TAMPA, FL — As the 2009 Tropical Hurricane Season heats up with three named storms developing this week, Verizon Wireless operations are well prepared and ready to serve Florida customers with the nation’s largest and most reliable wireless network.
Tropical Storm Claudette already sent heavy rain and high winds across the Florida Panhandle, an area where many former Alltel customers now enjoy the benefit of the stronger, larger Verizon Wireless network. Verizon Wireless acquired Alltel earlier this year and is upgrading and reconfiguring more than 700 of the former carrier’s cell sites and several large switching facilities in Florida to work as part of the more advanced Verizon Wireless network.
Hurricane Bill and Tropical Depression Ana continue to develop in the Atlantic Ocean and could threaten parts of Florida later this week. However, Verizon Wireless has invested more than $200 million in network enhancements across the state since 2008 to ensure that Floridians have comprehensive, reliable wireless coverage in severe weather and every day.
Highlights of these enhancements include expanding capacity in the company’s regional switching facilities throughout Florida, erecting new digital cell sites with on-site back-up power, and deploying a team of “test men and women” across the state in high-tech vehicles to fine tune the company’s all-digital network.
These intensive investments and preparations proved critical during and after past years’ extraordinary storm seasons. In the aftermath of even the most devastating hurricanes, the Verizon Wireless network in Florida remained strong while many other wireless communication networks struggled to serve emergency response officials and residents reaching out to insurance providers, family, friends and co-workers.
Further details of the Verizon Wireless hurricane season preparation and network enhancements include:
- A comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers across Florida in the case of a storm or other crisis.
- Verizon Wireless network technicians, who serve as the inspiration for the famous TV Test Man commercials, traveled more than 48,000 miles across the state this past year in six vehicles (each valued at $250,000, equipped with phones, wireless data devices and computers) to measure the quality of voice and data calls on Verizon Wireless and other carriers.
- The company has a fleet of dozens of Cells on Wheels (COWs), 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.
- Erecting during the past year more than 90 new digital cell sites, of which more than 70 percent have their own on-site generators and new expanded fuel tanks to extend their power-generating capacity.
- The completion of the Verizon Wireless 3G high-speed wireless network throughout the state, allowing customers to access advanced wireless services more reliably and at even faster broadband speeds.
- Updating and optimizing technology at regional network switching facilities, as well as nearing completion of a high-tech $50 million switching facility in Broward County. The new “super switch,” which will be completed early next year, will reinforce wireless network capacity and help enhance services for customers throughout South Florida. All the company’s super switches, also located in Jacksonville, Orlando and the Tampa Bay area, are designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and are equipped with large-scale back-up power generation.
These new technologies, facilities and network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment of $2 billion in Florida since the company was formed in 2000.
(Editor’s Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man or Woman, tour a network emergency command center, or obtain broadcast-quality video B-Roll and still images of emergency preparations, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-404-6029 or Ed Gilhuly at 305-807-6906.)
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and data network, serving 87.7 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with more than 87,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, visit 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.