Verizon’s LTE Network Expands, But Questions Remain About Performance

Call it the equivalent of a public-relations carpet-bombing: Verizon Wireless today issued 11 separate press releases heralding the arrival of its 4G LTE network in a slew of smaller-sized cities across the nation, including ones you may have heard of (Hartford, Conn.) and some that don’t sound as familiar (Spartanburg, S.C.). But as Verizon continues to get PR mileage out of announcing and re-announcing LTE market locales, there are still unanswered questions about the stability of the network and unexplained LTE device delays. Though Verizon’s LTE network has apparently remained upright since its brief collapse in late April is it possible the new fast network is ruling the air about as well as King James is ruling the NBA?

Witness the “4G enabled” Xoom tablet from Motorola, which went on sale Feb. 24 with the express promise that “The Motorola XOOM will be upgradeable to 4G LTE service at no additional charge in the second quarter of 2011.” News coverage of the Xoom’s launch typically included some well-intentioned explanations as to how consumers who bought the thing would be able to send it back to Verizon to get 4G automagically installed. Only problem is — the second quarter of 2011 only has 18 days left in it, and so far there has been no news from Verizon as to when those Xoom customers might be able to send their tablets in for an upgrade. (An update from Verizon PR today said the upgrade is still “coming soon.”)

LTE device

Another area where Verizon still seems to be having LTE problems is with its data cards — even the most recent reviews on the Verizon site talk of poor connections and continuing performance problems. Granted these reviews are unvetted and may be due to operator error but the volume of people complaining is usually a fair indicator that not all is well in Verizon LTE land.

In our recent report on Verizon’s LTE business we noted that Big Red is far ahead of its competitors when it comes to network deployment — but it is possible that its aggressive push to launch LTE may now be biting Verizon a bit when it comes to keeping the high-speed network performing as advertised. It will be interesting to see if Verizon’s LTE problems have slowed the momentum the new network showed during the first part of the year, when Verizon added nearly a half-million users to its new network. We’ll watch for Verizon’s next quarterly report in July to see if the numbers have a tale to tell.

About Paul Kapustka

Paul Kapustka is a longtime journalist who has spent more than two decades covering the information technology business, Paul most recently has been focusing on mobility and how it has changed the computing and collaborative landscape. His newest project outside Mobile Enterprise 360 is a research and analysis operation called WiFi Journal. He is also editor in chief of Mobile Sports Report, which covers the intersection of mobile technology and sports business. Paul is also the founder of Sidecut Reports, a research firm that covered the emergence of 4G technology in the cellular marketplace.