JACKSONVILLE, FL — Verizon Wireless has completed a $25 million facility in Jacksonville to improve wireless phone services and expand network capacity for customers throughout North Florida. The high-tech Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO) will serve as the main call- processing hub for all of northern Florida, an area that stretches from the Georgia state line south to Ocala and west from Fernandina Beach to Panama City. The technology at the new switching facility is designed to receive and properly route all wireless calls on the Verizon Wireless digital network in the region.
The new Jacksonville MTSO will immediately handle tens of millions of calls and wireless data downloads each day, with the capacity for handling more call traffic in the future.
"North Florida is an area of phenomenal growth in wireless voice and data usage," said Mike Lanman, Florida region president of Verizon Wireless. "This new state-of-the-art switching center will help us continue to stay ahead of the exploding demand here for wireless communications for area residents and businesses."
Construction began on the 25,000-square foot facility in November 2003; after extensive testing, the MTSO came fully online earlier this month. The MTSO also will serve as the company's emergency operations center for North Florida, home to a fleet of COWs (cell sites on wheels) and COLTs (cell sites on light trucks) for use during and after events like hurricanes.
The new facility is part of a $220 million investment by Verizon Wireless this year in Florida to enhance it digital network. Over the past four years in the state, the company has invested more than $800 million in network upgrades to provide customers with enhanced voice and data technology and services.
One of these services is called BroadbandAccess the fastest commercially available high-speed wide-area network in the nation. The technology was launched in South Florida, Tampa Bay and in the Jacksonville and Orlando international airports areas earlier this fall. BroadbandAcces services will expand through the region and statewide throughout the end of 2004 and into 2005.
"Our large network investment in the state allows us to introduce these new services that once were considered science fiction, and is part of our long-standing strategy to provide our Florida customers with the best wireless network in the business," Lanman said. In addition to improving new services and everyday wireless calling coverage, the Verizon Wireless network investment is designed to enhance public safety. This important aspect was very clear during this year's extraordinary hurricane season.
Current 2004 public safety- and network-related statistics include:
- 85 percent of Verizon Wireless transmission sites in Florida have their own generators to keep the network operating during power outages.
- During the recent streak of hurricanes here, Verizon Wireless technicians logged more than 250,000 man-hours in preparation and response efforts.
- Thousands of phones and millions of minutes of airtime have been provided free to emergency workers and the public as landline services and other wireless carriers lost coverage during the storms.
- During and after each storm, the Verizon Wireless network in Florida remained nearly 90 percent operational, and was back to 100 percent within a few days.
"The importance of building a reliable network was never more clear than this year in Florida," Lanman said. "During and after each hurricane, emergency workers and the public often had to depend on our network alone for important and even lifesaving communication. This is a role that we, as Florida's top performing wireless company, are proud to fill and we plan to continue to make network enhancements to further improve our capabilities."
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the most reliable nationwide 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 www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.