Emergencies happen everyday. Sometimes these types of events can just happen with no warning, and sometimes it can be predicted, such as natural disasters and weather-related events where there might be signs of it approaching, like hurricanes and typhoons.
While predicting where and when exactly these types of events will hit can be difficult, it never hurts to be prepared. This is because when it does happen, being prepared could reduce the amount of casualties, damage, and also disruption in services like electricity, running water, access to food and shelter, and of course, communications.
Verizon definitely recognizes that keeping open lines of communication is important, especially with hurricane season approaching, and here’s what the company is doing as part of their preparations over in the state of Florida.
Deploying a fleet of mobile cell sites
When a natural disaster or weather-related event hits, like we said, it’s hard to predict how much damage will be done and which areas are affected. Since cell phone towers are built into the ground, sometimes they can be in the path of a hurricane which means that they can get damaged and disrupt communications.
To address the potential disruption of their services, Verizon has a fleet of mobile cell sites that are ready to go in an emergency. This fleet will not only provide temporary network access to affected areas, but they will also consist of assets that will help Verizon’s engineers restore parts of their network that might have been damaged during the storm and resume services for residents in the affected areas.
The fleet will also have their own standalone power and backhaul connections so that they can continue to remain mobile while providing critical network coverage that might be needed by first responders and the community.
Some of the larger assets in the fleet consists of a tactical/mobile command trailer, an International 4300 Truck to help transport communications and Hamzat equipment, Verizon’s own Big Red rig that offers 24 internet-connected workstations, and also a store on wheels that will sell devices and equipment along with providing technical support.
Verizon’s mobile cell sites also feature things like Satellite Pico-cell on Trailer solutions that can deploy eFemtos and/or WiFi to EOCs and first responders, satellite equipment, ad also Verizon’s own High Altitude Wireless Kennewhats, which are essentially tethered drones that can fly about and provide 4G coverage to areas that their trucks cannot get to, which they actually used during Hurricane Ian.
Prioritizing first responders
Obviously staying in touch with friends and loved ones during an emergency is important, but it is just as important that first responders are able to communicate with each other. These are the people who will render first aid, search for people who might have gone missing, and more.
So for them to remain in communication so that they can synchronize their actions is vital. As part of Verizon’s preparations for hurricane season, the company will deploy their Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team to ensure that first responders and frontliners have the communications they need to help the community.
This team will consist of experienced groups and individuals, composed of former first responders and even military personnel, people who might have had prior experience and training when it comes to dealing with emergencies and crises. They will also assist in helping to set up portable cell sites, WiFi hotspots, free charging stations, and more.
Verizon will also have engineers ready to prioritize recovery efforts after a storm, where they will first restore basic voice communication services for first responders to help them in their work in search and rescue missions, followed by the restoration of services for public safety and Emergency Operations Centers.
Staying ahead of the problem
Being able to respond swiftly in an emergency is important, but it is also just as important to learn about it so that in the future if another heavier-than-expected storm passes through, Verizon will be ready.
To that end, Verizon has actually made several upgrades and improvements to its network so that it can better withstand such emergencies if they happen. For example, in some parts of the US like North Dakota with frigid winters, Verizon has designed its network and stations to be able to withstand snow and ice, while places like California where earthquakes can take place, the switch locations in the state have walls built from steel frames and diagonal bracing so that it can hold up better.
In Florida, where hurricanes are known to pass through, Verizon has created what they call “Super Switches”, which are hardened switches that have been designed to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds. The switch locations will also feature things like a tilt wall block construction made out of concrete and rebar, and also offer multiple entrances for transport in case of damage to the terrain.
The switch locations also come with their own dual on-site generators and HVAC N+1 redundancies in the event that the power is knocked out. It can also pull double duty and act as an Emergency Operation center.
Also, as part of the carrier’s efforts to improve its services and reliability, just in May, Verizon announced the completion of a redesign of its network in Tampa, Florida. Customers living in the area can now expect access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service along with expanded coverage around East Lake, Temple Terrace, MacDill, Ybor City, Downtown Tampa, throughout the Town and Country area, Hyde Park, Tampa Heights, the Gray Gables area, the South Seminole Heights area, Busch Gardens, Adventure Island and the University Mall area.
They’ve also made sure to increase the capacity of fiber connections in their cell sites in Tampa, which can now carry 10 times the amount of data.
So if you do stay in Florida, rest assured that Verizon seems to be doing everything they can to maintain communications in the event of a hurricane. From deploying engineers and teams of experienced personnel, to fleets of trucks, big and small, that provide mobile cell coverage and equipment, to also upgrading their network to make it more robust, Verizon’s got you covered.
And last but not least, remember to stay safe!