With COVID-19 as a backdrop, Verizon gears up for hurricane season

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Verizon is taking extra steps to prepare for this year's hurricane season. (Verizon)

With the hurricane season looming large starting next month, Verizon is taking extra steps to keep its business and residential customers connected.

Further complicating this year's hurricane season, which generally runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 with peaks from mid-August to late October, is the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to additional preparation by Verizon.

With COVID-19 still top of mind, Verizon has worked to ensure that it has enough personal protection equipment (PPE) on hand for its field technicians. The telco has also instituted new processes to ensure that its field teams can safely enter areas such as shelters or operation centers during the hurricane season.

"We have virtualized many command center functions to make it easier for our engineers working on network repairs and deploying mobile assets to remain socially distanced," Verizon said in a Tuesday press release. "We have also arranged for individual portable housing units for mission critical network engineers in the field."

Verizon has also lined up pre-arranged fuel deliveries for its generators in the event of a storm, which includes having fuel tankers in position to quickly respond to hard hit areas in the event that power is lost.

Typically, the loss of power is one of the biggest issues to overcome during hurricanes or other natural disasters. On that note, Verizon has prepped back up generators, HVAC systems and redundant fiber rings for cell sites and switching centers to keep the network up and running.

Verizon has a fleet of surveillance drones on standby in order to assess the damages in a given area, or deliver a wireless service from the sky. Verizon also has new satellite-equipped portable cell sites ready and have secured dedicated satellite links for connections. If fiber, or a microwave, is damaged due to sustained winds, storm surge or manual fiber cuts during post-storm recovery work, satellite-enabled portable equipment and dedicated satellite links, along with the fleet of portable generators, can keep the network running without commercial powering.

Verizon also said it has mobile wireless emergency communications centers, tactical command trailers, and response trailers ready to deploy to support first responders and community members with recovery efforts.

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“In crisis situations, communication is critical. We have experienced it most recently with COVID-19 when a spike in volume on our network demonstrated the importance of connecting with critical resources, colleagues, friends and family,” said Verizon CTO Kyle Malady, in a statement. “Reliability is in our DNA and we prepare all year long for disasters. The strength, reliability and strong performance of our network has been very evident to our customers during the COVID-19 pandemic and our teams are heading into hurricane season with the same tireless dedication and commitment to reliable communications.”