Verizon announced this morning that service has been restored to its 4G LTE network, following a nationwide outage that lasted more than 24 hours. I can vouch that it’s back, since I’m publishing this blog post using my Verizon 4G USB modem. And while I’m glad the network has returned, the outage has shaken my already wavering confidence in Verizon.
Some personal context: I was a happy customer of a Verizon 3G modem for more than a year when a salesperson persuaded me to make the switch to 4G. I was told that it would not only give me a faster connection, but Verizon would actually switch me to a cheaper plan to save me a few dollars a month. It seemed like there was no downside, so I made the switch. (Since the salesperson contacted me a few days before the launch of the Verizon iPhone, I wondered if the carrier was trying to offload some of its data-intensive 3G users to clear the way for the iPhone. When I I asked a Verizon spokesperson if this was true, she denied it.)
Since then, however, I’ve frequently regretted the move. Yes, the 4G network is faster … when I can actually connect. Unfortunately, the connection gets dropped frequently, or it fails to connect in the first place. That’s especially true when I’m on the move. Trying to connect while in a train or a car is almost as bad as trying to make a call in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood while on my AT&T iPhone. I never had any of these problems on 3G.
Now, you may just chalk this up as a personal grievance, rather than a broader issue with Verizon’s network. After all, VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi has a 4G modem from Verizon too, and when I complained to him he seemed slightly mystified. (I’ve also emailed Verizon to see if it wants to comment, and I’ll update if I get a response.)
But yesterday’s outage confirmed my sense that, despite Verizon’s statements to the contrary, the technology has some real issues. I mean, I may complain about unreliable service from AT&T, but during my time as a customer, I’ve never completely lost data usage for more than 24 hours. And while Verizon said that 4G users would still be able to make calls despite the outage, that didn’t do me a lot of good — I pay Verizon $60-ish a month because I need to be able to write and publish from anywhere, not “almost anywhere, assuming you’re not moving, and assuming we’re not having any serious network issues, which could last for a whole day.” Yesterday’s outage meant that I had to waste a lot of time wandering downtown San Francisco in search of WiFi, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid.
So while others complain that the Verizon iPhone doesn’t support 4G yet, I’m wondering: Can I have my 3G back now?