BOCA RATON, FL — With Hurricane Wilma now moving off the east coast of Florida, Verizon Wireless already has dispatched some teams of network technicians to southwest Florida to further reinforce wireless coverage for residents and emergency agencies there.
An estimated 95 percent of the Verizon Wireless digital network in Florida remained fully operational throughout the Category 3 storm.
In order to assess the storm's impact firsthand, Verizon Wireless technicians were deployed earlier today to Naples and Marco Island, to be followed when safety permits by teams of technicians in Dade (Miami), Broward (Ft. Lauderdale) and Palm Beach counties. Crews now are working to restore any out-of-service sites and to deploy mobile transmission units to boost network capacity in those and other areas where power and other communication networks may have failed.
"Before and after a storm, wireless communication plays an especially important role for public safety and residents here in Florida," said Mike Lanman, Verizon Wireless Florida region president. "Reliability is critical and that is why we invest significant resources to prepare and respond effectively."
Verizon Wireless has invested more than $800 million in its Florida network during the past five years, plus millions more in preparation and response to Hurricane Katrina and other storms in 2005 and 2004. The company invests more than $4 billion nationwide each year - about $1 billion every 90 days - in its advanced voice and data networks.
Preparations for Hurricane Wilma included:
- Fine-tuning the company's digital network across the state to add call capacity in threatened areas before the storm hit. During the 2004 and 2005 storm seasons, call traffic spiked dramatically on the day before landfall, and continued to be heavy on the Verizon Wireless network as other land and other wireless networks failed.
- Strategically positioning fleets of mobile generators and mobile cell sites to be deployed immediately in any hard-hit areas. The company has Cells on Wheels (COWs), which are self-powered transmitters that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity.
- Pre-arranging fuel delivery to the mobile units and generators at permanent cell sites to keep the network operating at full strength even if power is lost for an extended period of time. Nearly 80 percent of the individual transmission sites operated by Verizon Wireless have their own on-site generators. This capability is critical when power goes out and if roads are impassable.
- Having teams of "test men and women" from across the state already prepped and ready to roll in specially-equipped vehicles to test the network in the wake of Wilma.
Editor's Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man or to visit one of the company's Emergency Command Centers in preparation of a storm, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-404-6029.
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.