Floridians Urged to Make Emergency Communications Plans in Preparation for 2008 Hurricane Season
May 29, 2008
Reuters--May 28, 2008
TAMPA, Fla.–(Business Wire)–
As the 2008 storm season is set to begin June 1, Floridians are
urged to prepare an emergency communications plan to be ready for
hurricanes and other crises. Verizon Wireless, which makes intensive
preparations to maintain strong network coverage during and after the
storms, offers residents these tips to be safer during hurricanes:
— Keep wireless phone batteries fully charged – in case local
power is lost – well before warnings are issued.
— Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters
available for back-up power.
— Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry,
— Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers – police, fire, and
rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family,
friends and co-workers; etc. – and program them into your
— Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and
— Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you
will be away from your home or have to evacuate.
"We’ve seen that preparation is key in emergency situations, and
we want to help residents communicate and stay safe before, during and
after storms," said Pam Tope, Florida region president for Verizon
Wireless. "We’re confident we will again provide stand-out reliability
with the great work of our test teams, all of our staff and
The company also urges the following actions once a storm is on
— Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and
free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and
— Send brief TXT messages rather than voice calls for the same
reasons as above.
— Check weather and news reports available on wireless phone
applications when power is out.
Verizon Wireless has continued the comprehensive preparations and
large-scale investments that kept its network strong even through the
destructive storms of past years, while other communication networks
often were adversely impacted.
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 (EV-DO) highest-speed (Revision A) digital network and
completing a Disaster Response Trailer (DRT) mobile customer service
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 the 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
temporary customer service location in areas impacted by a
— Erecting during the past year nearly 100 new digital cell
sites, of which about 85 percent have their own on-site
generators and new expanded fuel tanks to extend their
— 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 and other carriers.
— The company also has a fleet of dozens 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 company has expanded its EV-DO wireless broadband network,
including launching its highest-speed Revision 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