By Bloomberg News
Verizon Wireless is planning a sweeping upgrade of its network this year after surging congestion and deteriorating speed allowed AT&T Inc. to close the gap on service quality.
Following years of Verizon dominating the industry in speed and service, its chief rival has jumped ahead. AT&T is now the performance leader based on speed tests conducted by RootMetrics and PC Magazine, meaning its network can deliver applications, websites and other data the fastest. Verizon says its starting service this summer on a network that is twice as fast, to regain its advantage and fend off AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp., which is being rejuvenated by money from SoftBank Corp.
Verizons challenge is congestion. The company is the most popular mobile-phone carrier and has continued to add millions more customers than any of its competitors, boosted by advertising and word-of-mouth about the speed of its network. All those users are soaking up the rich bandwidth that once gave Verizon its edge, in some cases bringing connections to a grinding halt.