TAMPA, FL — With Tropical Storm Fay threatening both the east and west coasts of Florida and the Florida Keys, Verizon Wireless urges residents to have their emergency communications plans in place. The company offers the following tips:
- Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged – in case local power is lost – well before warnings are issued.
- Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
- Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
- Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers – police, fire, and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your phone.
- Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home or have to evacuate.
Forecasters predict Fay could grow into a hurricane and expect the storm to reach the Florida Keys by Monday night. Once the storm begins to hit, Verizon Wireless urges these additional tips:
- Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
- Send brief TXT messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.
- Check weather and news reports available on wireless phone applications when commercial power is out.
“It’s clear that Fay will have some impact on Florida, but preparation and communication will help lessen any problems the storm throws at us,” said Pam Tope, Florida region president for Verizon Wireless. “We prepare our network all year long to be ready for storms and other emergencies.”
During the past 18 months, Verizon Wireless has spent more than $250 million in Florida to strengthen and enhance its wireless network. Highlights of these enhancements include:
- A comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers across Florida in the case of a storm or other crisis.
- A $20 million enhancement to its Tampa Bay switching facility, which doubled its traffic capacity and back-up power redundancies. The facility is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and will serve as the region’s emergency operations center in the event of a storm or other disaster.
- A new 35-foot $150,000 Disaster Response Trailer to be used as temporary customer service location in areas impacted by a disaster.
- Erecting about 150 new digital cell sites since the start of last year, of which about 85 percent have their own on-site generators.
- The company also has a fleet of dozens of Cells on Wheels (COWS) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), and generators on trailers (GOaTS) that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity.
- 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.
- The company has expanded its EV-DO wireless broadband network, including launching its highest-speed Rev. A network throughout 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.
These kinds of intensive investments and preparations proved critical during the height of extraordinary storm seasons in the late summer and early autumn of 2004 and 2005. In those years, the Verizon Wireless network in Florida remained strong, while many other wireless communication networks struggled to serve residents and emergency response officials.
(Editor’s Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man, tour a network facility or obtain broadcast-quality video B-roll and still images of network operations/emergency preparations, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-404-6029).
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 68.7 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 70,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, go to: www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.