Customers getting dropped from LTE to 3G because of 'capacity constraints'

Speaking at an investor conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo admitted that his carrier's network isn't offering a high enough quality of service in big cities. Although it reminds everyone regularly that it has the nation's largest LTE network, the admission that Verizon is coming up short in data speeds and experience is a surprising one.

"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."

Said Shammo, acknowledging the problem. In our own experience in the Seattle area, we've seen Verizon's network regularly become unusable on LTE, dropping to 3G and even 1X just to try and hold a signal — and it turns out we're not alone. Verizon has been selling LTE handsets for the longest of any carrier and well over half of its data traffic is moved over LTE, putting serious strain on the network. Shammo says that an average LTE customer uses over double the data of a 3G customer.

The fix? Verizon plans to increase its capital expenditures by $500 million this year for the network, as well as look into small cell technology and better utilization of spectrum in the trouble areas. Shammo claims that we will "see all of those issues dissipate" by the end of the year, and that Verizon will be ahead of the curve again come 2014. That's a lofty goal for a turnaround as we hit the middle of November, but those of us in large cities would certainly welcome better speeds.

Source: CNET


Reader comments

Verizon CFO admits network isn't up to speed in big cities


When you charge what they charge for service, you'd better provide reliable data services. It's inexcusable to wait until problems crop up to implement a fix.

I absolutely have had it with big red, and this is the final straw. This is why I am so glad I ditched them.

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Totally agree. Vz is robbing customers n daylight and putting them asleep at night. Nexus 4 owner T-Mobile no contract $50 month.

I saw this coming. Their 3G is so slow it never strained the fiber connecting the towers so a lot of bandwith was never needed, especially because before big red got LTE, they had way more dumbphone customers than AT&T who had a four-year head start with the iPhone, which brings very high usage customers. They had a very quick, cheap and dirty roll out of LTE which was very fast at first when there was no customers on it, but I'm sure they have over 30 million LTE smartphones on it now and the customers that signed a contract thinking they were going to get awesome speeds the whole time are feeling the pain a year later.

I am in downtown Charlotte and have had .5 MBPS down and up for 6 months. I am finally out to T-Mobile and much better service. The VZW most reliable network is flawed in the big cities for sure.

"Verizon plans to increase its capital expenditures by $500 million this year for the network"

And in other news, Verizon raises service prices to the collective tune of $500 million.

I'm not even in that big of a city but considering I get sometimes worse than 1X speeds with 4G going (or no connectivity even though it has a strong signal), in West Des Moines, IA, it's awful. I still recall the day LTE was turned on here and pulling insane speeds on my Bionic at the time.

I hope their lofty goal comes true.

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I live in the Urbandale/Waukee area and it has become unbearable at times, especially at work in West Des Moines during daytime hours.

wow. i lived in urbandale, decades ago when i was 3. Yes i still remember lots of it. Like giant ladybugs in the summer. And going to what i think was urbandale high school but it could have been a park for 4th of july fireworks. at 3 years old we walked and i remember cause it was like the first time i could remember in my life i'd walked past the corner that i lived on. It was a brave new world for a child. And there were no fences in the yards and our idiot dog used to run away all the time. I moved later and turned 4 years old in California and never went back. That was in the 70s.

I'm in Urbandale! We love it here! Still no fences between most houses! We moved here from California about 10 years ago.

Same here in buffalo LTE on verizon has been really unreliable where walking a city block makes a huge difference. I'm just sick of these pockets I hit thought the city that render my phone useless in a data sense.

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Verizon still seems to always have better coverage in the New England and Mid Atlantic area. Probably due to their New England Telephone/Bell Atlantic/Nynex days...

