET interview CFO Fran Shammo states:

There are certain pockets where we're absolutely going to experience that down tick from the LTE network down to 3G because of capacity constraints.  By the end of this year you are going to see all those issues dissipate.  And then going into next year we will be ahead of the curve again.

Verizon is confident in the latter statement as it's rushing to deploy more antennas and eliminate uncovered spots in its top troubled urban deployments, deployments that include New York, San Francisco, and Chicago.
Verizon LTE adoption
Verizon has seen great adoption of its LTE smartphone offerings, but unfortunately that strong success has pushed its network to the breaking point in some places. [Image Source: iDownload]

In Q3 2013, Verizon reported that 38 percent of its subscribers were now using an LTE-equipped smartphone, up from 33 percent in Q2 2013 and 17 percent in Q3 2012.  These users accounted for 64 percent of Verizon's total traffic.  The carrier moved 6 million LTE equipped smartphones in the quarter.
 
While Verizon has the unquestionable lead in network coverage, AT&T's LTE network footprint is only marginally behind.  The carriers trade blows, as illustrated by recent commercials:




Recent testing by Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal illustrated that in some regions Verizon is the fastest option, but in one of Verizon's weakest points -- New York City (NYC) -- AT&T showed phenomenal performance.  
 
AT&T deserves some special kudos there -- in the 3G era its NYC network was so bad, that an Apple, Inc. (AAPL) employee back in 2009 made headlines by calling 30 percent dropped call rates "normal".  Since that embarrassment, AT&T has aggressively improved its infrastructure in that top market.
 
Past tests have noted that when AT&T is forced to bump users off of LTE, the transition is gentler as it pushes them down on to its HSPA+ network, which is still relatively fast.  By contrast Verizon pushes users down onto a much slower CDMA network, sending content streaming to a grinding halt. 

Sources: CNET, WSJ





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