NEW YORK - As the 2007 hurricane season approaches next week, Verizon's nationwide networks and the teams that operate them are ready to continue serving consumers, businesses and wireless customers.
Verizon, which operates some of the most advanced and reliable wireline and wireless networks in the world, each year reviews and updates its emergency preparedness plans to be ready for a wide range of disasters - especially major weather events such as hurricanes. The company also conducts drills to test readiness.
"While we operate our networks at a reliability factor of over 99.9 percent, we're constantly evaluating what we can do to maintain service in the event of a major event, or to quickly effect repairs when and if network damage occurs," said Mike Poling, Verizon senior vice president for national operations support. "Our goal is to maintain service for our customers during the most challenging situations."
Network Features Backup Power
At the core of Verizon's national network are sophisticated central-office switching systems that represent the "intelligence" of the network. These computerized switches perform all the functions provided by the networks, ranging from routing voice calls between consumers to transferring massive amounts of data between large-business customers. Each of these switches has backup power in the form of batteries and backup generators that keep the switch running in the event of a commercial electrical power outage. As a result, as long as the customer's line is not down and he or she has a wired -- not cordless -- phone plugged in, the phone will work when power is out to the customer's home or business.
In addition, Verizon monitors traffic on the network round-the-clock, and can quickly reroute calling and data traffic around problem areas. Also, much of Verizon's national inter-city network contains redundant and diverse routing that can render damage to a particular part of the network transparent to a customer.
"An example of one of the technologies we utilize is a fiber-optic ring, called SONET ring, within a large city or between multiple communities," Poling said. "If part of the ring is severed, calling and data traffic is automatically rerouted through another part of the ring and reaches its destination."
As it has done in the past, Verizon can move additional crews of technicians into hard-hit areas to more quickly restore parts of the network that might be damaged by the high winds, flooding and blowing debris during a hurricane.
Consumers Should Keep Hard-Wired and Verizon Wireless Phones Handy
It is important for consumers to make sure they have a hard-wired telephone handy in their homes. If they usually use a cordless phone, it will probably not work during a power outage, even though Verizon still might be providing dial tone to the home.
Consumers should also keep a list of emergency numbers handy and make emergency plans with their families when they see a hurricane approaching their area. In addition, customers should make sure they have extra batteries and other supplies. Having a charged Verizon Wireless phone is another good backup option - especially if residents cannot stay in their home in the wake of a storm.
Small businesses that use key systems or small PBXs should maintain a regular landline, possibly a fax line, to use for emergency calling in power outages, again via a corded telephone.
Business Customers Benefit From Verizon Readiness
Verizon Business, the Verizon organization that serves large-business and government customers, also makes preparations as major hurricanes approach.
Verizon Business maintains an inventory of disaster recovery assets for immediate deployment to the site of any event that affects the Verizon Business network. These resources, along with resources from key vendors, provide equipment, temporary shelters, generators, critical communication tools and supplies necessary for the restoration and recovery of network elements, transmission systems and customer premises equipment.
"Depending on the situation, some network equipment is deployed in safe pre-staging areas throughout a region," said Jeannie Diefenderfer, vice president of Verizon Business global network operations. "During a disaster, these resources and other assets like our MERIT hazmat team are deployed as needed to any location throughout the United States in support of local network operations requirements."
When a disaster strikes, Verizon Business can also use the resources of its Mobile Communications Command Center fleet, which provides emergency communications and relief personnel for disaster victims and corporate customers. The fleet consists of two 53-foot semi-trailers and a 40-foot executive coach with a 25-foot communications-equipment trailer. Each vehicle has been converted into a state-of-the-art mobile communications facility offering both VoIP and Internet capabilities. The fleet can be deployed to either coast within 24 hours.
All of these teams, resources and assets are maintained by Verizon Business at a level of readiness to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of a disaster. Verizon Business conducts regular training, holds disaster exercises, regularly maintains disaster recovery documentation, and performs preventative maintenance on all recovery assets and support tools.
Verizon Business Offers Business Continuity Services
Verizon Business offers comprehensive consulting services - business impact analyses, network assessments, gap analyses, strategy workshops, asset inventory development and vulnerability assessments. The portfolio also includes a virtual file-sharing service, Resilient Network Attached Storage, which centralizes file management and security and business recovery functions and helps ensure efficient remote access to critical business files. In addition, Verizon Notification Services provides customers with a fully automated and customizable service to help shorten the time it takes to communicate accurate and time-sensitive information to customers, partners, employees and other key stakeholders while maintaining two-way interactivity via a broad range of wireline and wireless communications.
Verizon Wireless Ready
The Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery backup power at all facilities. For additional reliability, generators are installed at all switching facilities and many cell site locations. The company also owns a fleet of portable generators that can be deployed during extended power outages to provide emergency power to those cell sites without permanent generators.
The Verizon Wireless team of test men and women, backed by the company's Network Operations team, test and retest the network's performance and durability year-round. The testing team drives 98 specially equipped vehicles almost 1 million miles every year. The vehicles are equipped with computers that automatically make more than 3 million voice call attempts and more than 16 million data tests a year on Verizon Wireless' network and the networks of other leading carriers.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 60.7 million customers nationwide. Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.