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Floridians Urged To Make Emergency Communications Plans In Preparation For 2008 Hurricane Season


TAMPA, FL — 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, accessible location.
* 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 phone.
* Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
* 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 company-wide preparation.”

The company also urges the following actions once a storm is on the way:

* Limit non-emergency calls to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency agencies and operations.
* Send brief text messages rather than voice calls for the same reasons as above.
* Check weather and news reports available on wireless phones 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 unit.

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 disaster.
* 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 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 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 network.


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