Verizon's LTE is super fast, but not if it stays down and out

Summary:The Verizon 4G LTE network is still down and with the new Droid Charge launching later today, the timing is not good for consumers.

It has now been over 24 hours since the Verizon LTE network went down and those with the ThunderBolt, Charge (see James' hands-on coverage), or LTE hotspot are experiencing major outage issues. I posted on how to perform a temporary 3G fix on the ThunderBolt, but this is not comforting to me as an owner of a ThunderBolt that already has a non-working WiFi hotspot utility. I understand that LTE is new, but the delays in rolling out the ThunderBolt may be coming back to bite us consumers who jumped on the first Verizon 4G device.

I read the following on the Verizon Wireless Twitter page:

We have determined cause of 4G LTE issue & are working with major vendors to restore connections. Details as they come.

So it appears this was not a planned LTE upgrade, which would have been great for me if it fixes my major ThunderBolt issues. If it was planned, then Verizon failed at notifying customers first. Their statement makes it sound like a surprise though and now that LTE across the nation has been down for over 24 hours, it is not encouraging that the fix will be that easy. They never posted any of the "details as they come" so all of us Verizon customers are left in the dark and ThunderBolt users are left on slow 1xRTT data.

The ThunderBolt is the first Verizon device to use their new network technology that allows 3G/4G and voice at the same time, like what we see on T-Mobile and AT&T GSM networks. It appears that using this network poses some issues though as the ThunderBolt cannot switch to the older 3G network and thus goes all the way back to 1xRTT (aka EDGE on GSM networks). This switching failure may also be what is contributing to my WiFi hotspot problems as the LTE network experiences connectivity issues.

The timing for the downed LTE network is not good with the Droid Charge set to go on sale later today. Without LTE, new buyers won't be able to do much with their device and 1xRTT is not a connection that will make buyers happy. It seems LTE may be ahead of its time, much like Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom that is supposed to get LTE in the next month or two.

UPDATE: There are still no details from Verizon (I did send a note to my PR contact), but I noticed that the intended 3G connection (not that "fix" I posted about) is back up at home. I don't have 4G at my house to verify that LTE is back up, but I am seeing reports of it coming back online after about a 24 hour downtime.

UPDATE 2: Verizon sent out a note confirming LTE was back up, but this lame response was all I received when I asked what happened and is it preventable so it won't happen again:

  • Our 4G LTE network is up and running. Thank you for your patience.
  • Our network engineers and vendors quickly identified the issue and solved it.
  • Customers using the ThunderBolt have normal service.
  • Laptop users with USB modems may need to re-connect to the network when moving between 3G and 4G. This will continue to improve.

So this just tells me something happened, they found it and fixed it, and that service is restored. Can it happen again? Is there a solution for the ThunderBolt so customers can use 3G with it the next time LTE goes down?

Topics: Networking, Hardware, Mobility, Verizon, Wi-Fi

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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