TAMPA, FL — Verizon Wireless announced today it is nearing completion of a $250 million enhancement to its Florida digital wireless network in 2005. The investment includes adding and updating transmission sites and other technology to improve call quality, increase coverage areas, and allow a variety of advanced services such as wireless broadband computing, text and video messaging and other applications.
The network investment, which totals more than $1 billion in Florida over the past five years, also is key to maintaining strong coverage during hurricanes and other emergencies across the state.
"Providing customers the best, most reliable network in the business means making these large-scale investments," said Mike Lanman, Verizon Wireless Florida region president. "We've proven that these efforts pay off with strong network performance here in Florida and we'll continue to devote numerous resources here to serve the state."
Florida network upgrade facts for 2005 include:
- Nearly 80 new transmission sites were completed, increasing the Verizon Wireless coverage area to more than 25,000 square miles about 95 percent of the state's inhabitable landmass and to more than 95 percent of the state's population.
- New sites included more than a dozen along the U.S. 19 corridor to serve the "Nature Coast" and link the Tampa Bay area to Tallahassee. Numerous "stealth" sites also were constructed as flagpoles, bell towers and other structures, and a high-tech in-building system was installed in Tampa's Ybor City entertainment district.
- In addition to the new locations, more than 500 existing sites were fully upgraded with state-of-the art components to handle the latest digital wireless technologies, such as EV-DO high-speed wireless broadband services. The Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess (EV-DO) data network is the largest high-speed wireless broadband network in the United States.
- In early 2005, the EV-DO network and BroadbandAccess were launched in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tallahassee, to join the Tampa Bay and South Florida areas. The technology allows high-speed downloads of video, games and music on the Verizon Wireless V CAST service, plus pictures, text and other data onto phones, laptops, PDAs and other devices.
- Teams of technicians the real-life inspiration for the TV "Test Man" and the "Can Your Hear Me Now? Good.®" advertising campaign traveled more than 300,000 miles throughout Florida in 2005 in specially equipped vehicles testing the company's network to ensure reliable coverage in all parts of the state.
- After opening a $25 million network switching facility late in 2004 in Jacksonville, Verizon Wireless began construction in 2005 on a state-of-the-art network switching center in Orlando to better handle calls across Central Florida.
In addition to improving new services and everyday wireless calling coverage, the Verizon Wireless network investment is designed to enhance communities' public safety capabilities, an aspect made clear during the extraordinary hurricane seasons of 2005 and 2004.
Public safety- and network-related statistics include:
- More than 80 percent of Verizon Wireless transmission sites in Florida have their own generators to keep the network operating during power outages.
- During the height of the 2005 hurricane season, Verizon Wireless technicians and relief crews in Florida logged hundreds of thousands of man-hours in preparation, response and recovery efforts.
- Thousands of phones and millions of minutes of airtime were provided free to emergency workers and the public as landline services and other wireless carriers lost coverage during the storms.
- Verizon Wireless drive-tests after each hurricane confirmed the network's superior performance versus other wireless carriers. For example, tests after Hurricane Wilma on October 28 and 29 along Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike in Southeast Florida showed the "call success rate" on the Verizon Wireless network measured about 92 percent, compared to competitors that ranged as low as 36 percent to at best 86 percent. Along major east-west routes in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Verizon Wireless completed about 99 percent of calls, best among all carriers tested.
"A strong, reliable wireless network can play an important role for public safety in large emergencies and every day here in Florida," Lanman said. "Verizon Wireless will continue to heavily invest and work hard to serve residents and visitors across the state."
Test Man Ride-Along ProgramThe specially equipped Verizon Wireless test vehicles simultaneously test seven wireless providers, using a computerized program to generate phonically diverse "conversations" and data transmissions. Members of the media who are interested in setting up a ride-along may contact Chuck Hamby at 813-615-4803 or via email at email@example.com.
About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 49.3 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at 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.####