BASKING RIDGE, N.J. - Verizon teams in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states are running check lists of the many tasks required to prepare the Verizon telecommunications network for the challenges of Tropical Storm Hanna, whether wind, rain or flooding. Operations personnel in the Northeast are likewise monitoring Hanna's intensity.
Consumers can also prepare for possible impacts as well.
"The Verizon network is a massive complex of assets, from buildings to transmission facilities to vehicles and people," said Steve Butera, the Verizon telecom director of business continuity planning and emergency management. "We've learned over the past 100-plus years what we need to do to minimize the impact of Mother Nature on our network so that service is maintained and we can respond quickly and effectively when problems do develop."
According to Butera, Verizon's regional operations support teams have begun preparing for possible flooding, power outages and downed trees and wires.
"Verizon's phone service is renowned for its reliability," he said. "When other services go down, the Verizon-powered landline phone works. That's what we work to assure."
For example, Verizon buildings where appropriate are being readied for storm protection, and portable equipment like trucks and specialized gear is being moved from low-lying areas where possible. Building sump pumps are being tested and drains and gutters cleared.
The telecommunications network requires power. If commercial power goes out, back-up batteries and generators embedded in company central offices or field facilities keep it flowing so customers' phones ring even when the lights go out. Fuel tanks for the generators, vehicles and other equipment are being topped off. Portable generators are being tested and fueled as well.
For Verizon FiOS customers whose homes are served directly over all-fiber-optic cables that have no electrical pathways, service is maintained by a power unit in their homes that includes a battery providing approximately eight hours of voice calling, with a bit more power kept in reserve for safety's sake. Customers can buy additional rechargeable batteries at electronics outlets like Radio Shack.
Verizon teams are reviewing the inventory of supplies like utility poles, cable and other equipment and are planning for staffing of essential positions.
"When threatening weather approaches, it's our job to batten down the hatches," Butera said. "In this case, we not only have Hanna to get ready for, but Ike is following closely."
Customer Check List
Electric power is often a key issue for customers, as well. Verizon suggests the following:
- If you have a cordless phone, get an inexpensive corded phone that plugs directly into the wall. If the power goes out, cordless phones won't work even though the line is still active. Corded phones will work. In addition, answering machines won't work, but Verizon voice mail service - which is powered by the network - will work and can serve as a convenient family message board.
- Make contact lists and create communications plans for loved ones before the storm comes. If you are evacuated or are otherwise unreachable, make plans to communicate via wireless calling, text messaging, the Internet or other alternatives available at relocation sites.
- Charge up all battery-powered devices you might be able to use, from wireless phones and PDAs to laptop computers, flashlights and radios. And check your supply of batteries.
- Check your local emergency readiness authorities for their recommendations and advisories about the situation in your area. Be sure to check back with them if things get worse.
- If you live in a flood-prone area, protect sensitive equipment like computers and TVs by getting them as high above ground as you can so when service comes back up, you'll be back in business quickly.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 69 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 228,600 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.