Verizon Wireless hit with third network outage in a month

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Verizon Wireless, the so-called ‘Big Red’ cellular provider, seems to be picking up its own red phone lately.

For the third time in December, Verizon customers around the nation are reporting widespread outages of the company’s newer, faster 4G wireless service, as well as spotty performance of the older 3G service.


‘If I am lucky enough to get 3G, it lasts for about 5 minutes and then I lose data completely,’ wrote a customer named DaphneP on Verizon’s website. ‘I haven’t seen 4G yet today. GRRRR....super frustrating.’

Complaints about both the 3G and 4G networks flooded in Wednesday from customers in more than a dozen states, including Arizona, Texas, Maryland, Washington, Illinois and North Carolina.

Verizon acknowledged it was looking into the customers reports of outages on its 4G network and seemed to suggest that the troubles were related to newer 4G smartphones.

‘3G devices are operating normally,’ the company said in a statement.

The outages are problematic for Verizon, which has heavily promoted its 4G service since unveiling it last year, including the introduction of a line of 4G smartphones and a series of expansions that it said would bring 4G service to 175 U.S. markets by the end of 2011. Verizon said its 4G speeds are about 10 times faster than the 3G service still used by most U.S. cellular customers.

Still, the company has endured at least four siginificant outages since April, including three this month. An outage Dec. 21 was preceded by another one early in the month. The company has not offered details on the cause of the issues.

Customers who had purchased 4G phones expressed dismay about the service’s spottiness.

‘Good thing I upgraded to a Galaxy Nexus today,’ wrote a commenter on Verizon’s online forum named FreedonNadd, who said he was from Boise, Idaho. ‘It’s a really pretty brick right now.’


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-- David Sarno