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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, Video, High-Speed Mobile Broadband Data Traffic

Ridgeland, Miss., (May 7, 2019) – C Spire enters the 2019 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 switching facilities, which are designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 155 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 Colorado State University, considered one of the nation’s top forecasters, calls for a slightly below average season with 13 tropical storms (wind speeds of 39 mph or higher) and five hurricanes (74 mph or higher winds) forming in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month period that officially begins on Friday, June 1.

“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 Mark Rigney, senior vice president of core network 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,” Rigney said.

Some of the structures, including one of the company’s primary data center in Starkville, Miss., feature 9-inch think external steel-reinforced precast concrete walls welded to 6-foot-wide spread footings. In addition to multiple redundant power feeds, the buildings also boast giant diesel generators each capable of producing 1.65 megawatts of continuous power, enough to light thousands of homes and businesses.

“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.”

2018 was considered an above average season with 15 named storms and eight hurricanes, two of which were considered major, including Florence, which dropped nearly 36 inches of rain on North Carolina, and Michael, whose 155-mile-per-hour winds battered the Florida panhandle and produced 39 fatalities and $16 billion in damages.

"While our network was not severely threatened last year, we spend a lot of time and effort preparing our facilities and employees to handle any challenges presented by these types of storms,” Rigney said. “We know our customers count on us during and after severe weather or natural disasters 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."

C Spire also relies on an extensive network of microwave technology that can circumvent damaged or destroyed landline systems and ensure that communications can be routed to its final destination, Rigney said. “Microwave technology can assist with communications during natural disasters when landline systems are down,” he added.

In addition, the company plans to have cell on wheels (COW) and cell on light trucks (COLTs) available for rapid deployment in areas where cell sites may be damaged or off the air, Rigney said. The company also is studying the possibility of using flying cell on wings or drones in the future.

“A flying COW could be used in areas where we can’t get traditional access due to flooded or washed out roads and downed trees, building materials and other debris,” Rigney said. “All of our efforts are designed to help our customers, emergency personnel and first responders stay connected and alive at the time of greatest need.”

C Spire offers companies of all sizes a suite of disaster recovery and business continuity services through commercial data centers that operate 24/7/365 with the industry’s highest design, construction and operation certification through the Uptime Institute.

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,” Rigney added.

For more information on C Spire’s network, visit www.cspire.com/cms/wireless/no1network/.

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, cloud and managed IT services for businesses and enterprises. 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.