Verizon cell service goes down

Published 8:09 pm Monday, January 24, 2011

Verizon Wireless customers experienced what it was like to live without their cell phones for a few hours Monday.

Verizon cellular service was down for several hours Monday afternoon. It went out about 12:30 p.m. and was restored shortly before 4 p.m.

“Crews are aware of the information and working on it,” Verizon spokeswoman Melanie Ortel said during the outage.

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The company boasts its network as the most reliable among U.S. carriers.

Verizon provided no information about the source of the problem.

During the outage, customers’ cell phones indicated they were “searching for service” or had a line through the service icon on their screens.

The outage comes just before the company begins taking orders from existing customers for the iPhone, a long-awaited device on Verizon’s network. Until now, competitor AT&T has been the sole provider of service for the Apple smartphone.

Troy North, an employee at a Verizon store in North Suffolk, answered the phone at the store Monday with an acknowledgement that he knew about the problem.

Because the store is an authorized retailer and not a corporate store, however, he said he had no information about the cause of the service outage.

“We don’t really know anything at all,” he said.

A phone call to the Verizon store in downtown Suffolk turned up a busy signal.

City spokeswoman Debbie George said city cell phones also were affected by the outage, but it did not cause any disruption of service to citizens.

“It just was a matter of us figuring out exactly what had happened,” she said, adding that most employees thought it was only their phone at first. “We worked around it.”