Yeah, it could very much be attributed to congestion. People probably aren't utilizing the network as much in the morning, and then there's a lot of saturation in the evening. Usually how things go.
Verizon does most of its cell work in the late hours and with the removal of unlimited data your theory sounds plausible. It used to be from around 7am to 6pm things would be the slowest but I think those users now Wi-Fi instead when possible. From about 5pm to 9 pm are my slowest times now instead of mid morning.
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interesting I think that is why vzw may be needing to go to AWS technology to help with issues of congestion. I am curious how many people on verizon are experiencing this issue and did vzw rush to get the towers up to be "first" and now are needing to go back and update to handle more congestion?
Personally since going to at&t my lte has been consistent but that is in my area want to see if they are having issues in high congestion areas as well. Plus vzw is arguably the largest carrier so they may be running into issues other carriers may not have to deal with still for them to be as reliable is impressive.
Peak usage hours certainly does create latency issues, and time shifting might not correct this either, if more people are doing the same thing.
My little corner of the world rarely has congestion issues, as there are no where near as many users available to cause congestion. But there are almost no 4G systems here, and those that are available, are not accessible to me from home, I have to drive 13 miles west, so that is not happening just so I can use 4G.
I drive to customer's locations all the time, and after dragging test equipment around all day, I have no desire to drag my tired butt into town just to chat on 4G systems.
If I need to do this, I'll climb my tower and place a few 23 element Yagi antennas at 75' and feed them with 3/4" heliax, terminating at my Wilson adjustable bi-directional amplifier.
Signal power, I have plenty in reserve.
Its basically the backhaul. The basic idea is this, if you have a 10 Gigbit connection and you have 10 people using it, thats not too bad. If you have the same connection and 1000 people using it, it will be a lot slower for everyone.
The back haul data is the reverse channel for data, the latency is bidirectional, and as more users access a single tower, that site's latency increases with proportional loading.
Also, every phone has an overload access number assigned to it, the higher that number, the faster you get dumped in favor of a lower ordered number when loading begins to become a problem on specific tower sites.
An in-state carrier I contract for does this, and it is part of the commissioning phase of the build-out for specific sites, with fire and medical always acquiring the highest access overload numbers, and the rest of us peons get the lower-ordered access. Doing what I do, I am able to make changes to our phones so we are never dumped in favor of anyone, sort of selfish, but a perk I can live with. Since I have to answer calls for system outages at all hours, I also need to know if I need to call for assistance, I will not be dropped in favor of a facebook update.
A picture of a VZW reverse channel tower signal, taken from my home monitoring system.