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VerizonVerizon Wireless may be paying the price for being the first carrier in the world to widely roll out LTE 4G technology.

The carrier has pointed to the relative immaturity of LTE as the reason for its 4G service outages throughout 2011, reports GigaOm, who chatted with Verizon VP of network engineering Mike Haberman yesterday.

“Being the pioneers, we’re going to experience some growing pains,” Haberman said. “These issues we’ve been experiencing are certainly regrettable but they were unforeseeable.”

Verizon’s 4G network suffered three separate outages during December, as well as a major failure in April. According to Haberman, the issues stemmed from bugs with Verizon’s service delivery core, also known as the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). Notably, every outage was the result of a completely new bug, so at least Verizon seems to be successfully squashing issues as they pop up.

“Verizon’s IMS systems are a complex network of databases, servers, routers, gateways and policy managers supplied by multiple vendors,” writes GigaOm’s Kevin Fitchard. “Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks, Acme Packet and Tekelec all provide different parts, but Haberman declined to identify which particular elements or which particular vendors were responsible for the problems. In fact, Haberman defended Verizon’s vendors saying that they were experiencing the same LTE growing pains as Verizon.”

To minimize future outages, Verizon will begin segmenting its LTE network by geographic location so that they don’t affect the network nationally, according to GigaOm. The company is also upgrading its IMS software and making other tweaks to prevent future issues.


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