Outage Shakes Trust in Verizon's New 4G Service

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-04-27 Print this article Print


It's unlikely to be a provisioning bug in the ThunderBolt phones because the same outage also took out Verizon's mobile hotspots. It's unlikely to be something wrong with just one type of data handling equipment because there is more than one type. But what is the problem? 

Again, if I had to guess, I'd suspect it's the switches that handle the traffic in each metro area. One of the tweets suggested that the 4G service would return one market at a time, and that in turn suggests that there's a common point of failure for each market, or at least a piece of equipment common at some regional level that went toes up (to use the technical term). Beyond that, I don't know, and apparently neither does anyone else outside of the Verizon Wireless engineering staff. 

I hope at some point those engineers will tell us what happened. But in the meantime, now that you can't use your ThunderBolt to watch movies on the beach, perhaps it's time to reflect on the wisdom of trusting one company's new technology with the family jewels. Chances are, given how new Verizon's 4G network is, that you didn't. In fact, chances are pretty good that you're rocking along on some 3G service somewhere, feeling relieved that you didn't upgrade. 

If that's the case, reach around and pat yourself on the back. There's usually little reason to rush into a new and unproven technology, and even when there's a good reason, you should be careful. If you really need that 4G bandwidth for business purposes, then try two or three 4G carriers, and get a feeling for which one meets your needs the best. And remember that meeting your needs includes meeting your reliability needs.  

I know that this means you'll likely have a few Verizon Wireless devices, as well as some from Sprint and a few from T-Mobile. That's OK. That way you won't have to worry about being totally without communications when the aliens come and steal all of the Verizon phone numbers. Chances are those aliens won't also get your Sprint phone numbers. 

Meanwhile, let's hope that Verizon Wireless gets the 4G problem solved and fixed along with how to keep it from happening again. Let's also hope Verizon is candid enough to explain what happened to its network. These things do happen, but they shouldn't happen twice.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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