BOCA RATON, FL — Verizon Wireless reported today that 23 of its 42 retail stores in South Florida have reopened for business in the wake of Hurricane Wilma, and are providing free local and long-distance calls, battery charging and technical support to those in need of these services. Customers can view a list of open stores online.
"Our retail stores are important to the communities they serve," said Verizon Wireless Florida President Mike Lanman. "Verizon Wireless will continue to work round-the-clock on network improvements and at our stores to provide support to residents in the affected areas."
Verizon Wireless service continues to improve in Naples and Ft. Myers on the southwest coast, the area closest to Wilma's landfall, as well as in Dade, Broward and southern Palm Beach counties where there are continuing widespread power outages. Network teams have targeted those areas and have deployed dozens of portable generators to cell sites with no power; this has restored wireless service to about 35 percent of the affected sites during the last 24 hours alone.
In addition, more than 75 cell sites in south Florida are now being powered by permanent built-in generators; in Florida about 80 percent of all Verizon Wireless cell sites have built-in generators.
Verizon Wireless technicians were deployed throughout South Florida at sunrise Wednesday. They are installing mobile transmission units to boost network capacity in critical areas near hospitals and emergency operations centers where rescue workers are using wireless phones for post-storm communications.
The Verizon Wireless network team also is working with the local landline telephone companies and others to identify connectivity issues that are impacting the Verizon Wireless network. Additional support staff and equipment from surrounding areas are now being brought in to further support the restoration effort.
Verizon Wireless hurricane response and recovery efforts include:
- More than 40 COWs (Cell on Wheels) are staged and some already are being deployed to help increase wireless coverage in the hardest hit areas
- More than 40 electrical generators are in place to provide emergency power to cell sites without permanent generators.
- Verizon Wireless Disaster Recovery teams are coordinating with wireline and power companies to reestablish connectivity to cell phone towers in the area.
- Continuous monitoring of cell sites and switches in the affected areas has been under way via the company's national Network Operations Control Centers located in New Jersey and Texas, assisting recovery teams on the ground in identifying service status and conditions.
- The company also said it would continue service in impacted areas for those customers who have been left homeless and are unable to contact the company regarding pending overdue bill payments that under normal circumstances might lead to service interruptions.
While Verizon Wireless continues to work to restore service in all areas impacted by Hurricane Wilma, the company offers the following tips to those in the affected areas:
- Communicate through TXT Messaging since this service uses less bandwidth than voice calls and has a higher chance of getting through.
- Use wireless phones only when necessary so the network will not be overloaded for emergency workers who are depending on wireless communications in their rescue and restoration operations.
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.