Gary Fankhauser, system performance technician at Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), is one of 100 technicians who test Verizon's network nationwide every day. Fankhauser drives about 30,000 to 40,000 miles per year in his five-state territory in the Western U.S. In Denver alone, Fankhauser drives about 1,300 miles every quarter, tracing the same route and noting any changes in the network. Nationwide, Verizon's technicians drive about 1 million miles per year.
Fankhauser primarily drives the major highways and streets in his territory, but also drives in areas at the request of Verizon engineers to check potential trouble spots in the network.
But Fankhauser and the other Verizon test drivers don't just check Verizon's network--they also check competitors' networks. Their Verizon trucks are outfitted with phones and data cards from Verizon as well as AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), T-Mobile USA, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and others.
Of course, Verizon isn't the only U.S. operator that drive tests its network. Sprint Nextel also has a fleet of test vehicles and a team of test technicians.
Recently, FierceWireless Editor in Chief Sue Marek rode along with Fankhauser as he tested Verizon's network in Denver. Check out her photos of the Verizon test van.