Verizon says 4G LTE service is back to normal

One-day problem made 4G devices slow to 3G rates

Verizon Wireless said its nationwide 4G LTE network service returned to normal Wednesday night after a technical issue was resolved.

In a statement issued shortly before 9 a.m. ET today, Verizon gave no explanation for the problem that it said developed late Tuesday and was resolved by Wednesday evening. Customers mainly reported intermittent or unavailable 4G services or said their 4G devices were operating at 3G speeds, about one-tenth as fast as 4G.

"The company's network operations team resolved a technical issue," Verizon spokesman Tom Pica said in the emailed statement.

Pica said all customers were still able to make voice calls and send and receive text messages, adding that all 3G data devices operated normally. LTE (long-term evolution) is a data service only.

Some customers, including people in Washington, Indianapolis and New York, reported on a Verizon community blog at 7 a.m. today that 4G service seemed to be back to normal.

However, one customer in Provo, Utah, said there was no 4G service there at 6:28 a.m. ET today.

The Verizon statement came after customers complained that Verizon wasn't offering an explanation of the problem. One customer complained this morning: "Official announcement? No way, not in this competitive market. They're going to bury it and hope that enough customers won't go telling their friends NOT to get new 4G service based on a few outages, that's about it. Let's be serious."

Verizon issued a statement emailed to the news media late Wednesday saying it was working to resolve the issue, and then followed it with this morning's statement saying service had returned to normal later Wednesday evening.

Verizon operates 4G LTE services in 179 cities, which together represent a population of 186 million people. The company has also gradually released new smartphones and tablets that operate with the data service at download speeds of up to 12Mbps.

Verizon seemed to have a similar problem with its LTE network in April, when users saw their 4G speeds slow to 3G rates. In April, that problem was accompanied by a delay in Verizon's scheduled launch of the Droid Charge smartphone from Samsung, its second LTE-ready phone. The reason for the delay was unclear, although many associated it with the LTE problem.

During the most recent LTE network slowdown, Verizon has been expected to announce the release of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone over LTE. Some bloggers expect the Galaxy Nexus to be released Friday, but Verizon has not given an official release date. The phone is already available in the U.K. and Canada.

Some reports also theorized that the Galaxy Nexus release delay stems from a disagreement between Verizon and Google over Google Wallet. Google has said Verizon asked Google not to run Google Wallet on the device. Others have linked the delay to a volume fluctuation issue seen on the Galaxy Nexus in the U.K.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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