IRVINE, CA — As multiple fires threaten communities throughout Southern California, Verizon Wireless’ network is delivering reliable wireless coverage and service to keep emergency responders and customers connected. During peak hours of usage in the areas directly affected by the wildfires, traffic on the Verizon Wireless network was up 75 percent over a typical day. All cell sites in the affected areas have continued to process calls and data transmissions during the crisis. Generators from the company’s emergency fleet are providing power where commercial power is still out.
Support for emergency responders
Verizon Wireless has donated equipment and service to 19 government agencies, including fire departments and forestry services. To date, the company has donated:
- More than 90 cell phones to make free phone calls to help battle fires and to keep in touch with family members and 20 BroadbandAccess wireless cards to provide free Internet access
- One repeater at the Orange County Fire Authority Command Center at Irvine Park
Support for relief efforts
To assist evacuees, Verizon Wireless volunteers have staffed communication booths at Red Cross relief centers. Employee volunteer teams are shifted as shelters close and others open. Resources for the booths include a total of:
- More than 100 cell phones to make free phone calls
- 35 BroadbandAccess wireless cards to access the Internet for free
Verizon Wireless has made extensive investments and efforts to prepare its network for emergencies and provide the most reliable ongoing wireless service for residents and businesses. Last year, the company invested more than $650 million throughout California to strengthen and enhance its wireless network. The company invested more than $360 million during the first half of 2008. Highlights of Verizon Wireless’ 2008 emergency preparation and network enhancements include:
- The company has a fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs), and Generators on Trailers (GOaTs) that can be deployed to fire command centers or areas that need extra network capacity.
- Verizon Wireless has made arrangements for 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 Rev. A wireless broadband network throughout the region. This allows the most advanced wireless services (downloads, location-based applications, video messaging, etc.) and makes the network more reliable for usage by residents and emergency agencies.
- Verizon Wireless added an additional switch in southern California to manage hundreds of the company’s cell sites to direct and manage traffic flow on the network.
- Verizon Wireless has invested more than $48 billion in the past eight years to enhance its digital wireless network across the nation.
Tips for customers
To help wireless customers stay connected during an emergency, Verizon Wireless offers the following tips:
- Save emergency phone numbers in your cell phone with one-touch dialing.
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you have to evacuate.
- Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
- Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
- Send brief text messages rather than making voice calls for the same reasons.
- Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
- Keep phones, laptops, PDAs, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, accessible location.
- There’s no need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot with BroadbandAccess -- Verizon Wireless’ high-speed wireless broadband service gives users mobile access to e-mail and the Internet at broadband speeds.
(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 Ken Muche at 949-286-8193).
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 70.8 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 footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.