Verizon restores LTE data network after outage

Delays sale of second LTE phone, the Droid Charge

Verizon Wireless said its 4G LTE network was "up and running" at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, following a nationwide outage that began late Tuesday.

Verizon also delayed Thursday's scheduled first-day sale of the Droid Charge from Samsung, its second LTE-ready phone, a store representative in suburban Boston said. The reason for the sales delay was unclear, although some bloggers speculated it might have been due to the LTE network outage, which would have prevented activations of the new Charge.

The nationwide LTE outage, which lasted more than a day, meant Verizon customers could not get the faster LTE data speeds on their smartphones and were reverted to 3G speeds or the even slower CDMA 1xRtt speeds, Verizon said late Wednesday in a statement. Voice and text were not affected on Verizon's first LTE phone, the ThunderBolt, since LTE is only related to data.

"Our network engineers and vendors quickly identified the issue and solved it," said Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson via email. "Customers using the ThunderBolt have normal service."

One owner of a ThunderBolt in Framingham, Mass., reported the 4G LTE connection was indeed working Thursday morning, after noticing email troubles on the device late Wednesday.

Nelson said that some laptop users with USB modems on LTE may need to re-connect to the network when they move between 3G and 4G towers. "This will continue to improve," he said.

Verizon officials couldn't be reached to explain the Droid Charge sales delay, although the store representative said "they told us it isn't ready." The store representative also said to check availability online since the device wouldn't be available in any stores. Verizon's Web site didn't list the device as being on sale Thursday.

LTE gives users speeds of 6.5 Mbps downstream, about 10 times what the CDMA network in 3G would offer. Many users might not have known about the LTE outage, since data would move to the CDMA network when LTE is not available.

Verizon didn't explain the cause of the outage in any detail. LTE was launched late in 2010 on Verizon and is available in 45 cities and 60 airports, according to Verizon's Web site.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

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