News Release

"These Days, A Chicken Leg Is A Rare Dish"

Strange Sentences Help Verizon Wireless Test Its Network

March 23, 2010

Tom Pica
Thomas.Pica@VerizonWireless.com
914-772-0757
http://twitter.com/VZWNetwork

BASKING RIDGE, NJ — What do the following three sentences have in common? “These days, a chicken leg is a rare dish.” “It’s easy to tell the depth of a well.” “The clock struck to mark the third period.” And what do they tell Verizon Wireless, provider of the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G network, about the strength of its network? More than one would think!

The Verizon Wireless team of real-life test men and women use these sentences, known as Harvard Sentences, which were developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1969, to help them monitor and test the company’s voice network.

Harvard Sentences, or IEEE Recommended Practice for Speech Quality Measurements, are sets of sentences, each balanced phonically to reflect the frequencies of phonemes in language1. Historically, the phrases have been used in standardized testing of cellular and other telephone systems. With over 500 Harvard Sentences available, here are 10 that Verizon Wireless uses daily in the company’s network testing efforts:

  • “The source of the huge river is the clear spring.”
  • “These days, a chicken leg is a rare dish.”
  • “Throw the box beside the parked truck.”
  • “He ran halfway to the hardware store.”
  • “The clock struck to mark the third period.”
  • “It’s easy to tell the depth of a well.”
  • “The boss ran the show with a watchful eye.”
  • “The cup cracked and spilled its contents.”
  • “The frosty air passed through the coat.”
  • “A king ruled the state in the early days.”

Using sophisticated testing equipment, Verizon Wireless test men and women conduct more than 3.5 million voice call attempts annually, playing the Harvard Sentences to audibly identify when a test call has connected and results are being processed. The results of these tests and the company’s data tests are used to help Verizon Wireless fine-tune its ongoing network investments and enhancements. Learn more about Verizon Wireless’ testing process at http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2010/03/pr2010-03-23h.html.

Stay up to date on Verizon Wireless’ latest network news, stories and information at www.youtube.com/verizonwirelessTV or follow the VZWNetwork on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VZWNetwork.

For more information about Verizon Wireless, visit www.verizonwireless.com.

1. Carmell, Tim. “Spectrogram Reading.” Center for Spoken Language Understanding at OGI. 15 March, 1997.

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving more than 91 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 83,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD). For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

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