Don't know what part of Boston your are at but I live just a couple of miles out of Boston and I have not seen LTE for one freaken year. I put my Verizon account on a voulenteer suspension due to loosing my LTE signal over night. I went to bed with LTE and woke up with a very, very slow 3G & 1X. I have had a unlimited data plan from Verizon for years and figured instead of just dropping them I would suspend it and see if they have fixed their LTE issue. One year later and it has gotten worse. Screw Verizon, they want the most money for their lousy service and give you nothing. They advertise that red map of theirs with all that bright red and the knuckle heads think their service is great, it sucks people. Currently getting over 15mb and higher download on HSPA+ from T-Mobile and their LTE I'm getting over 30mb Download and their upload is averaging out at about 10-20mb. At night it's even faster. I shut my LTE radio off just to save battery because the HSPA+ speeds are just sick fast. When I want to show off I'll flip on the LTE and look out it's so freaken fast all the time day or night. I will never go back to Verizon, going to just cancel out my Verizon account and just move it over to T-Mobile with my other account. T-Mobile is the future of Mobile IMO.

It is quite funny how they charge the most, AND dont even give their customers unlimited data, yet they are having capacity constraints.

My T-Mobile plan costs less, i get unlimited data, and four times the lte speeds as my friends on verizon do.

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T-Mobile also has the least customers to deal with. If you're in a big city, T-Mobile is a good deal. If you're in a smaller city in the middle of the country and want LTE, Verizon is probably your only choice.

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This is exactly the case in my area. I live in a rural part of Western Mass and I have surprisingly widespread 4G coverage with Verizon. T-Mobile only has 2G coverage where I live.
It's a shame cuz I would LOVE to jump to them and save big $$, but right now it's just not a feasible option.

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Cool, but where I work, T-mobile users have to walk out to the sidewalk to get a signal.

T-mobile might work for you, but there's no disputing that they are not on the same level of coverage for most people.

It's not like that everywhere. Both here in Chicago and in Orlando, I have gotten basically the same LTE speeds on both T-Mobile with my Nexus 7 LTE and Verizon with my Moto X.

And including the device, I pay less with Verizon and a Moto X than I would with the equivalent plan on T-Mobile with a Moto X or Nexus 5.

I don't have T-Mobile but the billing can't be true. You're not telling the whole story.

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Believe it.

Here's my plan: (it won't let me post a link to the screencap of my plan; I messaged you a link to it)

Moto X: $200
Plan (unlimited voice/text & 2GB data): $60
over 24 months w/ phone: $1640

Moto X w/ T-Mobile: $499.99
Plan (unlimited voice/text & 2.5GB data): $60
over 24 months w/ phone: $1939.99

Nexus 5 w/ T-Mobile: $349
Plan: $60
over 24 months w/ phone: $1789

Sure, with T-Mobile I get a whole .5GB more per month, but the plans are basically the same. And the coverage with Verizon is far superior.

I'm not a Verizon Customer, but I just looked at their site...

The plan you are talking about would be $100 / mo for 1 phone...

200 for the phone, 2400 for the service...

You must be grandfathter or on a corp discount or something...

Yea he's def got something else I have to unlimited data plans on verizon and pay 100 each so 200 each month.

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I don't think it's fair, to compare a grandfathered plan to those currently available. Sure, that comparison works for you, but it's not true, for most other people. Right now, T-Mobile is cheaper than Verizon. That's a fact; and you get what you pay for.

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I said the same thing. That story don't sound right. Nexus 4 owner on T-Mobile no contract $50 month. I left Sprint. I'm n Charlotte,NC.

So the critics were right, when Verizon chose to build on an existing network a lot of folks were saying it would be a mistake. The same will happen (if it already isn't happening) to ATT who also chose to build their LTE on an existing network. Sprint is the only carrier that is building their new network from the ground up. Sprint will also be the first to deploy LTE-A on their Spark network.

T-Mobile might be able to deploy LTE-A soon too. The equipment they use is set for it too.

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Nah, Not till mod 2014. All it takes to deploy LTE-A is a server rack and a few other minor adjustments for Sprint. A few hours at max for each tower which is why the LTE-A roll out will be a fast deployment when started.

The thing is, Sprint is the one carrier that really needs LTE-A, since their LTE speeds are lagging far behind those of the other carriers.

