Verizon readies resources to support customers and emergency responders during 2016 storm season

Howard Waterman
T. 908.559.3680
Year-round investments in network reliability, emergency equipment and crisis drills ensure reliable coverage and communications support in emergency situations
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BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – With the start of hurricane season this week, increased numbers of tornadoes in the heartland, and continued flooding in parts of the central United States, Verizon Wireless has prepared its network and emergency response teams to serve customers in the event of severe weather. Year-round intensive investments and preparations ensure Verizon customers can rely on the nation’s largest 4GLTE network to keep them connected during storm season and throughout the year.

Verizon continues to invest heavily in network enhancements adding both capacity and coverage through additional XLTE network deployments, new small cells, and carrier aggregation. On track this year to invest at a comparable level to its $11.7 billion network investment in 2015, Verizon continues to engineer its network with redundancy and reliability, including battery back-up and generators in cell sites and switch locations, duplication of fiber transportation between sites and central offices, and maintaining the most advanced alert system in the industry. During power outages, cell sites and switch locations will automatically begin running on back-up power (batteries and generators) with prearranged fuel delivery to mobile units and generators designed to keep the network operating at full strength -- so that even if power is lost, customers can count on Verizon to connect.

In addition to increased capacity and built-in reliability, Verizon keeps emergency mobile network assets ready for deployment at locations across the nation to ensure the readiness and availability of those resources should disaster strike. Cells on Wheels (COWS), Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), and generators on trailers (GOaTS) – including new vehicles equipped with XLTE – are prepared in staging areas across the nation for immediate deployment to hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity. Working in conjunction with emergency responders, these mobile assets can be deployed at a moment’s notice to set up forward command stations for police, firefighters and emergency personnel responding to disasters.

Verizon network employees and select personnel from various divisions are prepared for disaster response as well. Participating in emergency drills and simulations throughout the year, Verizon Crisis Response Teams are prepared to deploy to hard-hit areas to ensure wireless devices, charging stations and other support is available when needed.

Ensuring residents of impacted areas can reach loved ones and start personal recovery is of key importance, so Verizon crisis response teams are readying mobile stores and charging stations for deployment, as well as collaborating with local response agencies to ensure the availability of Wireless Emergency Communications Centers (WECCs). These thirty-five foot trailers come equipped with fifty charging ports to enable community members to charge their wireless devices in the case of power outages or residential displacement. Nine sit-down stations are also available and equipped with internet connectivity and cell phones to enable residents of storm-stricken areas to call loved ones and take care of personal business. Two external LCD screens and satellite connections allow these centers to stream weather information and emergency response information to residents.

“During severe weather or an emergency situation, our customers and communities can be confident in our network’s coverage and strength,” said Mike Haberman, Verizon Wireless vice-president, network. “Our advanced network technology continues to deliver on that promise, and as always, we have been readying our behind-the-scenes emergency response plans to keep our customers connected when unexpected emergencies arise.”