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C Spire Prepares for 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season

C Spire Prepares for 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Telecom provider bolsters network to maintain service in the worst conditions

Ridgeland, Miss., (May 16, 2016) – C Spire is using National Hurricane Preparedness Week to put the finishing touches on efforts to bolster its network resources and mobilize employees on the eve of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.

The initial outlook from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters is expected soon, but Colorado State University and The Weather Channel predict as many as 14 named tropical storms could form in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month period that officially begins on June 1. Eight of those storms could strengthen into hurricanes with top winds of at least 74 mph and three could become major hurricanes with maximum winds of 111 mph or more.

While the risk this year is slightly more difficult to predict due to potential lingering effects from a recent El Nino, which causes stronger wind shear and reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s still important for residents and businesses in hurricane-prone areas to prepare for the worst.

C Spire prepares its extensive wireless and wireline networks 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 and employees.

"Our preparations are designed to give customers maximum reliability for all of their communications at the time of greatest need," said Stephen Bye, chief technology officer for C Spire. "When disaster strikes, people depend on telecommunications as a lifeline to the outside world. We are committed to providing our customers with the best network coverage possible in every situation.”

Last year was only the fifth below-normal season in the last 20 years since 1995 when the current high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes began. 11 tropical and subtropical storms formed in the Atlantic basin in 2015, but only four became hurricanes and none made U.S. landfall.

The biggest impact came in October 2015 when the remnants of Hurricane Joaquin dumped 24 inches of rain in South Carolina and caused over $1 billion in damages. Earlier, the Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds sunk the U.S. container ship El Fargo near the Bahamas, drowning all 33 crew members on board.

Bye said the telecom company’s 1,451-member workforce, along with its extensive network resources, will be on "high alert" throughout the 2016 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.

C Spire routinely takes precautionary steps and puts restoration teams on stand by and masses equipment and materials to protect critical network facilities and cell sites. The company uses back up batteries and diesel generators at mobile sites and switching centers and makes arrangements for replacement fuel supplies in case normal fuel delivery options are interrupted by commercial power outages.

The company operates two multi-million dollar, hurricane-ready “super switches” in Mobile, Alabama and in Hattiesburg, Mississippi that provide added protection and service assurance for customers in south Mississippi, along the Gulf Coast and in south Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

Both high-tech telecommunications switching facilities, which are designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 200 miles an hour, connect millions of calls, wireless data transmissions and other critical services daily for consumer and business customers. In addition to hardened and reinforced shells, the all-steel and concrete buildings house large-scale 500 kilowatt diesel power generators, a grid of back up batteries and other redundant back-up systems, operations and technologies.

C Spire also relies on an extensive network of microwave technology that can circumvent damaged or destroyed landline systems and ensure that wireless calls can be routed to their final destination, Bye said. “This microwave technology is critical to support communications during natural disasters when landline systems are inoperable,” he added.

In addition, C Spire offers companies of all sizes a suite of disaster recovery and business continuity services through its $24 million commercial data center in Starkville. The new center has the data center industry’s highest design, construction and operation certification through the Uptime Institute and operates 24/7/365.

The 23,800 square foot structure can withstand a 145 mph wind load with its 9-inch think external steel-reinforced precast concrete walls welded to 6-foot-wide spread footings. In addition to multiple redundant power feeds, the center also boasts giant diesel generators, each capable of producing 1.65 megawatts of continuous power, enough to light over 1,600 homes.

“This infrastructure and our continuing network investments will help ensure that essential communications continue for our consumer and business customers even when we experience severe weather events, natural disasters and other life-threatening situations,” Bye said.

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

About C Spire
C Spire is a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides world-class, customer-inspired wireless communications, 1 Gigabit consumer Internet access as well as a full suite of dedicated Internet, wireless, IP Voice, data and cloud services for businesses. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.