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2/22/2010
05:12 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Verizon Intros Hurricane Proof 'Super Switch'

Mother Nature can dish out some cruel punishment. Almost nothing is more intense -- and destructive -- than a hurricane. Given the importance of communications during times of emergency, Verizon Wireless built a new switch in south Florida that can withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

Mother Nature can dish out some cruel punishment. Almost nothing is more intense -- and destructive -- than a hurricane. Given the importance of communications during times of emergency, Verizon Wireless built a new switch in south Florida that can withstand a Category 5 hurricane.Verizon Wireless is calling its new 45,000-square-foot Mobile Telephone Switching Office (MTSO) a "Super Switch." The facility is located in western Broward County, and is meant to keep Miami and the surrounding environs online despite all that Mother Nature can hurl against it.

According to Verizon, the facility has the capacity to handle tens of millions of voice calls and wireless data transmissions such as text, photo and video messages; downloads of games, music and other applications; uploads to social media sites; Web surfing; and more. It can do all that in a single day.

I don't think anyone questions the greater Miami area's exposure to harsh storms. Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992, was more than enough to show that the region is endangered during hurricane season. Recent natural disasters around the globe, including the earthquakes in Haiti, the tsunami in the Pacific and Hurricane Katrina, have highlighted how important it is to maintain communication networks. That means network operators need to do their best to build facilities that can stand up to some punishment.

Verizon Wireless started working on this particular switch in late 2008, and borrowed from proven designs in Jacksonville and Orlando. Verizon says that the facility can be expanded, and houses a back-up power generator in the event that it were to lose external power. The switch will serve as the company's Emergency Operations Center for South Florida in the event of a hurricane or other crisis.

"South Florida is one of the most dynamic and demanding markets in the nation, with millions of highly mobile tech-savvy customers squeezed along a coast," said Pam Tope, Florida region president for Verizon Wireless in a prepared statement, "We built this switch to ensure our customers have the most reliable, advanced coverage and services today and for decades to come." According to Verizon, the facility will also be able to handle its future Long Term Evolution network technology when it is ready for deployment.

Wireless traffic in the region is set to switch from Verizon's existing networking facilities to this new one at some point in March.

Verizon wasn't able to immediately answer what, exactly, makes the structure able to withstand such a strong storm. If and when Verizon provides me with more information on that point, I'll be sure to share it.

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