Verizon's Reliable Networks and Trained Teams Ready for 2009 Hurricane Season

NEW YORK - With the 2009 hurricane season about to begin, Verizon's nationwide wireline and wireless networks and the trained teams that operate them are ready to continue serving consumers and businesses customers.

Verizon, which operates some of the most advanced and reliable wireline and wireless networks in the world, reviews and updates its emergency preparedness plans each year to be ready for a wide range of disasters - especially major weather events such as hurricanes.  The company also conducts drills throughout the year to test the readiness of its networks and backup power systems.

"We're constantly evaluating what we can do to better prepare for a major weather event, how to maintain service during the event, and how to quickly effect repairs when and if network damage occurs," said Mike Poling, Verizon senior vice president for network operations.  "We process more than 1 billion calls daily on our landline network, with 99.9 percent network reliability, and our goal is to maintain service for our customers during the most challenging situations."

The 2009 hurricane season officially begins Monday (June 1) and runs through November.

Network Features Backup Power

At the core of Verizon's national network is sophisticated communications equipment that represents the "intelligence" of the network.  Computerized switches in the Verizon central offices and data communications equipment in the company's global network facilities perform functions ranging from routing voice calls between consumers to transferring massive amounts of data between large-business customers.  Each of these network facilities has backup power in the form of batteries and generators that keep the equipment running in the event of a commercial electrical power outage.

"One huge benefit for our landline customers is the ability to keep using their landline phone even during power outages as the result of a weather event," Poling said.  "As long as the customer's telephone line is not down and the customer has a wired -- not cordless -- phone plugged in, the phone will work when power is out to the customer's home or business."

Verizon also monitors traffic on the network round-the-clock, and can often quickly reroute calling and data traffic around problem areas.  As it has done in the past, Verizon also 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 might still be providing dial tone to the home.  FiOS voice customers each get a free battery backup system good for up to eight hours of talk time.  They can also purchase supplementary batteries to keep charged and ready for use in extended outages. 

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 after 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, Government Customers Benefit From Verizon's Readiness

Verizon Business, the Verizon organization that serves large-business and government customers worldwide, is also prepared to respond quickly to major hurricanes or other disasters.  The company maintains a large 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 Diane McCarthy, Verizon senior vice president of network field operations.  "During a disaster, these resources and other assets like our MERIT hazardous materials team and our fleet of disaster recovery vehicles are deployed as needed to any location throughout the United States in support of local network operations requirements."

When a disaster strikes, Verizon Business also provides an Emergency Response Mobile Communications Service (ERMCS) fleet, which quickly restores critical communication services for business and government customers anywhere in North America.  Using specially equipped vehicles, Verizon Business technical experts can reestablish communications for customers during unplanned disruptions resulting from natural or human-caused events.  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.

Joining the company's fleet of emergency vehicles is a new 51-foot mobile command center.  The state-of-the-art command center features the latest and most sophisticated communications equipment, with ample space for company employees, public officials and other emergency responders during events that affect Verizon's communications network in the U.S. (Note: A Verizon Business podcast highlighting the mobile command center is available here.  Photos of the new mobile command center can be downloaded here.)

Verizon Wireless Network Is Ready

During the past year, Verizon Wireless has invested more than $1 billion in eight states where hurricanes have had their most devastating effects.  The company's ongoing investments and preparations proved critical during and after past years' extraordinary storms when the Verizon Wireless network remained strong while many other wireless communications networks struggled.  As a result, emergency response officials and residents were able to make calls, send text messages and harness the company's high-speed wireless data services on the Verizon Wireless network to communicate with emergency officials, support services, businesses, families, friends and co-workers.

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. 

(Note: Information about Verizon Wireless' preparations for the 2009 hurricane season and video footage and images of Verizon Wireless' network preparation in hurricane-prone areas can be found here.)

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 86 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations provide converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  Wireline also includes Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 237,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.