Print 14 comment(s) - last by Samus.. on Nov 14 at 4:15 PM

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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RE: So how about a discount...?
By drycrust3 on 11/14/2013 9:57:03 AM , Rating: 2
This company is an overpriced joke. You could pay half as much for Sprint and get LTE in most places, and when you don't have Sprint service you'd simply roam on Verizon (their roaming partner) for free.

US Cellular was successful mostly because it was a "cheap" way to get Verizon coverage.

So ... that explains why Verizon's service is so poor: Verizon's customers aren't just paying for their own service, they are also paying for coverage for customers of other phone companies as well. As I've said before, you've only got your paying customers to pay for everything. In these cases Verizon should be charging (admittedly at some sort of wholesale rate) other phone companies when their customers use Verizon's network because Verizon should at least be breaking even when customers of other networks use their network, although making a profit is better. Yes, I realise that "roaming charges" is a political hot potato, but Verizon's responsibility is primarily towards its own customers.
As I see it, in places where their service is an issue, Verizon would be quite within their rights to offer restricted services to roaming customers, or to feed adverts to them, as a means to at least minimise the losses they incur. It isn't in Verizon's interest for their own customers to suffer degraded service simply because other networks don't provide adequate coverage in those places.

RE: So how about a discount...?
By Rukkian on 11/14/2013 12:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, other companies users do get degraded service. Here in Iowa, most people that have lived here their whole lives (most people) have uscellular, cause it used to be cheaper. When they get outside of the USCellular area, and start roaming, the get much worse coverage (if at all) do not get LTE at all, and have lower priority for calls/text. My coworker and his son took a trip, both have the same (basically) phone, one from verizon, one from US Cellular. The US Cellular one would routinely have no coverage (not even phone) and texts would take 1-2 hours to send/receive, while the Verizon phone had LTE coverge most of the time, and always had voice/text capability.

While they say that companies like sprint and usc roam on Verizon, it is not as smooth as they portray.

RE: So how about a discount...?
By Solandri on 11/14/2013 3:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
So ... that explains why Verizon's service is so poor: Verizon's customers aren't just paying for their own service, they are also paying for coverage for customers of other phone companies as well.

Once upon a time that was true, but not anymore. My Sprint plan has free roaming, and I went so far as to buy an app which could force my phone into roam-only mode, so I'm very familiar with this.

Back when 3G service first rolled out, Sprint's roaming agreement with Verizon allowed me to get 3G via Verizon's network. Was really handy in some spots where Verizon had 3G but Sprint didn't. Some time before 2010 this changed, and now I can only get 1xRTT (2G) speeds when roaming on Verizon (yes the app tells me which carrier I'm roaming on). I'm lucky to get 10 kB/s data when roaming on Verizon now, so the roaming is definitely not impacting their 3G and 4G speeds.

RE: So how about a discount...?
By Samus on 11/14/2013 4:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
I noticed the same thing around late 2009. US Cellular roaming speed fell to the floor. I wonder if some sort of FCC regulation expired or changed with roaming agreements among carriers.

Obviously there isn't going to be roaming LTE anytime soon, because the purpose of roaming is to guarantee voice connection. Most pre-paid carriers don't even have roaming data contracts, just voice/text. But for the most part that isn't necessary. Wifi is readily available just about everywhere and virtually all carriers have coverage in all but the smallest towns across the country.

Roaming is for when your on the backroads and wreck yourself and need to call for an emergency. Last time I checked, nobody SMS's or emails 911.

I really don't understand how my factual post was rated down. If you hate roaming agreements, take it out on the FCC to deregulate the industry so the small carriers fall apart and you have your choice between Verizon and AT&T for $200/month.

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