HOUSTON, TX — In the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, Verizon Wireless crews continue to make significant progress restoring service to the hardest hit areas of the Texas Gulf Coast and Southwestern Louisiana.
Wireless service to Galveston has been completely restored and only a handful of cell sites in the Houston area remain out of service. Considerable progress has been made in restoring service to the Lufkin and Jasper, TX areas. In the Beaumont and Lake Charles areas the network remains heavily impacted with service largely restored to the city centers and along major highways.
"The preparation and planning that we put in place prior to the storm is paying off as we deploy recovery crews and equipment to the areas impacted by Hurricane Rita," said Katherine Greene, Verizon Wireless Houston/Gulf Coast region president. "Thanks to our advanced planning our recovery crews have the generators, fuel, and spare parts that they need to quickly restore service in areas impacted by the storm."
Verizon Wireless technicians in Texas and Louisiana are actively working to restore service to impacted sites and to restore network capacity in areas where residents and rescue workers must rely on wireless communications in the hurricane's wake. More than 85 percent of Verizon Wireless cell sites in the Texas and Louisiana coastal areas have their own back-up generators and extended battery back-up to operate during power outages.
Special Services to Wireless Users
Verizon Wireless stores in Houston and surrounding areas are open and providing services to customers impacted by the storm. Special services being provided at stores include phone charging and phone troubleshooting, free local and long distance calls and customer service support. Stores are stocked up on car chargers and extra batteries to meet the needs of customers who continue to be without power.
Status of Verizon Wireless Stores
Stores in Houston and in the surrounding areas are open with the exception of the store in Liberty, TX. Stores in the Beaumont and Lake Charles area remain closed.
Wireless Emergency Communications Center Established in Beaumont
Verizon Wireless has deployed a Wireless Emergency Communications Center (WECC) to the Ford Pavilion in the Beaumont area to provide area residents impacted by the storm with emergency communications services. Residents are able to place free local and long distance calls, send TXT Messages and charge their phones at the WECC.
About Verizon Wireless Emergency Planning
Throughout the year, Verizon Wireless prepares comprehensive disaster recovery plans to test emergency generators and back-up batteries to keep the network online in the event of a power outage.
In the Gulf Coast area alone, more than 85 percent of the individual transmission sites operated by Verizon Wireless have their own on-site generators. This capability is critical if roads are impassable in the wake of a storm.
The company also has a mobile fleet of Cell on Wheels (COWs) and Cell on Light Trucks (COLTs), which are mobile cell sites that can be rolled into hard hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity. The company's fleet of portable generators are kept fueled and placed on standby in areas prone to sudden natural disasters, and fuel supplies are secured in advance of storms to assist in keeping generators running. The company invests more than $4 billion annually to expand and upgrade its network.
(EDITORS NOTE: Video footage with helpful tips for consumers to prepare for hurricanes and other severe weather is available in the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.)
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 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.