TAMPA, FL — As Floridians enter the peak months of the 2008 hurricane season, Verizon Wireless has its statewide digital network tuned and ready to deliver the most reliable wireless coverage and service in case of severe storms and every day.
The company has made extensive investments and efforts to prepare its network for emergencies and provide the most reliable ongoing wireless service for Floridians. In the last 18 months alone, the company has spent more than $250 million in Florida to strengthen and enhance its wireless network.
Highlights of these long-term enhancements include expanding and enhancing regional switching facilities, erecting new digital cell sites with on-site back-up power, expanding statewide the company’s (EV-DO) highest-speed (Revision A) network technology, and completing a Disaster Response Trailer (DRT) mobile customer service unit.
In addition, teams of Verizon Wireless “test men” have been rolling across the state in a fleet of specialized test vehicles to fine tune the network and ensure reliable, comprehensive coverage in preparation for this storm season, as they do throughout the year.
“Now is the most critical time to stay primed and focused,” said Pam Tope, Florida region president of Verizon Wireless. “Of course we hope for another quiet hurricane season, but we’re prepared to again serve the state’s residents, businesses and visitors and provide the strongest wireless service if any storm activity heats up.”
While the early part of this year’s hurricane season has been quiet, these kinds of intensive investments and preparations proved critical during the height of extraordinary storm seasons in the late summer and early autumn of 2004 and 2005. In those years, the Verizon Wireless network in Florida remained strong, while many other wireless communication networks struggled to serve residents and emergency response officials.
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 Florida in the case of a storm or other crisis.
- A $20 million enhancement to its Tampa Bay switching facility, which doubled its traffic capacity and back-up power redundancies. The facility is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and will serve as one of the region’s emergency operations centers in the event of a storm or other disaster.
- A new 35-foot $150,000 Disaster Response Trailer to be used as temporary customer service location in areas impacted by a disaster.
- Erecting nearly 150 new cell sites since the start of last year, of which about 85 percent have their own on-site generators.
- The company also has 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.
- The company has expanded its EV-DO wireless broadband network, including launching its highest-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 reliable for usage by residents and emergency agencies.
These new technologies, facilities and other network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment nearing $1.8 billion 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.
(Editor’s Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man, tour a network facility or obtain broadcast-quality video B-roll and still images of network operations/emergency preparations, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-404-6029).
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 68.7 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 70,000 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.