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C Spire Wireless Ready For 2012 Hurricane Season

Wireless Provider Bolsters Network To Maintain Service In Emergency Conditions

Ridgeland, Miss., (May 29, 2012) – C Spire Wireless, the only U.S. provider that offers consumers a suite of personalized services, is using National Hurricane Preparedness Week to put the finishing touches on efforts to bolster its network and mobilize employees on the eve of the 2012 hurricane season.

The latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast predict s that as many as 15 named tropical storms are expected to form in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month season that officially begins on June 1. Eight of those storms could strengthen into hurricanes with top winds of at least 74 mph and up to three could become major hurricanes with maximum winds of 111 mph or more.

C Spire has prepared its extensive wireless network and workforce for a wide range of potential disasters, including major weather events such as hurricanes. The company routinely reviews and updates its emergency preparedness plans and conducts drills throughout the year to test the readiness of its network, employees and backup systems.

"Our preparations are designed to give customers maximum reliability from their wireless phones at the time of greatest need," said Eric Hollingsworth, vice president of Network Operations for C Spire Wireless. "When disaster strikes, people depend on their wireless phones as a lifeline to the outside world, not just for a day, but for weeks and sometimes even months at a time, depending on the extent of the damage."

Those preparations and network investments proved critical in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, killing 1,500 people and causing $80 billion in damage. With most other carriers' wireless networks destroyed or seriously damaged by the onslaught of Katrina, C Spire played a vital communications role in the days following the storm, carrying over 2.6 million calls a day in hurricane-impacted areas only a few days after the storm hit and logging a 470 percent increase in the number of minutes used by customers of other wireless carriers on its network.

"For many of our customers and others as well, C Spire was the first and only means of communications available during and after Hurricane Katrina," Hollingsworth said. "We want our customers to know that we stand ready to respond to whatever circumstances come their way."

Hollingsworth said the wireless carrier's 1,300-member workforce, along with the company's extensive network resources, will be on "high alert" throughout the 2012 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. C Spire also stands ready to activate its Emergency Response Plan, which guides the deployment of company resources and personnel during a crisis.

Since 2003, C Spire has invested over $1 billion in network infrastructure improvements along with new technologies, facilities and network-strengthening efforts, including:

  • $8 million in equipment and system upgrades along the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help improve wireless communications in the event of another hurricane.
  • $3 million in microwave technology to help circumvent damaged or destroyed landline telecommunications systems and ensure wireless calls can be routed to their eventual destination.
  • $3 million to install more than 200 permanent generators in cell sites so the network and customers are not affected by commercial power outages.
  • $8.1 million to build two super switch facilities in Hattiesburg, Miss. and Mobile, Ala. to further increase capacity for voice and data services throughout south Mississippi, the Gulf Coast and south Alabama. The facilities, designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with winds of up to 200 miles per hour, are equipped with large-scale built-in battery back-up and heavy-duty, diesel-powered generators.
  • $90 million network expansion program designed to pave the way for faster data speeds and more robust services, including significant boosts in network capacity, the addition of new and upgraded cell sites, the installation of thousands of miles of fiber optic cable and hundreds of enhanced backhaul connections.
  • $13 million for continued expansion of the company’s mobile broadband network with activation of 388 new high-speed data sites in the last year in 115 cities and 106 counties so that 8 out of every 10 customers across the company’s service area have access to high-speed data services.
  • $60 million to introduce 4G LTE high-speed mobile broadband services in September in 20 Mississippi markets covering 2,700 square miles, a population of 1.2 million and more than 360 cell sites.
  • Activation of 90 new cell sites this year with on-site generators and expanded fuel tanks to extend power-generating capacity.

“These investments by C Spire will help ensure that essential communications continue for our consumer and business customers even when we experience severe weather and other life-threatening situations,” Hollingsworth said.

The company is coordinating its emergency response preparations with local, state and federal agencies, including the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the office of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

About C Spire Wireless

C Spire Wireless is a diversified wireless communications company passionately committed to helping customers by personalizing wireless services designed just for them. The company is the first wireless provider in the U.S. to personalize customers’ experience by offering apps that fit who they are, services that anticipate their needs, and rewards for using their phone in new ways – all with seamless ease and at amazingly fast speeds. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire Wireless and its products and services, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.