SEATTLE, WA — While recent record 90-mile-per-hour winds knocked out power to more than 1.5 million homes across the Pacific Northwest, Verizon Wireless' network handled call volumes nearly 50 percent higher than normal. Backup batteries and generators kept cell sites humming despite the loss of commercial electric power. The company also provided more than 200 wireless phones to emergency responders to aid in the storm recovery efforts.
"We prepare for emergencies all year long because we know the critical role of communications in public safety. And when disaster strikes we mobilize people and equipment to respond," said Gregg Clausius, Verizon Wireless executive director of network for the Pacific Northwest region. "We worked around the clock to keep our Western Washington network on the air throughout the storm and the clean-up process that followed."
The company's three local switching centers, including the new $55 million, 40,000 square foot, state-of-the art facility in Redmond Ridge, continued to process calls throughout the storm. For the most part, the company's 400 cell sites in Western Washington were also up and running, drawing on batteries and generators for power where commercial power was out. At the height of the power outages, fewer than 15 percent of Verizon Wireless' cell sites were out of service. The network was returned to virtually full strength within 72 hours.
The company has invested more than $400 million to enhance its Washington network over the last five years, and more than $35 billion across the nation in the past seven years, to stay ahead of customer demand.
With winter storms possible in the weeks ahead, the company offers the following emergency wireless communications tips for consumers:
- Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers in your phone
- Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you have to evacuate
- Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations
- Send brief text messages rather than making voice calls for the same reasons
NOTE TO EDITORS: If you are interested in setting up an interview, visiting the switch or taking a ride-along test drive with your local Verizon Wireless test man or woman, please contact Georgia Taylor at 206-940-0385 or Georgia.Taylor@VerizonWireless.com