The article is a clear indication that Verizon needs LTE-A as well. However, as I've alluded to in my initial comment, due to the type of infrastructure Verizon chose they will have issues going forward. Verizon wanted to play the race to get the most customers, so they put lipstick on an old network and now we see what happens when you play that game.

That's interesting because I heard that since T-Mobile got 4G last, the tech they use is the most modern and they will be able to deploy LTE-A first. Though, there's no doubt that Sprint needs it the most. I left them for T-Mobile and probably have more combined speed from the last 4 months with them than from Sprint for the last year.

Phillycat you are right. T-Mobile being the last Carrier to the LTE dance has had the luxury to be installing LTE Advanced hardware on all their towers. It is the same labor cost to install the Advanced hardware as the older technology. When the time is right T-Mobile will only be ready to go LTE Advanced long before the other Carriers. This isn't some info from TMZ these are facts. Every tower that T-Mobile has set up for LTE is the latest and greatest LTE Advanced. This time next year T-Mobile will be the number 3 Carrier looking for number 2. If you can buy T-Mobile stock jump on it.

Tmobile will basically enhance their current LTE (using the same network) and call it "LTE-A". Whereas Sprint will have TRUE stand alone LTE-A on a aggregate tri-band network which will provide seamless transfer and communication.

While I can see what you are saying, I stuck with them through wimax. Three family members have lte phones and their speeds are spotty at best and they rely on wi fi 90 percent of the time.

This is in the Houston market.

Maybe I will get a Nexus 5 and test lte on tmobile or att. But my vzw coverage is much better than our Sprint family lines.

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The pendulum will definitely swing back in Sprints favor once they deploy their 800 MHz signal. Sprints LTE pipes can carry a lot more bandwidth than Verizon and ATT.

Yea, let me know when that happens. Sprint has been giving us excuses for the past year or so. In Philly Sprint's service is utterly horrible. I have 3G signal more than I have LTE AND when I do have LTE its still slow.

There are myriad times when patience absolutely does not pay off. To be more specific to this topic anyone who's now not on Sprint whilst they are terrible can easily join their network if your fairy tale ends up proving true.

What part of Philly are you in? I know it's gotten way better in the northwest and center city.

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Sprints terrible always has been and always will. You can't travel 20 miles in any direction without dropped signal

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And they have the nerve to charge you $10 extra per month for their lousy 1MBps LTE download speeds.


Hasn't Sprint been saying all these things about long-term growth for years now? Most customers want good service now, not good service in a few years.

Sprint uses CDMA just like Verizon. LTE is GSM and the only major US carrier's with GSM are ATT and T-mobile (LTE is GSM). The only reason T-mobile is able to build out their LTE is because ATT gave them bandwidth and money because the merger didn't go through. Sprint doesn't have the money or the resources to ever compete with ATT or Verizon nor does T-mobile. In the last 3 years ATT has put over $20 billion into the network. I haven't seen any other wireless company invest that much. Read what PC Mag, route metrics and CNET said about the over all networks and who came up 1st, it wasnt Sprint or T-mobile.

Hahahaha, are you saying Sprint and Verizon do not have LTE?? Not to mention Softbank recently put life into Sprint to the tune of $21 BILLION DOLLARS. Sprint has more spectrum than ATT, Verizon and Tmobile combined. Google "Sprint Spark network speed test".

That's nice; and, that spectrum is completely worthless, until it's actually put into use.

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"...will be..."

We're not actually arguing, lol.

Until the Spark network has seen a substantial rollout, then it's still a pipe dream. Remember, there are areas that were promised WiMax, that have yet to see either that or LTE. They have, yet, to complete their LTE rollout, and are now starting to sell triband phones: phones that, more than likely, will be obsolete, once the majority of areas finally get LTE and Spark.

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There is one big difference with AT&T. They have fast HSPA+ if LTE gets jammed up. Verizon doesn't have that luxury.

