NEW YORK - New Yorkers impacted by the disaster in lower Manhattan have made nearly a million free phone calls from Verizon payphones since the evening the tragedy occurred. They have used existing payphones and temporary wireless mobile payphones provided by Verizon so they can call loved ones, bosses, banks and businesses.
On just one day this week, customers in southern Manhattan placed more than 58,000 free calls nationwide from the fleet of more than 220 wireless payphones Verizon began installing the day after the tragedy. Residents and workers placed another 22,000 free local calls to numbers within the five boroughs from regular payphones on sidewalks below Canal Street.
"These phones are a lifeline, a link to families, bosses, friends and businesses," said William M. Freeman, president of Verizon Public Communications. "We've offered free calling since the tragedy occurred, first to help people throughout Manhattan cope with the shock of those first days and stay in touch if they couldn't get home, and now to help people in the disaster area stay connected."
Local calling is free from some 400 Verizon payphones located on sidewalks below Canal Street. Payphones in buildings or installed by other companies are not included.
Callers also can make free three-minute calls to anywhere in the continental U.S. from the wireless payphones in southern Manhattan. The wireless payphones operate like regular wireless phones. When the receiver is lifted, the phone first must establish a radio connection with the wireless network and when dialing is complete, the call is connected over wireless facilities. Slight pauses in these processes are normal, as with wireless phones.
Many customers in lower Manhattan lost phone service as a result of the Sept. attack. A major Verizon switching center at 140 West St. and the cables and wires that connect homes and businesses in the area were severely damaged when the World Trade Center towers collapsed and when 7 World Trade Center fell against the West Street building.
By 6 p.m. Sept. 11, the company made calling free from 4,000 curbside payphones throughout Manhattan. Free calling from outdoor pedestal payphones continues south of Canal Street. By Wednesday, the company was installing the wireless payphones as well.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 125 million access line equivalents and approximately 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with about 260,000 employees and more than $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.