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Verizon LTE getting AWS upgrades, even as execs admit to some performance 'hot spots'

Matt Hamblen | Dec. 17, 2013
Network monitor Root Metrics says Verizon's AWS upgrade is boosting performace of non-AWS phones in some areas

Any problems reported by customers with Verizon LTE could stem from the fact that the carrier started rolling out the technology a year earlier than other U.S. carriers and "has a higher installed base that would be pushing down some of those speeds," Moore said.

AWS has helped Verizon triple LTE capacity in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle and Washington, while boosting capacity by 150% in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Verizon Wireless Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer said in a recent interview with Gigaom. Download speeds in those cities could reach 80 Mbps, with theoretical speeds of up to 150 Mbps.

Pica also noted that Verizon is adding more macro and small cells to make its coverage more dense, and adding more in-building wireless systems. LTE-Advanced is also in the works, he said.

Pica said McAdam's comment last week stems partly from his being a "very upfront guy." He indicated also that Verizon deals with more data demands than ever on its LTE network.

Video was largely a novelty in wireless before LTE came to Verizon and "when customers discovered it, they ate it up," Pica said. User concerns about network speeds have occurred in "pockets that we are quickly addressing with our AWS spectrum deployment, our plan all along," Pica said.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said that capacity and speed concerns over wireless "usually are in selected areas, just like on highways with commuters. Sometimes you move forward, and then hit a curve and it all slows down."

All the carriers struggle in certain markets, said Phillip Redman, vice president of mobile solutions and strategy at Citrix. Redman, a former Gartner analyst who closely followed carrier networks for years, said Verizon was known to have speed problems in San Francisco and San Diego in particular.

"Bigger markets are especially difficult due to the network demands," Redman said, adding that "networks are built with an estimated amount of capacity. It is expensive to overbuild. In some cases demand exceeds capacity, which leads to poor network performance."

The fact that Verizon and other carriers are constantly expanding networks and will acknowledge the need to do so is a plus for consumers, said Moore. "The bottom line of the ebb and flow of network performance is that the consumer is still winning," he said. "It's an arms race."


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