What Makes a Wireless "Super-Switch" Super?

Understanding how mobile networks stay operational in emergencies.

By on September 12, 2013

As coastal regions prepare for the late summer heart of hurricane season, a vast network of wireless facilities and resources stand ready to deliver strong, fast and reliable coverage in emergencies. Some of the most powerful components in this arsenal are what industry insiders call super-switches. But what makes a super-switch “super”?

A super-switch is a mobile telephone switching office (MTSO) that typically handles tens of millions of wireless connections each day – from calls and texts to emails and Internet connections – from an array of customers’ cellphones, tablets, computers and other devices. Connections using technology such as Verizon’s 4G LTE network are consistently fast and reliable thanks to the advanced network on which they connect.

Other features help give the super-switch its special power. A super-switch is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, with low, wide dimensions, hardened shell and double-reinforced exterior walls that are effective against strong winds and blowing debris.

Each facility features large-scale power generation, storage and backup in case local utilities are interrupted. Multiple on-site industrial-scale generators, similar to those that power a cruise ship or small city, pump electricity into large rooms full of batteries. Those batteries store power and provide uninterrupted electricity to help ensure consistent wireless connections. Because of the facilities’ security and advanced capabilities, super-switches also serve as command centers for wireless teams and local emergency officials serving the public in a time of crisis.

Want to know more? Click here for more information on emergency preparedness and network reliability.