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C Spire Waives Activation, Monthly Fees for Priority Service That Aids Critical Mobile Communications for Emergency First Responders
Provider move encourages police, fire and other designated emergency response agencies to use Wireless Priority Service for essential mobile communications during times of crisis or natural disaster
Ridgeland, Miss. (May 20, 2016) – With the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season about the begin, C Spire is waiving the one-time activation charge and monthly service fee for Wireless Priority Service (WPS), which gives eligible emergency response agencies and personnel a higher priority connection to its mobile communications network during a crisis or natural disaster.
WPS gives emergency service personnel, including federal, state and local government officials, police, fire and other designated public health and safety first responders, a higher-priority connection to C Spire’s network during natural disasters like hurricanes, terrorist attacks and major accidents by dialing *272 before the destination phone number on pre-authorized mobile phones.
While priority calls do not preempt calls in progress, WPS allows authorized users to gain priority access to the next available wireless channel on the C Spire network, thereby increasing the probability of call completion during emergencies and times of crisis, according to Stephen Bye, chief technology officer for C Spire.
“In an emergency situation, essential communications are critical for public safety and emergency responders who need to get through as fast as possible,” Bye said, noting that hurricanes, widespread flooding and tornadoes have caused billions of dollars in damage, injuries and deaths in recent years in the Southeast.
The initial 2016 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.
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. However, it’s still critical for first responders to be able to communicate during emergencies, Bye said.
“We want to support emergency responders by making this important resource available and affordable for cities, counties, state and federal agencies responsible for protecting the public during times of crisis or natural disaster,” he added.
WPS requires a one-time activation fee of up to $10 per line and each call has a per minute charge of up to 75 cents a minute, but C Spire is waiving both the activation fee and the monthly service fee of up to $4.50 for all designated and approved emergency responders, Hollingsworth said. Per minute charges would still apply for each user.
To take advantage of WPS on the C Spire network, authorized emergency service personnel must first apply online to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or by calling toll-free 1.866.627.2255 (select option 2). Once eligibility is confirmed, the applicant and C Spire will be notified that the request has been approved and WPS can be added to the user’s account.
Once WPS is activated, registered users simply dial *272 before dialing the 10-digit phone number and the call will be automatically placed in high-priority status for the next available wireless channel.
WPS was developed for wireless communications in 2001 by the Federal Communications Commission and is a companion service to the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) for priority landline communications. Both programs are managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and are part of the National Communications System created by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile crisis.
For more information about WPS, contact a C Spire Business Solutions client account executive or the Assist for Business Support Center at 1.855.277.4732.
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.