FierceTelecom: Could you talk about a real-world scenario you faced during one of the hurricanes, for example?
Price: I think a good example was Hurricane Katrina. For us, it was a couple of challenges. One was to be in such a major large scale through multiple miles of disaster that truly taxed the entire infrastructure there. We had network challenges and housing our people. We also had some real HAZMAT challenges because of all the raw sewage flowing through the area. Some of our technical facilities were actually impacted by the flow of raw sewage. The guys on the HAZMAT team were able to do some of the cleanup of those facilities and at the same time work troubles in those facilities.
Because of the housing shortage, we decided to go and purchase our own custom built housing trailers. We now have five trailers in our fleet that can each house ten people. We have those located throughout the country so that if have a similar incident and we need to be deployed for a long period of time we can roll these trailers into an area. Each one has three showers combined with a private toilet and sink facility in it.
FierceTelecom: You mentioned that you met with a number of government state/local and federal government agencies during the event. What are their key concerns when it comes to disaster recovery?
Price: It has been really been enjoyable to talk to customers that are very much turned into their disaster needs. Obviously, they are very concerned about communications. I think for many of them it was enlightening for them to see the level of preparation and equipment we have on our disaster recovery team.
We had one of our recovery trailers on a flat bed truck that looks like a fiber regeneration shelter you'd find out on a right of way somewhere. The particular one we had here was the same one we had to deploy recently in Georgia when a tractor trailer driver tried to out run a train to the crossing. Obviously, he and the train lost and wiped out one of our regeneration sites. This particular disaster recovery asset, which sits in Dallas, TX, is flexible enough when we get call the technicians can outfit that trailer with any optical equipment (ROADMs, cross connects, or amplifiers). In that particular case from the time we got the call, configured the equipment, got it to Georgia, plugged it in and had it running was 27 hours.
The other thing is you get sucked into this false sense of security that government agencies have a number of disaster recovery resources. We're finding out that many agencies are in need of new enhanced services. A perfectly good example is FEMA. A few weeks ago I was invited to go with someone from our wireless group to present at a technology forum FEMA hosted. While we delivered our story, FEMA delivered its story. It was a good give and take session with FEMA telling us what their needs were. One of FEMA's representatives talked about how they needed some enhanced satellite capabilities to do more things from a disaster scene. I made sure that we targeted that individual to have them out at our disaster recovery event. We spent two hours just with FEMA talking about needs and capabilities. FEMA then said to us that they want to engage our team at the end of this month and take it to the next level to start talking about some of the solutions we have in our satellite group and our emergency response group that we can use now.