It’s national hurricane preparedness week, and carriers are claiming they are more prepared than in recent years, when disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ike crippled communications.
In 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) invested more than $230 million in its Texas networks to improve coverage. The company said that its made preparations for the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season by deploying Sprint’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) to prepare its networks to withstand a projected 12 to 18 tropical storm systems. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculated the estimates for this year’s storm season.
In the last 16 months, Sprint spent $51 million in Houston, $84 million in Dallas-Fort Worth, $22 million in San Antonio, $23 million in South Texas and $14.5 million in Austin and added more than 50 new cell sites to Texas. The carrier installed 80 hydrogen fuel cell generators at cell site locations across Texas, which the company claims will provide extended hours of backup power before needing refueling versus traditional generators.
Sprint said its ERT has spread out hundreds of portable generators, satellite cell on light trucks (SatCOLTS), and cell sites on wheels (COWs) across Texas.
Verizon Wireless (VZ) is claiming they are also prepared by investing $6B in improvements annually last year including hurricane preparedness by pre-arranging fuel delivery to mobile units and generators to keep networks operational during power loss. Other disaster solutions from Verizon include planning for COWs, SatCOLTs, and Generators on Trailers (GOaTs), which can be brought to areas hit hard in a timely manner.
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