On Thursday, Verizon Wireless said in a statement, “Being a pioneer comes with growing pains.”
The company has experienced three rounds of disruptions to it’s LTE network this month already, on December 7, December 21, and on Wednesday.
During these disruptions, Verizon “proactively moved” it’s customers from the 4G LTE network to their 3G network. However, on Wednesday, Verizon said that some of their 4G customers “could not connect to the 3G Network as quickly as [they] would have liked.”
Verizon says that each incident has been caused by a different technical problem, and that their engineers have fixed each problem so that it has not reoccured.
In an interview with GigaOm, Mike Haberman, Verizon’s Wireless VP, gave some more details into these bugs that they’ve been experiencing.
The problems were all caused by the IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS) which is Verizon’s service delivery core. According to Haberman, the IMS replaces the old signaling architectures used in 2G and 3G networks, and while IMS has existed for a long time now, since Verizon is the first to use it with their LTE network, it’s been a problem since April.
So what exactly caused the outages in December? Haberman had the answer. On December 7, the bug was caused by the failure of a back-up communications database. December 21 was the result of an IMS element not responding properly, and on Wednesday, two IMS elements weren’t communicating properly, causing the outage.
Sounds complicated right? Essentially, Verizon’s phones were trying to connect to the LTE network but kept getting rejected until Verizon manually forced the phones back to the 3G network.
What is Verizon doing in response to this new flood of bugs? Haberman says that he has begun to geographically segment the LTE network, so that if a bug does appear it can be isolated to a particular region or market instead of spreading around the country.
“Our goal is to ensure that our 4G network meets the same high standard that our 3G network does,” Haberman said. “We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there.”
One of the major issues is that Verizon touts itself as the nation’s “most reliable network”, but these outages could not have helped, especially since they came during the month of probably the most activations due to the gifting of phones. However, Verizon shouldn’t be so criticized considering they are the first cell phone provider to use the LTE network, so as Haberman points out, it will be the first provider to face the bugs and glitches that are in this new technology.
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