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  • paul rosa
    Disaster-ready Verizon stocks up on mobile cell towers By Tom McGhee Denver Post Staff Writer Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - Denver Post Verizon Wireless didn t
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 30, 2004
      Disaster-ready Verizon stocks up on mobile cell towers
      By Tom McGhee
      Denver Post Staff Writer

      Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - Denver Post

      Verizon Wireless didn't have to go to the barnyard to replace its
      lumbering cows with more sprightly colts.

      The company still uses COWs, or cells on wheels, to provide cellular
      service in disasters ranging from fires to snowstorms that knock out
      cellphone service. But Verizon has added COLTs, cells on light trucks,
      for quicker response times.

      Bedminster, N.J.-based Verizon on Tuesday unveiled a new COLT that will
      be kept in Denver for rapid disaster response anywhere in Colorado. The
      company maintains the cell-tower trucks for disaster response in cities
      throughout the nation.

      Cellular antennas and other equipment mounted in the vehicle can be up
      and running within hours compared with the day-long process needed to
      deploy the company's older COWs, said Rick Enfield, director of
      operations for Verizon in Colorado and Wyoming.

      COWs are cumbersome and more costly to use than the new trucks, Enfield
      said.

      Deploying a COW can require three trucks: one to carry the antennas,
      another for a generator and a third to carry other equipment, Enfield
      said. Verizon must hire trucking contractors to transport cells on wheels.

      Redundant equipment included with Verizon's COWs makes them more
      difficult to deploy than COWs used by some of the company's competitors,
      said Verizon spokeswoman Jenny Weaver.

      Other wireless companies such as Redmond, Wash.-based AT&T Wireless also
      have programs to provide service in emergencies, said Kim Kuo, a
      spokeswoman for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet
      Association, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that represents the
      wireless industry.

      AT&T uses cells on wheels, said AT&T spokesman Mike DiGioia. But unlike
      Verizon's, most can be deployed quickly.

      "It's not something that requires several trucks. The vast majority of
      COWs we have are pretty nimble, and it can be just a matter of putting a
      hitch on it," DiGioia said.

      The mobile equipment in Verizon's new truck costs $500,000 and is able
      to process thousands of calls in one hour.

      The 25,000-pound vehicle features two retractable masts, 30 feet and 60
      feet tall, a microwave antenna, an emergency power generator and a small
      office.

      Verizon also uses the slower COWs for sporting and other events that
      bring people - and their wireless phones - together in numbers large
      enough to swamp the surrounding stationary network.

      Verizon wouldn't say how many emergency vehicles it has in its fleet.

      "We have a fleet of COWs and we have a growing fleet of COLTs," said
      Verizon spokeswoman Jenny Weaver.

      When Verizon had requests from emergency agencies fighting the Hayman
      fire two years ago to provide service near the blaze, COWs went to the
      scene.

      Verizon has taken even more dramatic action to cope with disasters in
      the past. In 2000, during the Hi Meadow fire near Bailey, the company
      used helicopters and llamas to transport equipment to the rugged
      terrain, Weaver said.




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