Wi-Fi emerges as emergency communications alternative in Fla.
Some cellular carriers are still struggling with power outages
News Story by Bob Brewin
AUGUST 19, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Public access Wi-Fi hot spots have
become a key communications alternative in Florida in the wake of
Hurricane Charley, with the local franchisee of Panera Bread Co. reporting
a 50% increase in traffic for the free Wi-Fi service it offers in 34
outlets in the state.
The widespread power outage hit cellular service in some parts of the
state. Verizon Wireless had only 80% of its cell sites operating in the
Orlando area due to power outages and 97% of its network operating in
southwest Florida, according to a company spokesman. Verizon Wireless,
based in Bedminster N.J., had backup generators to keep the service up and
running, but by today they "started to run out of gas," the spokesman
The Sprint PCS division of Sprint Corp. avoided that problem by ensuring
that it had third-party fuel contracts in place as part of a business
continuity plan, according to John Quigley, Sprint's director of network
operations. Sprint had 200 generators in place in Florida as of Monday,
moving in some from as far away as Chicago, Quigley said.
As of today, 98% of the Sprint PCS network in Florida was operational, up
from 94% yesterday and 91% on Tuesday, Quigley said.
Cingular Wireless in Atlanta deployed 80 generators in Florida to ensure
continuity of operations and on Tuesday started offering free emergency
calls at its 22 retail outlets in Florida.
T-Mobile offers free Wi-Fi in Charley's wake
Cellular companies are ready to bolster coverage, if needed
News Story by Bob Brewin
AUGUST 14, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - T-Mobile USA Inc. said last night it
would offer free wireless Internet connections through Monday at the
roughly 300 Wi-Fi hot spots it operates in Florida in the wake of
Nationwide cellular carriers said they had ample resources in place to
ensure service to customers in the aftermath of the storm.
Cingular Wireless in Atlanta said in a statement that its switching
centers have backup emergency generators. Cell sites have high-capacity
battery backups, and some have emergency generators, ensuring a secure
source of power, if needed.
Cingular also has pre-positioned self-contained mobile cell sites, known
as Cellular on Wheels Systems (COWS), which can be towed or driven into a
disaster area to provide extra call capacity or to restore communications
in an area with downed or knocked-out cellular towers.
Sprint Corp. in Overland Park, Kan., said in a statement that its Sprint
PCS division has also set up COWS in Florida to help with network recovery
efforts if needed.
Verizon Wireless, in Bedminster, N.J., said it also has its own fleet of
COWS and Cells On Light Trucks that can be quickly rolled into a disaster
area to provide extra network capacity. Verizon Wireless, in a statement,
also noted that it conducted a nationwide disaster preparation drill
earlier this year which simulated how it would handle a Florida hurricane.
Verizon Wireless said more than 80% of its transmission sites in Florida
have their own back up generators. It also has mobile generators
available, should they be needed.