GREENVILLE, SC — While South Carolina has been spared a direct hit during the last few hurricane seasons, Verizon Wireless announced today the company has completed extensive preparations for the 2008 Hurricane Season to ensure South Carolinians have strong, comprehensive wireless coverage and service this hurricane season.
Verizon Wireless, builder and operator of the nation's most reliable wireless network, has spent more than $139 million across the Palmetto State to strengthen and enhance its wireless network. Highlights of these enhancements include expanding and enhancing regional switching facilities, erecting new digital cell sites with on-site back-up power, expanding statewide the company's Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) high-speed Revision A (Rev. A) digital network, and completing a Disaster Response Trailer (DRT) mobile customer service unit.
In addition, the Verizon Wireless team of Test Men and Women has been rolling across the state in its fleet of test vehicles to fine tune its all-digital network and ensure reliable, comprehensive coverage in special preparation for the upcoming storm season, as well as throughout the year.
"We are constantly working to improve our network coverage and reliability because wireless communication plays such a crucial role during emergencies, including those involving severe weather," said Jerry Fountain, Carolinas/Tennessee region president of Verizon Wireless. "We will continue to heavily invest, thoroughly prepare and work to not only provide South Carolinians with the most reliable wireless service in an emergency, but also preventive safety tips that they can follow on a daily basis to prepare for future crises."
Additional highlights of the Verizon Wireless 2008 Hurricane Season preparation and network enhancement include:
- A comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers across the state in the case of a storm or other crisis.
- Erection of nearly 34 new digital cell sites during the past year, of which about 90 percent have their own on-site generators.
- Verizon Wireless network technicians (who serve as the inspiration for the famous TV Test Man) that traveled more than 5,700 miles across the state this past year in their fleet of test vehicles ($250,000 each equipped with phones, wireless data devices and computers to measure the quality of voice and data calls Verizon Wireless' network and the networks of other carriers.)
- A Communications Store on wheels* that is ready to roll at all times. The 35-foot trailer allows Verizon Wireless to maintain retail operations in areas when company stores are not able to open or when retail services are needed in areas where natural disaster strikes, enabling customers to purchase the wireless phones and accessories they need.
- Wireless Emergency Communication Centers* (WECCs) that can be quickly set up to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) in the greatest need following an emergency situation.
- A fleet of dozens of Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), and generators on trailers (GOaTS) that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity.
- Pre-arranging fuel delivery to mobile units and generators to keep the network operating at full strength even if power is lost for an extended period of time.
- Expansion of the company's EV-DO wireless broadband network, including launching its high-speed Rev. A network throughout the state. This allows the most advanced wireless services (downloads, location-based applications, video messaging, etc.) and makes the network more robust for usage by residents and emergency agencies.
These new technologies, facilities and other network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment exceeding $600 million in the state over the past eight years. Nationally, in that time period, Verizon Wireless has spent about $45 billion to enhance its digital wireless network.
Verizon Wireless offers residents along the coast of South Carolina these tips to be safer during hurricanes and other times of crisis:
- Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged in case local power is lost well before warnings are issued.
- Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
- Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
- Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers police, fire and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. and program them into your phone.
- Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home or have to evacuate.
The company also urges the following actions once a storm is on the way:
- Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
- Send brief text messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.
- Check weather and news reports available on many Internet-connected and other wireless phones applications when power is out.
* Broadcast and Print Editors: High resolution stills and broadcast-quality video of Verizon Wireless' network assets, its real-life test men and women, and other disaster preparedness and recovery material are available in the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.
About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 67.2 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 69,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, go to: 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.
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 an interview or ride-along with a local member of the Verizon Wireless team of real-life test men and women, please contact Carly Culbertson at 864-987-2006 or via e-mail at Carolyn.Culbertson@verizonwireless.com.####