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Two Hurricane-Ready “Super Switches” Ensure Continued Communications for C Spire Customers in South Mississippi, Gulf Coast and Alabama
Mobile Call Processing Centers Designed To Withstand Category 5 Hurricane; Handle Millions of Calls, Texts, Wireless High-Speed Mobile Broadband Data Traffic
Ridgeland, Miss., (May 18, 2016) – C Spire enters the 2016 hurricane season with two multi-million dollar, hurricane-ready “super switches” providing added protection and service for customers in south Mississippi, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in south Alabama and the Florida panhandle.
Both high-tech mobile phone switching facilities, which are designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 200 miles an hour, connect millons of voice calls, wireless data transmissions and other critical customer services daily for C Spire consumer and business customers. In addition to hardened and reinforced shells, the all-steel and concrete structures house a redundant, large-scale 500 kilowatt diesel power generator, a grid of back up batteries and other redundant back-up systems, operations and technologies.
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 this year is expected to be an average year for hurricanes, even lower threat years have produced catastrophic impacts on communities. In 2015, 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.
“These super switch facilities will help ensure that essential voice and data communications continue for our customers even when we experience severe weather and other life-threatening situations,” said Stephen Bye, chief technology officer for C Spire.
Both the 4,800 square foot, $2.1 million center in Semmes, Alabama and the 2,600 square foot, $6 million facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi feature large switching bays, reinforced interior walls, concrete block and reinforced steel structures for added strength and a double steel reinforced roof grid that protects against debris strikes from roof tile, road signs and tree limbs that might be airborne during a hurricane or severe storm.
Each facility is designed to operate even after the loss of commercial power. “Our battery bays work in concert with commercial power to keep the facility up and running in the event of a hurricane or other severe weather. If we lose commercial power, this set of batteries will power the switch until our diesel-powered generators sense the power failure, automatically activate and come online,” Bye said.
“Our customers depend on their devices and a reliable network to communicate with family members, friends and employers before, during and after a severe weather event,” he added. “These high levels of built-in redundancy provide increased voice and data security, especially during hurricane season and other times of severe weather.”
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.
"While our network was not severely threatened, we spend a lot of time and effort preparing our facilities and employees to handle any challenges presented by these types of storms,” Bye said. “We know our customers count on us as their primary means of communications during and after severe weather and we want them to know that we stand ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that they can rely on our network in any circumstance."
The company intends to continue to aggressively invest in its network to increase coverage, capacity and reliability. “In addition to our best-in-class nationwide voice and data offerings and leading line up of smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, C Spire continues to find new, innovative and creative ways to ensure that our network is there when customers need us most,” Bye added.
For more information on C Spire’s network, visit www.cspire.com/network.
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.