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Summary:

Verizon CFO Fran Shammo admitted that the carrier’s network quality has been compromised in some areas due to 4G LTE traffic, but a fix is on the way by the end of the year.

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Do you remember Verizon’s 4G LTE network being a lot better a year or two ago? I do. And it turns out a lot of other people might be experiencing slower-than-expected service recently as well. At an investor conference on Tuesday, Verizon’s chief financial officer Fran Shammo said that rapid traffic growth has affected Verizon’s service in some areas, particularly major cities, CNet reports.

Worse still is that some 4G LTE customers might actually see their 4G LTE service downgraded to 3G as Verizon struggles to keep up. And the speed drop from LTE to 3G is a dramatic one.

“There are certain pockets where we’re absolutely going to experience that down tick from the LTE network down to 3G because of capacity constraints,” Shammo said. Those “pockets” are likely to be major cities, where there is a higher concentration of 4G LTE users and network traffic.

While my phone is usually able to maintain a pretty consistent LTE signal in New York City, I have noticed there appears to be a much higher degree of latency recently, and downloads aren’t nearly as fast as they once were. Of course, this is partially due to the fact that Verizon has the nation’s longest running LTE network — it launched in December, 2010 — which means that it also has the most users on LTE.

According to Verizon, 4G LTE users account for 64 percent of the carrier’s traffic, even though they make up just a third of its customer base. And in many major cities, the traffic consumed by LTE devices is even higher.

Luckily, Verizon has a plan. Shammo claims the company has invested over $500 million into its network this year and is turning on more spectrum to bulk up network capacity. It’s also worth nothing that Verizon is doubling up on frequencies in many areas, which can make its LTE network more than twice as powerful.

“By the end of this year you are going to see all those issues dissipate,” he said. That isn’t too far, so hopefully this will happen before too many LTE users get a chance to see that 3G icon rear its ugly head.

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  1. I called Verizon about a month ago because my 4G speeds (in Seattle) were so consistently horrible. Their solution? They sent me a new sim card.

    1. I imagine that didn’t change anything. Have you seen any actual drops to 3G?

      1. I actually did see “3G” yesterday in Richmond, VA. As mentioned below, the total stoppage on LTE has often prompted me to manually shut off LTE and force 3G, which still was not good but usually downloaded steadily albeit slowly.

        Yesterday when I saw the “3G” I shut off cellular and turned it back on, it did nab “LTE” then and stayed on LTE, although it wasn’t very good.

      2. You are correct, the sim card didn’t change anything, and yes, I see intermittent 3G almost daily. Performance gets so bad that I turn on Wi-Fi and put up with CenturyLink’s abysmal 2.5 mbps internet service.

    2. Sorry to hear but I’m “glad” to know I’m not alone. See my post somewhere here, maybe, I’ve been sending complaints to VZW for over a year, the throughput is so astoundingly horrible.

  2. AT LAST SOME ACKNOWLEDGEMENT BY VERIZON! For well over one year I have sent them at least 15 complaints about the extraordinarily poor performance of their LTE network in Richmond, Virginia. VZW’s LTE in downtown Richmond is an absolute joke. There is plenty of signal strength but the throughput – download and upload speeds – is often below 400 kbps (0.4 Mbps) all day long. It recently took me 12 minutes to download a short video of 90 seconds. After receiving no response for a couple of minutes, often pages just “time out” on Verizon LTE. Streaming video for a Major League Baseball game for instance, a capability they widely and frequently tout on their national advertising, degenerates to blocky pixelated images and almost always defaults back to audio only with the message from MLB TV “your network does not support the bandwidth necessary to carry video”.

    I have often manually turned off LTE because the 3G is better, sluggish but it plugs along. Great advertising for Verizon Wireless, “Our 3G is better than our LTE.”

    I am located at the main downtown street at Interstate 95, 1/4 mile from the state capital, yet in the only real answer Verizon has ever provided to me they told me I was located at “a marginal area”. What a joke, highly irritating, and extremely arrogant has been Verizon. I’ll believe it when I see it!

  3. AND! Many thanks for publicizing this, Verizon has largely failed to provide me any answer.

  4. This is exactly why AT&T and even T-Mobile have better 4G networks, they are redundant, if LTE gives out, BOTH companies have 4G HSPA+ to backup to. Giving similar speed and latency time, often exactly the same as LTE.

    For Verizon touting their LTE network as being so amazing, I find it comical how Verizon has not tuned their LTE network to actually be efficient as LTE is designed for.

  5. This is exactly why AT&T and even T-Mobile have better 4G networks, they are redundant, if LTE gives out, BOTH companies have 4G HSPA+ to backup to. Giving similar speed and latency time, often exactly the same as LTE.

    For Verizon touting their LTE network as being so amazing, I find it comical how Verizon has not tuned their LTE network to actually be efficient as LTE is designed for. LTE is spectrum efficient, and capacity rich, meaning by far more people can connect to it over 3G. Yet it seems only half as many people are on LTE over 3G and it is failing.

  6. Woooo one more reason to stay with My provider. Also didnt Verizon sell its customers down the river more than once?

  7. They have been doing this for over a year…that’s why I dropped them and went to att. Even a Verizon rep (a year ago) admitted that in midtown manhattan the issued is bad and yet Verizon won’t upgrade the existing network…I was told to deal with it and move to an area with better reception…(even though my office is surrounded by windows in the heart of midtown on the 3rd floor)

  8. Matthew Hammond Friday, November 15, 2013

    I have three lines, yesterday lost 4g on my unlimited line, no 4g since. Poor timing Verizon, especially with the upcoming promo’s for $50 SGS4’s. I had justified my bill in the past with my unlimited data, near 60mb/s speed at work, and ability to connect up to ten devices on the go (3 kids, 3 tablets, 3 iTouches, my galaxy Note etc), but now… I’m considering my alternatives.

  9. My Galaxy S4 just dropped to 3G around midnight when the my data reset…. I’m so sad….

  10. I’ve been dropped to 3G in Atlanta for a few days now and its pissing me off.

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