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Sprint Nextel Network Strengthened As Hurricane Season Looms

In preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, the BCO is conducting a series of company-wide incident management workshops that will validate the plans and preparations for future hurricanes and other potential crisis situations.
by Staff Writers
Reston VA (SPX) Jun 01, 2006
Sprint Nextel Corp. has announced that it is dedicating $100 million for hurricane preparations in storm-prone coastal communities. This investment includes the installation of permanent generators for critical wireless cell sites and network facilities on the company's Global IP Network, which provides wireline data and long distance voice services.

In addition, the investment funds the purchase of portable generators, SatCOWs (Satellite Cell on Wheels) and SatCOLTs (Satellite Cell on Light Trucks) which can be deployed as part of the company's disaster response and recovery.

By the end of 2006, the company plans to install permanent generators in approximately 800 cell sites serving both the Nationwide Sprint PCS and Nextel National Networks, primarily in Florida. The company also announced plans to install 1,500 additional permanent generators at sites in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, and other locations in Florida by the end of 2008.

"Enhancing and improving network resiliency is a top priority for our wireless and Global IP networks," commented Dave Flessas, vice president, network operations for Sprint Nextel.

"With these investments, we will increase our network redundancy and be better able to serve our customers along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, including assisting the region's emergency first responders, in the immediate aftermath of a major hurricane."

In addition to targeting cell sites that handle high volumes of traffic or serve densely populated urban areas and critical hurricane evacuation routes, Sprint Nextel is deploying permanent generators at cell sites that support critical infrastructure such as:

- Public safety organizations - State and local Emergency Operation Centers - Hospitals and nursing homes - Major commercial airports and ports - Government facilities and military bases

As a standard business practice, the company has permanent generators deployed to all of its wireless and wireline switches, the network components where data and calls are routed to their final destination. In addition, permanent generators are installed at all of the company's network POPs (Points of Presence), the facilities where traffic enters and leaves the company's Global IP Network. These back-up generators have automatic cutover switches to immediately neutralize any loss of commercial power.

As a key component of this $100 million investment in network hardening, Sprint Nextel is working to strengthen elements of its Global IP Network in advance of hurricane season. For example, Sprint Nextel is relocating a section of the network's SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) fiber ring between Mobile, Ala. and Hammond, La. to a path further inland, away from flood-prone areas along the Gulf Coast.

The SONET fiber rings carry large amounts of long distance and data traffic across the network to destinations around the world. The construction of the new route should be completed by mid-August, with traffic fully migrated by the end of the year.

Other Hurricane Preparations

Network improvements are just one element in Sprint Nextel's preparation for the 2006 hurricane season. The Sprint Nextel Business Continuity Office (BCO) oversees the company's emergency planning, response and recovery efforts. In less than 72 hours after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, the BCO led the construction of a fully functional incident command center near the area of impact.

In preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, the BCO is conducting a series of company-wide incident management workshops that will validate the plans and preparations for future hurricanes and other potential crisis situations.

The company is also expanding the scope of the Sprint Nextel Emergency Response Team (ERT) in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season. In the 2005 hurricane season, the ERT deployed its fleet of SatCOLTs, the design of which is proprietary to Sprint Nextel, to four hurricane response and recovery efforts in three states. New in 2006, the Sprint ERT's Rapid Deployment Services is deploying SatCOLTs and additional staff members to be pre-staged in southern states.

Related Links
Sprint Nextel Hurricane Preparation Efforts

Subsidence in New Orleans abetted hurricane disaster: study
Paris (AFP) May 31, 2006
Areas of New Orleans had been sinking for years before Hurricane Katrina flooded the city, and the worst subsidence occurred at levees that were easily breached by the storm's surge, a study says.

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