As Hurricane Ida makes its way to the Gulf, Verizon announced on Friday its teams are preparing once again to provide critical communications before, during and after the storm. With the high likelihood of potential flooding and accompanying commercial outages expected, Verizon said its engineers are topping off generators and pre-staging trucks with fuel and readying mobile network assets for rapid deployment. In addition, the carrier is preparing satellite and microwave equipment as redundancy connections if fiber is impacted, and activating response teams to keep customers and first-responders connected.
“We are actively preparing for Ida and our Verizon team is ready to support the community as yet another major storm impacts this area,” said Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer at Verizon. “We know our customers count on us, especially during tough times, and we will be there with them every step of the way to provide reliable connections to critical resources, colleagues, friends and family.”
Verizon listed the following preparations are in place in anticipation of the severe weather:
- Support for first-responders: The Verizon Response Team says it will be available 24/7 to deliver Verizon Frontline technologies including on-demand, emergency assistance for first-responders. The carrier said it can mobilize Verizon Frontline drones, charging stations, WiFi hotspots, devices, special equipment, emergency vehicles and more to help enable mission-critical communications for local, state and federal agencies across the country. (First-responder customers with wireless priority service should dial *272 or download the Priority Telecommunications Services app when placing calls.)
- COVID-19 considerations: With the ongoing pandemic, Verizon said its worked to ensure it has the necessary personal equipment and processes for the field teams who may have to enter highly populated areas like shelters or operations centers. It has virtualized many command-center functions to make it easier for its engineers working on network repairs and deploying mobile assets to remain socially distanced. Verizon has also arranged for individual portable housing units for mission critical network engineers in the field.
- Redundancy Equals Reliability/Backups to the Backups: Verizon will be using different strategies — including backup generators and HVAC systems and redundant fiber rings for cell sites and switching centers when commercial power is lost or water damage occurs.
- Refueling strategy:Verison will pre-arrange fuel deliveries for generators in case of a storm, with tankers poised and in position to quickly respond to hard-hit areas in the event commercial power is lost.
- Year-round preparation: Verison will run Emergency Operation Center drills throughout the year to ensure our team is ready and equipped to respond to emergencies.
- Support for the community: Mobile Wireless Emergency Communications Centers, Tactical Command Trailers, and Response Trailers are made ready to deploy to support first-responders and community members with recovery efforts.
- Drones at the ready: Surveillance drones will be put on standby to help assess and respond to damage from a storm.
- Satellite assets: A fleet of new satellite-equipped portable cell sites and dedicated satellite links made available for connection. If sustained winds, storm surges or manual fiber cuts damage fiber or microwave during post-storm recovery, the network can continue to run without commercial power, thanks to satellite-enabled portable equipment, dedicated satellite links and a fleet of portable generators.
- Comprehensive fleet management: The Verizon Connect fleet management platform provides greater visibility and situational awareness to help move people and assets out of harm’s way and plan a more coordinated return to business once the storm clears.