Blog Post

Verizon’s LTE outage problems just won’t stop

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Updated. Verizon’s(s vz)(s vzw) continuing struggle to keep its LTE network running consistently has landed it in the news again. Wednesday morning, Verizon Wireless reported on its Twitter feed that it is looking into customer complaints about its 4G service going down, and Engadget and Phandroid are reporting network outages in several markets ranging from Phoenix, Ariz., to Indianapolis, Ind.

According to Verizon’s tweet, only the 4G network appears to be affected:

VZW is investigating customer issues in connecting to the 4GLTE data network. 3G data, voice and text services are operating reliably.

Update: At 10:21 PT, Verizon notified customers through its Twitter feed that LTE service had been fully restored. Verizon called the outage a “brief issue,” which may be true, but it certainly wasn’t a localized one. As you can see in the comments to this post, GigaOM readers reported losing 4G connectivity, and sometimes 3G, from all over the country.

Depending on the scope and duration of the problem, this outage could pass by with little notice, or it could be another black eye for Big Red, which suffered a chain of big LTE failures in December. Those problems were all caused by bugs in Verizon’s core service delivery architecture – in telco speak called the IP Multimedia Subsystem, or IMS – but Verizon VP of network engineering Mike Haberman said the carrier had since taken multiple steps to ensure that such problems wouldn’t occur again. From our December post:

While Verizon won’t promise that no more outages will occur, Haberman said it has taken measures to ensure that they’re minimized when they do happen in the future. He said he’s begun geographically segmenting the LTE network, so if a software bug does break out it can be isolated to a particular region or market instead of spreading nationwide. Verizon is also upgrading all of its software and cutting down on the signaling clutter running over its IMS grid.

“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.”

In the current outage, 3G service appears to be working for LTE smartphone customers as it did in previous outages. Thus, Verizon may  be experiencing problems with its IMS core once again.

18 Responses to “Verizon’s LTE outage problems just won’t stop”

  1. Epacketcore

    Educate people on this type of articles, and educate yourself before, first LTE is a data only network, and therefore IMS subsystem is there with the intent to provide VOIP, and I believe this is not yet in production. A subset of the IMS is the HSS which tells people whether they can use the system or not, it is in a way the AAA system, there are other “sub-systems” all interconnected to provide the end user experience. And some are part of the IMS, some part of the Core (again data only) and some the access all the way to the RF, which obviously this last one is localized or geographically dependent. So this last one was not the cuase of an over all outage – all eNodeBs would have had to fail, which is nearly impossible. So back at the core, there are 3 major functions that impact the end user and 1 one that is vital to the operator, this last oe being the OAM, system this just make visible the node for management, performance (KPIs) and Fault management (alarms). There is one function that is “shared” by all functions and that is transport, or routing, which in turn has a “sub-function” called QoS, on a 3GPP system like the LTE there is 2 types of QoS : 3GPP based for the flow of packets within wireless nodes: MME, enodeB, and “Differentiated Services” QoS for an “IP” network. The other 2 functions are Security and the other one Mobility. Many other functions can be listed, but they are truly functions of other systems not the wireless network perse: Billing -pcrf, customer provisioning, Prepaid systems, etc. So in order for a whole network to fail is either the transport is all messed up: that would be CISCO’s fault since they provide the transport equipment. The Diamater-based HSS or AAA system failed -> which in turn forbids access to customers. Or the Ericsson core the one that takes care of Mobility and access to the internet. I am inclined to this one, since it was morons who installed and tested it – me being one of them.

  2. Mobile Boffin

    Without any proof whatsoever, I’d guess these problems aren’t caused by the unique mix of CDMA and LTE but rather a core component that is so big and interconnected that even after 4 national outages, it is deemed easier to fix in place than bring in a substitute. Specifically, I’d be looking at the One-NDS system from NSN which manages all the subscriber data for many core systems.