News Release

Verizon Wireless, Largest Wireless Carrier in Southern California and Nation, Has Fire Strike Crews on Standby

Program Designed to Meet Fire Fighters at Their Base Camps and Set Up Temporary Cell Sites, Boost Signals, Give Fire Fighters on Frontline Means to Communicate

October 26, 2003

Keith Karpe
Keith.Karpe@VerizonWireless.com  
949-286-8194

IRVINE, CA — Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless services provider in Southern California, today reported that its mobile telephone network, the largest in California and the nation, has not experienced any problems, delays or dropped calls due to the swath of brush fires raging through the heart of its Southern California Region.

Teams of experienced wireless telecommunications engineers and support personnel, backed by eight heavy-duty vans loaded with technical equipment known as COWS, or "cells on wheels," were on standby to perform a number of functions to support firefighters. Through highly sensitive GPS positioning equipment, engineers can set up a temporary cell near a base camp, boost signals miles beyond normal capacity, and allow firefighters provided with Verizon Wireless handsets to speak with and hear orders from their commanders.

However, Verizon Wireless also cautions those in the affected areas to limit wireless calls to preserve battery life, keep on hand an extra rapid travel charger designed for AC outlets, and a automobile cigarette lighter charger for use in consumers' vehicles.

Over the past few years, Verizon Wireless, as the largest wireless company in the U.S., has been asked to assist in other natural disasters. This led to the company's commitment to train some of its engineers and support personnel for the events unfolding over the past three days in Southern California.

Throughout the past 72 hours of fires, which have grown fiercer each day as Santa Ana Winds have strengthened, Daniel Jaurigue, executive director --Network Operations for the company's Southern California Region, and his Irvine, California-based team, have been monitoring the progress of the fires and working out strategies on how best to deliver their services when called upon. The team is on around-the-clock status. It last assisted in the Coyote Canyon Fire in Riverside County about 60 days ago.

"It's a testament to the billions of dollars we've spent to upgrade our network in Southern California, by far the company's largest single and most geographically challenging region, that we are not experiencing dropped calls today or any other problems during what looks like the end-of-the world is at hand," he said. "It's not if the firefighters need us, but when, and we will be on scene within a few minutes or a few hours, depending on their location and where our strategically parked COWS are."

Other equipment Verizon Wireless has and can utilize during such conflagrations are wireless satellite phones, computer mapping, and satellite feeds to direct its signals to the most available and efficient wireless communications platform.

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 34.6 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE:VOD) and (LSE:VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com.  

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