America’s Newest Network provides a greater wireless coverage and capacity footprint during times of an emergency weather event
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), June 02, 2014 – While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a below-average number of storms for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season, Sprint (NYSE:S) and the Sprint Emergency Response Team (ERT) announced that they are prepared to immediately respond if a storm strikes.
Additionally, with the continued launch of America’s Newest Network in 443 cities – including the hurricane-prone areas of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Houston; Miami; New Orleans; Orangeburg, S.C.; Wilmington, N.C.; and West Palm Beach, Fla. – Sprint’s network will provide the following during emergency weather events:
- A better wireless coverage footprint and overlap to compensate if a cell site is impacted from a natural disaster.
- Enhanced wireless data and voice capacity due to modernized network hardware and software.
- Reduction of blocked voice calls during mass calling events.
Should a hurricane or tropical storm threaten the operation of Sprint’s network this hurricane season, the company’s Network Disaster Recovery unit and Emergency Response Team will begin to implement a standard emergency response approximately 24 to 72 hours before the storm is predicted to make landfall. As part of that emergency protocol, Sprint pre-stages critical company assets in the region where the storm is expected. These pre-staged assets include:
- Portable generators to provide power to Sprint network assets when local electric power is unavailable.
- Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs) and Cell Sites on Wheels (COWs) to expedite restoration of service and to help facilitate wireless and IP communications among disaster relief and emergency response agencies.
- Experienced and well-trained technicians and engineers who can readily access and maintain the resiliency of Sprint network assets.
Sprint also has thousands of permanent generators – automatic cutover switches to minimize loss of commercial power – installed at:
- All of its wireless and wireline switches – the network components where wireless data and calls are routed to their final destination.
- Approximately 250 additional cell sites across the country since November 2013, particularly in the states of Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
- The company’s network Points of Presence (POP) – the facilities where traffic enters and leaves the company’s global IP network, which facilitates dedicated data services for Sprint’s corporate and government customers, as well as other critical communications.
- Wireless cell sites which serve coastal communities on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states most at risk for power outages.
Sprint is committed to serving the emergency response community
The first of its kind in the industry, the Sprint Emergency Response Team (ERT) was created in 2002 as a cross-functional group of full-time and seasoned personnel with expertise in providing immediate restoration of wireless voice, data and IP service, and communications coordination among disaster relief and emergency response agencies, public safety officials and medical personnel.
Since its inception, Sprint ERT has conducted more than 6,100 deployments, and provided emergency wireless support for close to 2,500 events, including recently supporting the Army National Guard during an April 2014 training exercise in Alaska, the 2013 tornados in Moore, Okla., the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and the 2013 LAX Air Exercise.
To facilitate this multi-agency coordination during times of an emergency, Sprint ERT maintains an inventory of 25,000 Sprint handsets, mobile broadband devices, and fully charged Sprint Direct Connect phones at secured facilities in Dallas, Orlando and Sterling, Va.
In addition to having experience in military and public safety communications, continuity management, and disaster response, Sprint ERT is supported year-round and nationwide by an ERT Reservist program. These 1,100-plus ERT Reservists are trained annually on all aspects of Incident Command System (ICS), National Incident Management System (NIMS), Emergency Operation Center (EOC) staffing and management, and disaster response.
Sprint ERT also maintains a 24-hour hotline, 365 days a year to rapidly address client needs round the clock. In addition, during times of state and federally declared national disasters, Sprint ERT provides 25 mobile devices and wireless service free of charge for 14 days from the date of declaration to state and local agencies.
Sprint and NextRadio provide free emergency FM radio access
For customers looking for additional communications resources during an emergency, Sprint exclusively offers the NextRadio ® interactive FM radio application, which receives FM radio broadcasts in a user’s local area through a built-in FM tuner inside the smartphone. Available on select Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA Android-powered smartphones, the free Google Play app allows consumers to listen to FM radio stations on the go.
By downloading NextRadio, Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA customers can use their Android smartphone to receive news and information from local broadcast affiliates during times of emergency. FM radio can be a lifeline to citizens when other communication networks suffer disaster- related outages, such as hurricanes.
Preparedness and post-storm tips for Sprint customers
Wireless consumers are also encouraged to use the following tips to prepare for a hurricane, severe flood or other natural disasters:
- Wireless networks sometimes experience heavy traffic during emergency events, so remember to send text messages, rather than call.
- Keep your wireless phone and backup batteries charged, but be aware that an interruption of wireline and commercial power could affect wireless calls. If possible, get extra batteries and charge them.
- In times of commercial power outages, a car adapter for your wireless phone should enable you to recharge the battery.
- Keep phones and necessary accessories in a sealed plastic bag to avoid water damage.
- Load family and emergency numbers into your wireless phone.
- Use your Sprint phone to take digital pictures or video of your property and valuables before the storm hits. Upload the images to a cloud service so you have “before” pictures in the event of any storm damage.
For more information about Sprint’s hurricane preparation efforts, or to learn what you can do to prepare for a major storm, visit www.sprint.com/hurricaneinformation. Public safety officials seeking information about services from the Sprint Emergency Response Team should call 1-888-639-0020 or email ERTRequests@sprint.com.