TAMPA, FL — Verizon Wireless, builder and operator of the nation's most reliable wireless network, has completed wide-ranging preparations for the 2008 Hurricane Season to ensure Floridians have strong, comprehensive wireless coverage and service in case of severe weather and every day.
In the 12 months since the start of the 2007 Hurricane Season, the company has spent more than $150 million in Florida to strengthen and enhance its wireless network. Highlights of these enhancements include expanding and enhancing regional switching facilities, erecting new digital cell sites with on-site back-up power, expanding statewide the company's high-speed Evolution- Data Optimized (EV-DO) Revision A (Rev. A) digital network and completing a Disaster Response Trailer (DRT) mobile customer service unit.
In addition, the Verizon Wireless team of "test men" has been rolling across the state in a new fleet of test vehicles to fine tune its all-digital network and ensure reliable, comprehensive coverage in special preparation for the upcoming storm season as well as throughout the year.
While Florida has been spared the last couple of hurricane seasons, these kinds of intensive investments and preparations proved critical in the extraordinary storm seasons of 2004 and 2005. In those years, the Verizon Wireless network in Florida remained strong, while many other wireless communication networks struggled to serve residents and emergency response officials.
"We're not going to let our guard down because wireless communication is so important during emergencies," said Pam Tope, Florida region president of Verizon Wireless. "We're going to continue to heavily invest, thoroughly prepare and tirelessly work to provide Floridians with the most reliable wireless service in an emergency and each time they use their phones."
Additional highlights of the Verizon Wireless 2008 Hurricane Season preparation and network enhancement include:
- A comprehensive emergency response plan, including preparing emergency command centers across Florida in case of a storm or other crisis.
- A $20 million enhancement to its Tampa Bay switching facility, which doubled its traffic capacity and back-up power redundancies. The facility is designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and will serve as the region's emergency operations center in the event of a storm or other disaster.
- A new 35-foot $150,000 Disaster Response Trailer to be used as a temporary customer service location in areas impacted by a disaster.
- Nearly 100 new digital cell sites erected during the past year, of which about 85 percent have their own on-site generators and new expanded fuel tanks to extend their power-generating capacity.
- Verizon Wireless network technicians (who serve as the inspiration for the famous TV Test Man) have traveled more than 150,000 miles across the state this past year in six vehicles ($250,000 each) equipped with phones, wireless data devices and computers to measure the quality of voice and data calls on Verizon Wireless' network and the networks of other carriers.
- A fleet of Cells on Wheels (COWs) and 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.
- The expansion of its EV-DO wireless broadband network, including launching its high-speed Rev. A network throughout the state. This allows the most advanced wireless services (downloads, location-based applications, video messaging, etc.) and makes the network more robust for usage by residents and emergency agencies.
These new technologies, facilities and other network-strengthening efforts are part of an investment exceeding $1.7 billion in the state over the past eight years. Nationally, in that time period, Verizon Wireless has spent about $45 billion to enhance its digital wireless network.
(Editor's Note: To accompany a Verizon Wireless Test Man, tour a network facility or obtain broadcast-quality video B-Roll and still images of network operations/emergency preparations, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-404-6029).
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 67.2 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 69,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). For more information, go to: 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.