I live in rural western New York, and in my hometown (population ~5,400) the 3G service is severely overloaded. At night (i.e. 1 AM or so), or rare other times, you can get decent speeds (800k down), but at peak times and the weekends, it's so stressed as to be functionally unusable. Last Sunday it was running so slowly I couldn't even send a 60K picture message, let alone actually get online. I've confirmed this using multiple devices on multiple different accounts, so it's not just me or my device.
The sad part is, this is only about 30 minutes drive from 4G coverage in the Rochester market, and 45 minutes from 4G in the Buffalo market, but out here we can't even get 3G.
Having data connectivity at our fingertips is a luxury that has evolved into a necessity in today’s wireless world! I can certainly understand how important it is to have consistent and reliable. I would like to partner with you so we can research your 3G connectivity in your area. May I ask what make and model device do you have? In order for me to research this further then I would need some information from you, such as your full name, mobile number, and a brief summary of the issue. If you would like to send me this information in a DM then that would be great! I look forward to hearing from you.
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While I'm waiting to be able to send you my account data, here's my field report.
I've verified these symptoms on two phones I own (Samsung Stratosphere and Motorola Droid Bionic) and two tablets (Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE and Motorola XOOM) using three different accounts, as well as various devices I've been given for review by my company (Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S III, etcetera). I've also had friends and family in the area make similar complaints, so I feel pretty comfortable therefore saying that this is indeed a network issue, nothing to do with my devices. At home, where I've done the most testing, I'm seeing an average of -85 dBm signal from the nearest tower, so it's also not a lack of signal strength. From the behavior, I would guess that it's over-capacity loading on the network, but it's also possible that it might be failing networking hardware at the tower.
3G in my area has predictably slowed down as more and more people have gotten online, but it's only been in the last few weeks or so that it's really gone from "inconvenient" to becoming a serious issue. First 3G began slowing down to more of a crawl than usual. Previously, it was possible to get 300 to 500 Kbits/second at least a lot of the time. However, that's dropped to speeds around 100 Kbits or below during the daytime, sometimes as little as 50 kbits. (Yes, bits not bytes.) It improves in the middle of the night; I've tested it as high as 800 kbits/second around 1 AM, which is why I suspect a load issue.
That's not all, though. Recently at times the connection has been so bad that I've had problems sending or receiving picture messages, often being completely unable to do so for hours at a time. 3G will frequently suffer broken connections, or the device getting dumped off 3G entirely, having to wait a minute or so before it can reconnect. At its worst, 3G is disconnecting every 2 to 5 minutes. Text messages are also sometimes delayed, from 5 to 20 minutes. Lag times also fluctuate wildly, ranging from 600 milliseconds up to 2400 milliseconds. None of these things happen reliably; the only problem which is continuous is the speed.
I don't spend a lot of time on voice calling, so I do NOT know if the local network is currently dropping a significant number of calls.
As I said, I've tested this out on a large number of devices and multiple accounts including the ones Verizon's PR department provides to my company. All of them have experienced similar problems. I've tried to narrow it down to a specific tower or towers, but unfortunately that's hampered by the lack of information about where specific Verizon sites are, so all I can say is that the problem seems to be centered around Warsaw, NY. Warsaw is on Route 20A about halfway between the southern reaches of the Rochester market and southern reaches of Buffalo. I'm guessing, however, that we would probably be viewed as part of the Rochester market as far as VZW is concerned.