Some Verizon users might be dropped down to 3G as carrier struggles with 4G LTE traffic in major cities

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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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