I've been using Verizon's LTE service in midtown Manhattan NYC ever since the iPhone5 came out last year. Last year I enjoyed great speeds using LTE network, but recently it has come to a point where I simply cannot use any data during working hours (9-5 M-F) and consistently get 1-2 bars at most. I've had several calls with verizon tech support where we've been able to rule out any idiosyncratic issues with my phone - Verizon was nice enough to ship me a replacement phone overnight, only to find out that even the new phone had the exact signal issues. They sent out testing vans to my area and confirmed that there were indeed capacity issues here. This makes sense - midtown Manhattan is probably one of the busiest areas with the highest concentration of VZ users in the US. Every weekday, there's a huge influx of commuters into the city that bring additional load to the network.
However, what I don't understand is now that they've identified the problem, I don't see any large efforts being made to fix it. I was told by tier 2 support a month ago that there have been general infrastructure updates done in Manhattan - however, as seen from my speed tests below, data speeds have only gotten worse (now 10-20kbs – worse than dial-up), I’m assume as more people switch on to the LTE network. I'm paying premium fees for LTE service, but I can't even use it during the period at work where it's most useful to me (at home I can just connect to wifi). I'm not sure why more people haven't reported this problem - I'm guessing they've come to accept sub-par network coverage in NYC. Tried to do my own research to no avail, as all of my coworkers around me with an iPhone5 was smart enough to go with AT&T (and, surprise! they are all smoothly sailing with 4-5 bars).
It's not an acceptable response to be told that "there's nothing they can do" as I was by the last VZ rep I spoke with. The way I see it, Verizon needs to fix their issue as Manhattan is one of the most important areas of data coverage in the United States, or they should allow customers like me to terminate their contract early without penalty so we can switch to a service that actually works - it is after all Verizon that is breaching contract by failing to fulfill the performance claims with LTE. Something needs to be done - at the very least, New Yorkers need to be informed of these capacity issues before considering to upgrade to LTE or switch to Verizon, especially if VZ’s intent is to trap customers into non-performing contracts with no effort to address the underlying issue.
#1: one bar in midtown east Manhattan, outside in broad daylight at noon. My coworker who took this picture from his AT&T phone sent me this picture via SMS at 12:15pm. It arrived on my phone at 1:40pm. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the bottleneck was on my end of the transfer.
2#: Speed tests done back in January this year - notice the difference during work hours vs weekends and evening:
#3: Speed tests this week – getting progressively worse (10-20kbs is worse than dialup!)