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C SPIRE WIRELESS READY FOR 2011 HURRICANE SEASON
Communications Provider Bolsters Network For Uninterrupted Service In Any Emergency
Ridgeland, Miss., (May 25, 2011) – C Spire Wireless, the largest privately-held wireless communications provider in the U.S., is using National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 22 – May 28) to put the finishing touches on efforts to bolster its network and mobilize employees on the eve of the 2011 hurricane season.
The latest forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an "above average" year with as many as 18 named tropical storms and up to six hurricanes expected to form in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month season that officially begins on June 1. Six to 10 of those storms could strengthen into hurricanes with top winds of at least 74 mph and three to six 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 Trey Howard, director of Network Operations for C Spire. "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."
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 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," Howard said. "We want our customers to know that we stand ready to respond to whatever circumstances come their way."
Howard said the wireless carrier's 1,200-member workforce, along with the company's extensive network resources, will be on "high alert" throughout the 2011 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 2006, C Spire has invested over $350 million as part of its broader $530 million overall network investment on 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.
- Continued expansion this year of the company's mobile broadband network with activation of 60 new high-speed data sites so that 8 out of every 10 customers across the company's service area have access to high-speed data services.
- Activation of 80 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," Howard 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. Haley Barbour and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
About C Spire Wireless
C Spire Wireless is a diversified mobile communications company passionately committed to helping customers get the most out of their wireless devices and services. The nation's largest privately owned wireless communications provider accomplishes this goal by optimizing customers' app experience through Discover Apps, providing the most reliable and advanced high-speed nationwide wireless voice and data network, offering industry-leading family and unlimited flat rate voice, text and mobile web plans, and through its online and in-store Discover Centers, which give customers easy, simple and convenient tools, tips, advice and information on how to get the most out of their mobile phone. For more information about C Spire products and services, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.