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Verizon explains December LTE outages, says IP subsystem was the culprit

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Verizon told GigaOM that its three recent LTE outages were due to failures in the IP Multimedia Subsystem portion of its network, and detailed a few ways it will attempt to minimize the damage of future outages.

Verizon LTE 800 main
Verizon LTE 800 main

LTE may be one of our favorite products of 2011, but it's definitely experiencing some growing pains — and during the critical month of December, Verizon's network experienced not one or even two, but three nationwide LTE data outages. Thankfully, they didn't stop anyone from making calls, service was restored quickly, and slower 3G data often continued to work. Now, for the first time, Verizon is telling customers and shareholders what went wrong. Speaking to GigaOM, VP of engineering Mike Haberman explained that all three outages stemmed from failures in the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) portion of Verizon's network architecture. Apparently, different software glitches were responsible for each individual failure. Here's what GigaOM was told:

The first outage on Dec. 7 was caused by the failure of a back-up communications database. The second, last week, was the result of an IMS element not responding properly, while Wednesday’s outage was caused by two IMS elements not communicating properly, Haberman said.

Since each failure was reportedly caused by a different bug, and each bug is being squashed in turn, it sounds like there's not much Verizon can do to ensure future outages won't occur. Haberman says that his company is attempting to reduce any possible future damage, though, by upgrading software and by chopping the LTE network into geographical segments that can help isolate any failures that occur. Read more at our source link.

Update: Verizon's just issued an official statement about the outages, too, which echoes much of the above. Here's a sound bite: "We will not rest until our 4GLTE network performs at the very highest levels that our customers have come to expect from us."