10.14.2015Personal Tech

Secret Verizon Switch Centers Uphold Promise of Reliability

We text, we call, we search, post, tweet and stream. With our devices in hand, we have access to unlimited activities, apps, people and options. The power of the network goes well beyond our daily activities, and organizations are becoming dependent on wireless data to control inventory and monitor traffic cameras, railroad crossings and even patients’ health.

With wireless data usage, in particular, growing at a mind-blowing rate, it’s never been more important to have a connection you can count on. As we’re all using our wireless devices to connect, monitor, view and post, we don’t generally stop to think where all this wireless traffic goes and how it seems to flow seamlessly. We’ll let you in on a little secret – it doesn’t stop at a cell tower. Across the country, there are unmarked, undisclosed locations called switching centers (or switches) that act as the control center for all local cell towers.

Consider them the brain of an octopus where each tower acts as a tentacle. This is where each call, text and bit of data is processed. Very few have the opportunity to actually peek behind the curtain of these super secret facilities and see how it all works. But, now you can see the inside of one of these switchcenters right here…by taking this virtual tour.


These buildings are designed withreliability in mind. Precautions and redundancies are set up for unwavering service, especially during a crisis when better matters most. It is vitally important for Verizon’s network operations team, including Ohio’s director of operations, Clayton Burkhart, to forecast and anticipate crises in the community for proper preparedness. In monitoring rooms, engineers watch the local news, weather and call ratio.

Keeping an eye on the weather allows the network teams to anticipate any large storms that could disrupt coverage, knock out power or increase the capacity of calls. If the call ratio in one area is unusual, the engineers can shift capacity from surrounding areas to allow for larger call volume in that area. The Verizon network teams protect their processing rooms from dangers like fire, tornadoes and other potential disasters. For example, some switch centers, like the one you see in the virtual tour, are surrounded by hallways that act like moats, protecting the inner sanctum. High ceilings also allow heat to rise more quickly to prevent fires.

The facilities are routinely checked by local fire departments for precautionary measures and colored labels line the floor to direct first responders to the appropriate circuit breakers. This arrangement is designed to keep part of the network up and running in the case that a fire occurs in another area of the building. In the battery rooms, rows of batteries run the network through a commercial grid. On a frequent basis, their voltage is tested to ensure they are working properly and efficiently. During a power outage, the batteries can hold the network until Verizon’s generators kick on.

Each cell tower also has its own generator. Therefore, consumers should never notice a disruption in service. This reliability gives our network a competitive advantage in an increasingly connected world. So, next time you’re stuck in a storm, or try to make a phone call in a time of need, think of all the people, elements and Internet of things working together to make and keep your signal strong. You might be as amazed by the power of the Verizon network as we are.