Floridians Rely On Wireless Phones In Emergencies

BOCA RATON, FL — During hurricane season, wireless phones play an especially important public safety role for residents, businesses and emergency workers. To ensure reliable comprehensive coverage everyday, and particularly during emergencies, Verizon Wireless has rolled its team of Test Men and Test Women in special vehicles across the state to fine tune its all-digital network.

Media representatives are invited to travel with a test team, visit a wireless switch facility or emergency command center to see how a wireless company ensures wireless phone coverage for customers before, during and after a storm.

Additional highlights of Verizon Wireless 2007 hurricane preparation include:

  • The company has developed and practiced a comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers around Florida in the case of a storm or crisis.

  • More than 80 percent of the individual transmission sites operated by Verizon Wireless in Florida have their own on-site generators. This capability is critical when power goes out and if roads are impassable in the wake of a storm.

  • The company has a fleet of dozens of Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity. Network teams also have more than 200 portable generators ready to go to further strengthen the network.

  • 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.

  • Verizon Wireless is again fully prepared to quickly set up wireless emergency communication centers (WECCs) to serve residents and rescue agencies in the area(s) in the greatest need.

  • The company has expanded its EV-DO wireless broadband network, including launching its highest-speed Rev. A network across the state. This allows the most advanced wireless services (downloads, location-based applications, video messaging, etc.) and makes the network more robust for usage by residents and emergency agencies, especially during crises. Rev A. technology features typical download speeds of 600 kilobits per second (kbps) and average upload speeds of 500-800 kbps.

  • The recent acquisition of a $150,000 disaster response trailer that can be used as a temporary customer service location in areas impacted by a disaster. The 35-foot long trailer, which features an air-conditioned canopy area, also provides access to phones, accessories and EV-DO services for residents.

The new technologies, facilities and other network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment exceeding $1.5 billion in the state over the past seven years. Nationally, Verizon Wireless has invested $37 billion in the last seven years -- $5 billion on average every year since the company was formed -- to increase the coverage and capacity of its national network and to add new services.

Editors: Video footage of Verizon Wireless' network preparations is available in the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.  

Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man, visit one of the company's Emergency Command Centers or other technology/facility, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-615-4803.

About Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 60.7 million customers. The largest US wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 66,000 employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at 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.