07.08.2015Personal Tech

Verizon Network Technicians Share Stories From the Field

When Verizon baseline technician Clark Kent first started testing the network in 1993, there were roughly 1,500 cell towers in the United States. Today there are more than 200,000. Wireless subscribers back then numbered around 13 million. Today they number more than 335 million.

In 1993, second generation (2G) technology was relatively new, bringing a new aspect to wireless communication—text messaging.

Since then, wireless technology has grown at a staggering rate—from 2G to 3G to 4G LTE to XLTE— leading to significant traffic on wireless networks. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone and are using it to get breaking news, share pictures, video and commentary about events, navigate and so much more.

With all these changes, we asked Clark and other baseline technicians from his team to tell us what else has changed since they started driving the highways and bi-ways.

CLARK KENT, Baseline Technician since 1993

Testing geography:

Columbus, Toledo, Southeast, South Central and Marietta, Ohio; Parkersburg, Huntington, Charleston and parts of West Virginia.

Average miles traveled per year:

35,000+

Favorite thing about being on the road:

The road has no cubicles.

Least favorite thing about being on the road:

The Midwest’s unpredictable weather.

Favorite work-related experience:

I drive a vehicle that is equipped with two laptops, blacked-out windows and more than a dozen antennae mounted on it, so I get some stares. Most recently, I was testing in northern Ohio when an Ohio State Trooper pulled up across from me, took a good hard look at the vehicle, then pulled behind me, got out, came up to my window and asked, “Are you one of us?”

Once, I was being interviewed by WCMH Columbus reporter Mike Jackson, and he asked if my name was really Clark Kent. Of course I could only reply with “Is your name really Michael Jackson?”

RONALD MITCHELL, Baseline Technician since 2009

Testing geography:

Northwestern, Central and Southern Pennsylvania; Akron/Cleveland and portions of West Virginia.

Average miles traveled per year:

40,000

Favorite thing about being on the road:

I witness the changing seasons firsthand.

Least favorite thing about being on the road:

Orange barrels.

Favorite work-related experience:

Often while at a gas station, someone will ask me why I am driving such a curious vehicle. Once I tell them I’m with Verizon, inevitably they say they have our service and would never switch carriers. I like being a face of the hard work and knowing I’m helping customers gives me a feeling of pride.

Why do you think Verizon has the best, most reliable network?

In my opinion, we are the hardest working company out there. Verizon employees are dedicated, focused and determined to give our customers the best experience possible. We are constantly striving to offer the best service we can, and with an attitude like that, you can’t fail.

ROBERT KILBERT, Baseline Technician since 2006

Testing geography:

Western Pennsylvania, Central and Northern West Virginia and part of Ohio bordering Pennsylvania.

Average miles traveled per year:

34,000

Favorite thing about being on the road:

The ever-changing scenery.

Least favorite thing about being on the road:

Winter weather.

Favorite work-related experience:

I was driving down the road one day and saw what I thought was a fancy chicken struggling to get away from cars speeding by. It was limping and unable to fly. I stopped, turned on my strobe lights and put on my safety vest. I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around the “fancy chicken.” I drove down the road to the first farm and told them I had a fancy chicken that was injured. They asked to see this “fancy chicken.” When I showed them, they said it was a pheasant and they laughed. At least I saved a pheasant from being run over and gave somebody a good laugh.

Why do you think Verizon has the most reliable network?

The employees at Verizon Wireless are focused and committed to providing the best experience for the customers. We work hard to provide a reliable network.

STEVE WILLIAMS, Baseline Technician since 2006

Testing geography:

Cleveland-Akron, Canton and Mansfield, Ohio.

Average miles traveled per year:

40,000

Favorite thing about being on the road:

My office is on four wheels. I love to drive, so what’s better is I get paid for driving.

Least favorite thing about being on the road:

How my bottom feels after driving all day.

Favorite work-related experience:

I was driving home from the Cleveland area when it started to rain while the sun was still bright in the sky. I looked over to the east and noticed a double rainbow that seemed to end at my house. When I got out of my truck to look for the rainbow, it had quickly disappeared. Now, if I could just find the gold. ;)

Why do you think Verizon has the best, most reliable network?

Our Verizon Wireless employees are the most committed to making sure they provide our customers with the best and most reliable network. There isn’t anything Verizon employees won’t do to make sure our customers get a network that is worth every penny they spend on their service.

STEVE NIES, Baseline Technician since 2002

Testing geography:

Southern Ohio.

Average miles traveled per year:

60,000

Favorite thing about being on the road:

I get to choose what’s on the radio.

Least favorite thing about being on the road:

Sitting for long hours.

Favorite work-related experience:

Once I saw a car swerve off the road and careen over a guard rail. I was able to assist a young lady and her infant son, who were the passengers in the car. I also was able to save a frightened dog that was trapped in the median of the interstate.

Why do you think Verizon has the best, most reliable network?

We have the best network because we have amazing people who are empowered to make the network great.

How has network testing changed since you first started as a baseline technician for Verizon?

Clark:

In 1993, the testing involved making phone calls to test system connections and handoffs between two companies, analog only. Testing was conducted in Cleveland, Mansfield, Akron, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. Now we have new technologies from four companies testing for lost calls, ineffective attempts and upload/download speeds, while covering more areas, with five drivers in Ohio, Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Ronald:

Things have changed tremendously since I started. As we all know, the telecommunications industry is ever evolving. Data has gone from 1X to LTE and voice has gone from analog to now testing VoLTE (advanced calling). The devices and the equipment we use to test with have undergone constant change, as well. Test markets have also grown and changed.

Robert:

I’ve seen the changes in the technology over nine years. When I first started we were just beginning to test 1X data. I’ve seen the evolution of data from 1X to LTE. Voice calls were analog when I first started, and now we are testing VoLTE.

Steve W.:

There have been so many changes since I started baseline nine years ago. I can’t even list them all. We went from analog, 1X, EVDO, LTE to VoLTE. Our baseline equipment has changed from using basic flip phones to multi-data performance phones and high speed data AirCards.

Steve N.

When I first started, it was all analog voice. Now there’s 3G voice, VoLTE voice, mobile-originated calls, land-originated calls, EVDO and LTE data, uploads, downloads, etc. It’s incredible the way technology has advanced.

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