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At least Verizon works and will continue to work for the foreseeable future. I've had Sprint in both moderately urban and rural areas for 6 years and it still doesn't have fuck-all in terms of coverage or reliability, and it won't for the foreseeable future, SoftBank bailout or not.

Then again, I was poorly treated by Sprint's incompetence after moving to a no-coverage area so I might be biased.

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AT&T had fairly decent HSPA+ service around the country before LTE, so adding LTE didn't add that huge of a strain on the network. Verizon 3G is PATHETIC, so the jump to LTE was far far larger(basically made the data speeds decent).

It really just comes down to making sure there was EXCESS capacity in place before flipping the switch to enable LTE. Also, AT&T has had the ability to scale even the HSPA+ service over multiple speeds/types of connection, so when a tower can't handle giving everyone HSPA+, it would automatically cut the protocols back down so the tower could handle the demand. Even 3G on AT&T was acceptable compared to Verizon 3G data speeds.

I know there's a lot of Verizon bashing here... but I had to point this out. Verizon's CFO is named Fran Shammo... as their services can be seen as a sham. :)

It's not just big cities. I live in a city of about 109,000; when Verizon first lit up their LTE towers I was getting 51 megabit. As more people jumped on their LTE network, speeds dropped to 4-6 megabit. I jumped over to AT&T and get 8-14 consistently on their HSPA+ network. AT&T plans to have LTE deployed some time in the next 3 months here, at which point it will be even faster.

The hell with Verizon. I switched because I was already pissed off about my Galaxy Nexus not getting timely updates, and the final straw was when they wouldn't carry the HTC One. Now I'm enjoying Android 4.3 on my AT&T HTC One while my friends with Ones on Verizon are still on 4.2.

No issues currently up in middle of Michigan. So excuse my while I return to watching jobs a 2.6gb hd video I just dl via vzw lte on my G2. And last month I used 62gb of vzw data. Cheero

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They should just charge more to increase margin and decrease customer base. Profits will likely remain the same while they'll have less customers to deal with and they can outsource those customer service jobs to Guam and India.
... I bet I could get hired as a CEO!

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Actually there customer based keeps growing. As much u and every one at Android central feel like bashing Verizon they are constantly growing. Vzw doesn't give a rats butt the 1% hard core Android users.

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They just recently lit up the tower (yes singular lol), in Bourbon where I live, and my data speeds are insane atm. Sometimes there's benefits living in a one stop light town. But, every time I drive to South Bend or Mishawaka, the speeds are slower and slower.

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Verizon is the worst thing to ever happen in the history of history!

(That's basically what we're supposed to comment whenever Verizon is mentioned in a post, right?)

Lol, not so long as Sprint exists. It's the Obamacare of cell phones.

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Interestingly enough, we have to remember that VZW is a big reason we have Android as it is, today. If it weren't for them and the push behind the OG Droid...

I've been having this issue for a minimum of the past year. Where I used to have solid 4G is now plagued with a constant back and forth battle of 3G taking over the majority of my data connection. I'm having to reset my connection almost everyday for the hopes of regaining data at all.

I have definitely been eyeing a switch to T-Mobile with this issue, but a BOLD statement of being fixed by end of year is crazy at best. While I really wish it will become reality I won't hold my breath. I will, however, see where they stand come February (my end of contract).

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I tried to get that plan at an AT&T store and they told me that the Nexus 4 was not compatible with their network and wouldn't help me!

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Here in Mid Ohio Verizon have the most complete coverage with Sprint 2nd. At my house Verizon work ok for voice but Data is very poor on 4 or 3 g. but 2 miles away i can get 19 or even 20mb speeds on LTE.
So Unless you are still on Unlimited data who cares if you can get over 20mbps when you can burn through your 2 gig limit in Less than 20 Minutes.

I'ts hard to believe so many people buy the marketing crap

True of AT&T, even, my friend went to a big halloween event in LA and everyone's phone was flat out dead, nothing, no signals at all.

