Since CES 2010, Verizon has been hard at work launching 4G LTE products and expanding their 4G coverage, but it's hit a few bumps in the road as of late. The month of December was particularly bad for Verizon and its customers who have taken on 4G devices expecting the same rock solid coverage they've always had with Verizon 3G service. Verizon Wireless's VP of network engineering, Mike Haberman, took the time to break things down for GigaOm (and the rest of us via a press release) and explain a little of what has been happening behind the scenes at Verizon to cause the recent issues.
Starting with the December 7th outage caused by a failure of its back-up communications database, Haberman then noted December 21st downtime that was caused by a portion of their IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) — which replaces the old signaling architectures used in 2G and 3G networks. Finally, the most recent failure on December 28th was caused by was caused by two IMS elements not communicating properly.
In all cases, the IP Multimedia Subsystem was the root cause but once fixed the same issues never occurred again. In other words, they were presumably isolated bugs in the system which are bound to be a part of expanding a nationwide network of this nature. "Being the pioneers, we're going to experience some growing pains," Haberman said.
Haberman isn't hiding from the issues and notes "These issues we've been experiencing are certainly regrettable but they were unforeseeable." and highlighted Verizon's goal which "is to ensure that our 4G networks meets the same high standard that our 3G network does, we’re not there yet, but we’ll get there."
So does Verizon deserve some slack here? That's a matter of personal opinion. Reality is, launching a new nationwide network with bleeding edge technology is hard and there's bound to be some bugs that are destined to wreak havoc. In these cases, the errors found within the system caused issues for many users but in Verizon's defense, you can't really place a "beta" tag on a network so to speak. However, you can stop introducing ridiculous fees and messing with upgrade policies that upset customers when some are already upset with their services.