Verizon Wireless Completes $104.5 Million Enhancement To Great Plains Network In 2004

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Verizon Wireless announced today it has completed a $104.5 million investment for 2004 to enhance the company's digital network in the five-state Great Plains Region by updating cell sites and technology to improve call quality and increase coverage areas, and allow a variety of advanced services such as text and picture messaging. Headquartered in Plymouth, Minn., the region includes Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

"As this large investment makes clear, we're not letting up in our mission to keep delivering the most reliable wireless network in this area," said Nancy B. Clark, president—Great Plains Region, Verizon Wireless. "The unique characteristics of this market, both rural and metropolitan, demand that we understand our customers' needs and provide the best technology and wireless services available."

Network Investment

Network upgrade highlights for 2004 include:

  • The activation of 56 new cell sites throughout the region.

  • The completion of nearly 600 projects that enhance the capabilities of existing cell sites and improve coverage, add capacity and/or upgrade equipment.

  • The opening of a new state-of-the-art $20 million Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO) in Sioux Falls, S.D., that enables Verizon Wireless to stay ahead of the growing demand for products and services in the state and provide a superior level of network reliability and redundancy. The MTSO processes all wireless calls in South Dakota and northwestern Iowa.

  • An $11.5 million investment in 2003 and 2004 to update the MTSO in Fargo, N.D., that doubled the facility size to accommodate growing customer demand and added new equipment to ensure operations in the event of an emergency or other interruption of commercial power to the facility. This MTSO processes all wireless calls in eastern North Dakota, Moorhead, Minn., and northeastern Minnesota.

  • Completion of our NationalAccess high-speed data network in western North Dakota, enabling customers to use Picture Messaging and access the Internet wirelessly with average speeds of 60—80 kilobits per second.

In addition to improving new services and everyday wireless calling coverage, the Verizon Wireless network investment is designed to enhance public safety. Current Verizon Wireless 2004 statistics related to public safety and the network include the following:

  • The addition of generators at 99 cell sites to provide emergency power after eight hours worth of battery backup power is used at each location. Cell sites without generators maintain hookups for use with the company's fleet of portable generators.

  • New portable cell sites, or Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), were added in each state to provide temporary network facilities and call capacity in the event of natural disasters or unplanned interruptions of voice and data service.

"Our network is built for reliability," Clark said. "In Fargo, for instance, a permanent dike system was built into our MTSO location to prevent overland flooding from damaging our equipment. Our cell sites are built specifically to withstand the high winds and ice common to our markets, and we upgrade our backup systems throughout the region each year."

Test Man Ride-Along ProgramThe specially equipped Verizon Wireless test vehicles simultaneously test six wireless providers, using a computerized program to generate phonically diverse "conversations" as well as 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, contact Karen Smith at 763-595-2511 or via email at  

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 42.1 million voice and data 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 preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at