April 27, 2011 at 5:58 PM ET
UPDATE: Verizon has just released this statement, giving the all clear:
- Our 4G LTE network is up and running. Our network engineers and vendors quickly identified the issue and solved it.
- Customers using the ThunderBolt have normal service.
- Laptop users with USB modems may need to re-connect to the network when moving between 3G and 4G. This will continue to improve.
For the past day or two, I've noticed poor performance on two trial 4G phones and a 4G wireless hotspot from Verizon Wireless. Last night, network access was completely blocked. Now I know why: Verizon announced today that its 4G network was down.
It seems the 4G outage means no 3G access for the HTC ThunderBolt and Samsung Charge phones and the mobile hotspots from Novatel and Samsung. In many cases, there's no data throughput but, in some instances, phones can pull a trickle of data through the old pipeline, known as 1XRTT, that preceded Verizon's 3G network. For many applications, that's not enough to run. You just get an error, or a timeout, or a blank stare from your device.
The outage is summarized in an email from Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson:
We are aware of an issue with 4G LTE data connections and our network engineers are working to resolve this quickly. We have determined the cause of our issue and are working with our major vendors to restore connections.
- 4G LTE Smartphones will still be able to make calls.
- Customers are temporarily unable to activate any 4G LTE devices.
- Please note: Customers may experience a 1XRTT data connection during this time.
- After determining the cause of our 4G LTE network connection issue, we are continuing to work to restore connections.
- We expect to see the network restored on a market-by-market basis. Timing and additional details will be provided as they become available.
Prior to Nelson's statement, Verizon had tweeted a string of brief statements, starting with one at around 9am Eastern today. We're in touch with the company directly, and will update when new information comes to light.
While it's not surprising that Verizon would have growing pains, an outage this early is a downer. Hopefully it's not a sign of things to come. Verizon is supposed to be the network that costs the most because it's more reliable. If the reliability goes, what will people think of the carrier?
As luck would have it, tomorrow we'll have a live chat about the pros and cons of buying a 4G phone right now. Join Wilson at gadgetbox.msnbc.com at 3pm Eastern (12 noon Pacific), and bring all your pressing questions and concerns about the newest mobile technology.