I live in Orange County, CA and I'm constantly switching between 4g and 3g, I had 1x yesterday, in a very busy area. I don't have an internet connection on my phone quite a bit because of bad coverage or I'm between 3g/4g. That and extremely slow updates on my Galaxy nexus are the reasons why I can't wait to switch to T-Mobile.

And here I thought that it was the crappy radios in my Gnex all this time...

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I thought the same thing. My data in Phoenix on my gnex has been awful the last 4 or 5 months.

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I've heard it's both. My contract ends in Dec. Was planning on going to Sprint but they really botched the release of these Triband phones. Think I am going to buy an unlocked VZW G2 to keep my unlimited and hope they fix this in the next few months. If not, I will take my G2 to a prepaid carrier and wait until a large carrier/new phone entices me enough. I may just stick with one of these MVNOs though and save $10/20 a month.

I was in Richmond, VA this past weekend and data speeds continually fluctuated between 10mbps down to 1.5mbps down to 3g in some areas. There definitely is a problem. I am sure it doesn't help battery life either.

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Hmm, I'm in a big city (metropolitan area) and get at least 25Mbps and in at least 3 areas I push 70Mbps.

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It's not just the big cities. I get kicked to 3G all the time in Greenville, SC and Baton Rouge, LA. Sometimes even when it shows a 4g signal, I'll still have a wonky connection... I'll get a spinning circle or a "network error" message and then a minute later it'll start working at 4g speeds.

I'm sure it's the iPhone effect (and 4g smartphone adoption in general) and they haven't kept up with the growth at all. When I first got my 4g HTC phone, the 4g signal was very impressive - I could stream video without a hiccup and enjoyed a pretty reliable signal when in a 4g area. There were less 4g areas but the ones I was in were more reliable.

My data both in OC and LA has been acting our weird lately . No wonder why. They should start paying back all the customers in affected areas - if they had any shame. We are paying extra for their "service" not the refined Style or user experience added.
This is just like when AT&T decided to get 5 yr monopoly on iPhone and gazillion devices later (mostly new lines) realized that they might have to put a few bucks for towers in the city areas (NYC especially) l.
2 companies , 1 philosophy - collect first and invest at the last minute , if not later.

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I am recently on board. Better than STraight Talk worth the extra few bucks. They have people and stores so I can get things done when needed. Loving it so far. Don't tell anyone let's keep it a secret to prevent saturation.

Bout damn time someone admits there's a problem. Been having issues for quite a while in SLC. One of the areas to get the LTE network first.

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Well dam Verizon put up some more bandwidth, you only make $20bil a quarter. Before I dropped Verizon 6 months ago my 4g speeds were very slow like 1.5Mb and latency was very slow, sometimes had to wait 30 sec to ping a page and sometimes it just ruined out.
Verizon you make all that money USE it. Att is 50 times better in my experience.

Great comment. Very true. The shared plans were supposed to put an end to congestion and slow data. Oh well. I guess the price increase was just to fatten their wallets, not to actually make improvements, a la at&t.

I very, very rarely (maybe twice in the past 6 months?) lose 4G connectivity in Seattle, HOWEVER, the speeds are definitely not what I would like to see. At least not in certain areas. That said, our Comcrap cable isn't that much faster...

Except with sprint you pay a whole lot less now that verizon has the shared plans. My sprint data speeds have actually been improving and when I travel on vacation I get pretty good speeds. When I don't I just tether off my wife's tmobile phone.

Curious, is this a valid reason to be able to dump VZW and not have to pay the cancellation mortgage payment?

Only if you are roaming too much or have no indoor signal. If that was the case people could leave sprint without paying etf.

The only advantage verizon has is that at least you can make calls in a lot of major cities and shanty town in the us compared to tmobile or sprint. But the drawback is the speed. On LTE if its not overloaded my brother in law gets around 8mbps. But most of the time now he gets only about 2mbps. My wife's t-mobile phone works perfect where I use it 98% of the time. I never get speeds below 6mbps. From the last 2 months of having tmobile Ive only had issues 2 times in some small town I rarely go to. I'm ok with that.

