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Verizon's LTE Traffic Challenge a 'Good to Have' Problem

By Craig Galbraith
November 14, 2013 - News

Customers are piling onto Verizon's 4G LTE network and streaming video at a pace faster than the carrier expected.

That's causing some hiccups, particularly in larger cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago, where Verizon has acknowledged that quality of service is suffering a bit due to all of that traffic, particularly video traffic. Overcapacity is pushing some users off of Verizon's 4G network and onto 3G. The news doesn't come as a big shock if you've been monitoring the U.S. wireless industry.

“Verizon's challenges aren't surprising, given that it's been disclosing how quickly the percentage of its data traffic has been shifting to LTE for some time now — up to 64 percent by its latest count," noted Yankee Group senior analyst Rich Karpinski, commenting specifically on a CNET article. "Tapping small cells for hot spot coverage and moving more rapidly than expected to tap into AWS spectrum it acquired from cable operators ... will help solve this good-to-have ‘problem.’

What Karpinski did find surprising in the carrier's comments this week was just how much video streaming is playing a role in the network overload, considering that Verizon's tier-based pricing "has the potential to quickly drive up data costs for heavy video users."

"Verizon's shared data plans could lessen that impact in some cases by spreading a bigger pool of data across more devices, cushioning the impact of one device’s outlier video usage. But increasing 4G video usage is a trend worth watching for all operators — especially those offering unlimited plans," the analyst added.

Verizon is taking a number of steps to greatly reduce these problems by the end of the year.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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