TAMPA, FL — Verizon Wireless announced today it has completed a $220 million investment for 2004 to enhance the company's digital network in Florida by updating transmission sites and other technology to improve call quality, increase coverage areas and allow a variety of advanced services such as wireless broadband computing, text and video messaging and other applications.
With major enhancements scheduled to continue through 2005, Verizon Wireless will have invested more than $1 billion over a five-year period in Florida network upgrades alone.
"This is another huge investment, but we're not letting up in our mission to keep delivering the most reliable wireless network in the state," said Mike Lanman, Florida region president. "Florida is an especially important market due to its rapid growth, tech-savvy businesses and demand for the latest wireless technology, and we're working hard and investing a lot to bring the best of it all here."
Network upgrade highlights for 2004 and scheduled for 2005 include:
- About 115 new transmission sites were added across the state in 2004, increasing the coverage area to nearly 25,000 square miles 95 percent of the state's inhabitable landmass and to more than 95 percent of the state's population. Additional transmission sites are scheduled to be built at a similar pace in 2005.
- New site highlights in 2004 included the Walt Disney World area, numerous college campuses and full coverage across Alligator Alley. In 2005, special focus will include adding coverage in Southwest Florida, along key corridors from the Tampa Bay area to Tallahassee, and across the Panhandle.
- Verizon Wireless upgraded transmission sites in South Florida, the Tampa Bay area, and at Jacksonville and Orlando international airports in 2004 for the launch of BroadbandAccess, the fastest commercially available high-speed wide-area network in the nation. The wireless broadband service will launch in additional Florida markets in 2005.
- A new $25 million switching facility was completed in late 2004 in Jacksonville to better receive and route all Verizon Wireless calls across North Florida. In 2005, construction will begin on new network switching facilities in Orlando and Fort Myers.
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:
- More than 80 percent of Verizon Wireless transmission sites in Florida have their own generators to keep the network operating during power outages.
- During the height of the hurricane season, Verizon Wireless technicians and relief crews logged nearly 300,000 man-hours in preparation, response and recovery 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 and benefit of building the state's most reliable network was very clear this year in Florida," Lanman said. "With each hurricane, emergency workers and the public often had to depend on our network alone for potentially lifesaving communication. This is a role that we are proud to fill and we will continue to build up our network to meet these important expectations."
Test Man Ride-Along Program
The specially equipped Verizon Wireless test vehicles simultaneously test seven 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 Chuck Hamby at 813-615-4803 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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.