Verizon thanks for acknowledging your issues and taking steps to fix it... Meanwhile most carriers don't have the integrity to admit anything they need to fix..

Bash all you want out of all US carriers who would you put your money on to acknowledge a problem and fix it when dealing with network... T-Mobile and Sprint don't have half as many people to provide service for so you guys are comparing apples and oranges... AT&T may just be the best carrier to have. I've been with Verizon for over ten years but I'm considering a change to AT&T, but not due to many of your senseles, idiotic bashing... Simply because At this time AT&T seems to satisfy the business man and phone nerd in me...

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I've had my suspicions here in the Western Detroit Suburbs for the past few months as I've slowly watched my signal strength continue to drop to the point where I even get a data connection where I used to have full 4G. I Wasn't surprised at all by their announcement. Hopefully they fix it quick. I've stayed on VZW this long only because of their network coverage and my "grandfathered" unlimited data.

This story makes me glad I left verizon over a year ago for prepaid. After they told me I would have to pay full price for a phone to keep my unlimited data.
I pay $60 for unlimited everything, Talk,Text and Unlimited,unthrottled data on MetroPCS.
I know the T-mobile network isn't for everyone, but where I live in NJ, I honestly have coverage everywhere, even inside buildings and 90% of the time it's LTE, the rest it hspa+ which honestly you can only tell the difference when running a speedtest.

In my office I get about 20mbps :)

I drive all over the country. In running speed tests, usually when I see a solid 4G signal, I've noticed a pattern.
In urban areas, I usually see low to high teens, and occasionally low twenties. It's rarely in the single digits.
In more rural areas, however, I consistently see numbers from the twenties to forties, with a few in the fifties.
I stream internet radio and podcasts, (including AC!), every night. There are dead spots, mostly in the high plains and Rockies, but rarely do I lose a signal for long.
In the interests of full disclosure, I am a grandfathered unlimited user.

Posted from the (4.2 updated) redheaded stepchild of the Nexii

Recommend VZW customers get SpeedTest - a free app and run it a few times to generate data logs. Then call Verizon customer service and demand a credit on their bill for whatever they feel the lost value is worth. Claiming impaired navigation capability or problems with email attachments will get you farther than just acting angry. Offer to sent screenshots or a data report as evidence of what you believe to be breach of contract by failure to deliver contracted services their part. Don't ask for a free month or anything like that, however getting up to 50% off your data plan is certainly within reason if you are supposed to getting LTE level service and you are not. Do this every month until resolution of the issue. Verizon evidently needs to bleed a bit as incentive to make things happen on anything other than their preferred timetable.

125.00 per month, and half the time I'm on 1x here outside of Charlotte. Killing me.

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Hell it's not just in big cities! It's terrible. It's not reliable. It shifts from 3G to 4G to 3G and sometimes doesn't work at all in Hendersonville NC.

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I remember when GTE and Cellular One competed for the same customers in the 90's in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now, we have Verizon, ATT, Sprint, and T Mobile. I have been on the same plan and company since 1995. Have considered switching, but costs more than what I currently pay. I have factored cost of equipment, monthly bill, and taxes. I will just wait for the update. I still think its not the actual network. I believe they are throttling those customers on LTE who consume a lot of data. I have great coverage where I live and work. I noticed yesterday that I couldn't connect to anything or watch a video on crackle without seeing that pesky circle in the middle of my screen and buffering under it. Its annoying but doesn't happen all the time. Read the fine print before signing up. Why did Verizon and ATT stop offering unlimited data plans?

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Just switched from Sprint to Verizon as Sprint was just plain unusable in my area outside Orlando. Orlando will be a good 4G market but not for 1-2 years. At that point I would consider a switch back. I am surprised at how often my phone switches for 4G to 3G and once to 1x with Verizon! Still better than Sprint but not as good as I hoped. Unfortunately Tmobile doesn't get great service in my area and ATT does but I get discounts with Verizon. Glad to see it should get better in the next 2 months though. Sprint was telling me it would get better by the end of 2014