Real-Life "Test Men" Tune Up Panama City, Florida, Network In Preparation for Spring Break Crowds

PANAMA CITY, FL — To provide the best wireless service for local residents and the millions of "spring breakers" who will visit Panama City in March and April, Verizon Wireless has added capacity to critical cell sites and dispatched real-life "test men" to fine-tune its network here. Nearly 50 cell sites work together to provide all-digital coverage within Panama City proper and on the beaches, including major roadways into the Emerald Coast area.

During Spring Break 2003, Verizon Wireless was converting an older technology -- used by the Cellular One properties purchased by Verizon Wireless in early 2003 -- to its advanced CDMA all-digital network in Panama City. That "hybrid" network saw a tremendous amount of usage, with more than 1.5 million calls processed in March alone.

To prepare this year, Verizon Wireless has invested about $11 million to fully convert the Panama City network to its all-digital standard and increase the number of calls its network can handle here. In 2003, Verizon Wireless invested more than $180 million in Florida to further expand and enhance its all-digital network — bringing the company's network investment in the state to nearly $600 million over the past three years alone. Network teams began in January to work to significantly increase capacity at critical cell sites near Club Lavela and on Mexico Beach. The Club Lavela site saw the most call traffic during Spring Break last year, processing more than 70,000 calls on its busiest days.

The company's network testing and enhancements are performed by real-life test men and test women who inspired the company's national "Can you hear me now?" advertising campaign. They conduct more than 300,000 calls monthly on the Verizon Wireless network and other national wireless carriers' networks while traveling over 100,000 miles across Florida — including Bay County -- in specially-equipped, company-owned quality test vehicles. *

"We constantly invest in our network to meet the growing needs of local businesses and residents for their voice calls and data applications, like our high-speed NationalAccess and picture messaging service," said Mike Lanman, Florida region president of Verizon Wireless. "Now, we can better handle the increased demand for Panama City's residents and visitors."

The Panama City enhancements are part of the company's aggressive multi-billion dollar network investment in Florida, designed to stay ahead of the growing demand here for wireless voice and data services. Over the last three years, Verizon Wireless has invested about a billion dollars every 90 days -- more than $12 billion -- in its nationwide network, offering customers access to the most extensive wireless voice and data network in the United States.

NationalAccess is one of the company's nationwide high-speed wireless data networks, providing fast wireless Internet service with bursts up to 144 kilobits per second (kbps). NationalAccess gives users full Internet access, intranet access and traditional email functionality via a laptop at unprecedented speeds for wireless access. Users can expect average speeds between 40 and 60 kbps, significantly higher than speeds being produced by competing technologies and comparable to, if not faster, than what PC users get when using a dial-up Internet service.

The newest high-speed data service from Verizon Wireless is BroadbandAccess, which provides average transfer speeds of 300-500 kbps. Verizon Wireless plans to roll out BroadbandAccess in key Florida markets in 2004, and throughout the rest of the state in 2005.

* 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." If you 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, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-615-4803 or via email at  

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 37.5 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto