08.25.2011

Verizon Networks Prepared to Serve Customers as Hurricane Irene Approaches East Coast

Verizon's wireless and wireline operations teams from Florida to Maine are completing the many tasks necessary to prepare for Hurricane Irene, which continues to push toward the East Coast.

Verizon's Business Continuity and Emergency Management team has activated its National Emergency Coordination Center, which enables Verizon executives to quickly deploy recovery efforts on their networks during emergency situations. 

Verizon's wireless and wireline networks include towers, buildings, transmission facilities and vehicles, and the company is preparing for possible flooding, power outages and downed trees and wires from Irene's aftermath.  Verizon teams are reviewing the inventory of supplies like utility poles, cable and other equipment and are staffing essential positions to meet recovery needs.

The Verizon communications networks require power to function properly.  If commercial power goes out, backup batteries and generators in Verizon's central switching offices, mobile units and field facilities keep power flowing so customers' phones ring even when the lights go out.  The company is pre-arranging fuel delivery for these critical facilities to ensure they continue to function during possible extended power outages.

In addition, trucks and other portable equipment are being moved from low-lying areas, where possible.  Building sump pumps are also being tested, and drains and gutters cleared.

Verizon Wireless

Since last year's storm season, Verizon Wireless has launched the nation's fastest, most advanced 4G LTE network in numerous markets along the East Coast and to 160 million Americans, more than half of the U.S. population; added capacity to high-speed 3G cell sites throughout the country; and installed new in-building network systems at hospitals, government and emergency facilities, high-traffic public venues and other key locations.  Each year, Verizon Wireless invests on average more than $6 billion in its network, and its ongoing network investment totals more than $65 billion nationally since it was formed in 2000.

"Wireless communication is critical before, during and after hurricanes and other weather-related emergencies," said Nancy Clark, Northeast president for Verizon Wireless.  "We work hard every day to enhance and maintain the nation's largest, most reliable wireless network and to deliver consistently superior service to our customers when and where they need it most.  Preparation is key to staying safe.  We have years of experience of planning for and maintaining service during severe weather and are very proud of how our employees and network have performed in meeting these challenges."

Verizon Telecom and Business

Chris Creager, Verizon Telecom senior vice president of national operations for consumer and mass markets, said: "At Verizon, we know how critical communications are during and after severe storms, and customers can count on our network to weather the storm.  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."

Verizon invested $16.2 billion in its wireline networks across the country over the past two years.

Verizon enterprise and government customers are encouraged to review their own business continuity plans to prepare for any possible impact as the result of Hurricane Irene.

In addition, Verizon's disaster recovery fleet of emergency vehicles stands ready to deploy to the affected region, if needed.  The fleet includes a 51-foot mobile command center; a 40-foot mobile command center; two 53-foot mobile emergency calling centers; and numerous satellite trailers.

Verizon also has the industry's first environmental hazmat response team, the Major Emergency Response Incident Team (MERIT), which will remain on standby to deploy immediately, if needed.  This team is specially trained for rapid deployment to manage hazardous materials emergencies involving or threatening Verizon's critical communications facilities or infrastructure, or other company assets.

Customer Tips for Coping With Storm Season

Wireless customers should be preparing an emergency communication plan to keep their families safe and in touch and follow these tips for storm season:

  • Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.  Consider waterproof accessories or simple zip-lock storage bags to protect devices.
  • Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged - in case local power is lost - well before warnings are issued.
  • Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for backup power.
  • Maintain a list of emergency numbers - police and fire agencies; power and insurance companies; family, friends and co-workers; etc. - and program them into your phone.
  • Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
  • Download applications from a wide variety of weather- and safety-related apps for smartphones, tablets and other devices.  Many of these apps are free.
  • Use a service such as Backup Assistant, the free Verizon Wireless application that stores a phone's address book on a secure server in case the phone is lost or damaged.

Verizon Wireless also recommends the following actions once a storm is on the way:

  • Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
  • Send brief text messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.
  • Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you evacuate.
  • Check weather and news reports on wireless phone applications when power is out.

Verizon recommends that wireline customers should consider the following tips:

  • Customers who rely solely on cordless phones in their home should consider purchasing an inexpensive hard-wired phone that plugs directly into a wall jack.  Cordless phones will not function without commercial power.
  • While home answering machines do not work without power, Verizon voice mail service powered by the network will help families communicate. 

Residential customers should contact Verizon at 1-800-VERIZON (1-800-837-4966) or online at www.verizon.com/support to report any service-related issue.  Business customers should contact their regular customer service centers or account teams as needed. 

Verizon Wireless customers can call *611 form their wireless device or 1-800-922-0204 to report any service-related issue.  For more information on the Verizon Wireless network, products and services, visit www.verizonwireless.com.

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's fastest, most advanced 4G network and largest, most reliable 3G network. The company serves 106.3 million total wireless connections, including 89.7 million retail 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.

About Verizon Communications
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, NASDAQ:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 106 million total connections nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 196,000 and last year generated consolidated revenues of $106.6 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

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