Verizon 4G LTE Outage Widespread, Being Investigated

Verizon experienced two outages to 3G and 4G service in December. A new problem started early on Feb. 22, this one, says Verizon, to just its 4G data network.

Verizon Wireless customers began reporting outages to 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) services early Feb. 22.

And alas, the issue doesn't appear to be regional; subscribers in Michigan, Arizona and Virginia have posted messages to Verizon forums, Cnet reported. Additionally, Engadget heard from unhappy Verizon customers in Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"VZW is investigating customer issues in connecting to the 4GLTE data network. 3G data, voice and text services are operating reliably," Verizon Tweeted at 10:10 a.m. Feb. 22.

Despite Verizon suggesting that only its 4G service has been affected, subscribers are Tweeting that 3G data is also hurting.

In December 2011, Verizon customers dealt with two outages to 3G and 4G networks, the second coming after the one-year anniversary of its 4G LTE launch. The outages were caused by bugs in Verizon's core service-delivery architecture, GigaOm reported. While Verizon said at the time that it couldn't promise no more outages would occur, Mike Haberman, vice president of networking engineering, said the carrier was taking steps to segment its LTE network so that software bugs would be isolated to a region and unable to spread.

As of Verizon's Jan. 24 earnings call for its 2011 fourth-quarter€”its best quarter ever for LTE device sales€”the carrier offered 20 4G LTE smartphones and data devices, with more on the way.

"We are by far the market leader in 4G LTE, which is now available in 195 markets covering more than 200 million POPs, with increasing customer awareness of its superior speeds, capabilities and new high-quality devices," CFO Fran Shammo said during the call.

During the quarter, Verizon sold 1.6 million LTE smartphones and activated 4.3 million Apple iPhones€”devices that AT&T notoriously struggled to support.

With an expanding, high-speed customer base to support, Verizon has struck a deal with SpectrumCo, a joint venture between cable companies Comcast, Time Warner and BrightHouse Networks, as well as with Cox Communications, to purchase spectrum for a combined $3.9 billion.

The deal, however, has raised two concerns: first, that it will give Verizon too large a piece of the spectrum pie; and, second, that it will make partners out of competitors, since a detail of the Verizon deal is that it and the cable companies will sell each others' products.

Coming in under a Federal Communications Commission deadline, T-Mobile filed a Feb. 21 complaint with the FCC, asking it to block the deal, which it said would give Verizon an "excessive concentration" of wireless spectrum.

Nine public interest groups also filed motions to block the deals, according to a report from the Associated Press, and earlier this month, T-Mobile, Sprint and others asked that Verizon be made to clarify details of the deal's marketing arrangement so that interested parties can appropriately respond.

In January, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) also wrote to the FCC, asking that it hold a hearing to "further analyze the competitive impacts of these deals." Shortly after, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) said that he would.