Verizon Blames 4G Outages on 'Growing Pains,' Promises Improvements

According to Verizon Wireless, 4G LTE is like the Mike Seaver of wireless technologies.

In a statement, the carrier attributed three outages on its high-speed wireless network during the month of December to “growing pains” -- including a fresh one Thursday, Dec. 29. So what are these growing pains, exactly? While Verizon says each incident has been different, they all relate to the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). This is what Verizon’s VP of network engineering Mike Haberman told GigaOm during an interview.

The IMS is Verizon’s service delivery core, and it replaces the signaling architecture used in the carrier’s 2G and 3G networks. Here’s how Haberman explained each outage.

*   Dec. 7: Failure in back-up communications database

*   Last week: IMS element didn’t respond properly

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*   Dec 28th: Two IMS elements not communicating properly

To prevent these types of widespread outages in the future, Verizon is working to geographically segment its 4G network to “isoloate, contain, and rectify” network performance issues. Haberman also said that Verizon would apply software fixes more regularly.

Overall, Verizon has a huge lead on its competitors in the 4G LTE race. Its service is available in 190 markets, compared to just 15 for AT&T. Sprint won’t be rolling out 4G LTE devices until the second half of next year. Verizon also won our first annual Nationwide 4G Showdown, offering the fastest speeds around the country.

However, given that Verizon rolled out its 4G LTE technology over a year ago now, we’re not sure how patient its customers will be should these types of outages continue. It will be paramount for the carrier to minimize any damage from IMS-related bugs so that customers can at least stay connected via 3G when 4G isn’t available.

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