Verizon deploys mobile call centers to Georgia fire emergency

Published 9 May 2007

Cells on Wheels program enables emergency response teams to use their cell phones without disrupting commercial traffic

Like most Americans, we hate our cell phone provider, but here is a reason to love it. Verizon Wireless is now playing a critical role in the state of Georgia’s emergency response planning, with the company assisting with ongoing fire suppression efforts by deploying its Cells on Wheels (COW) vehicles — self-contained mobile cell sites specifically designed for rapid and short-term response. Capable of processing thousands of calls an hour, the intent is to enable more emergency response teams and residents to use their wireless phones concurrently without disrupting either the citizenry or the emergency response teams. (Lack of radio interoperability often forces incompatible response teams to rely on personal or department-isssued cell phones.) For Verizon, the effort is a combination of public relations work and the payoff for a major infrastructure investment in the region’s cellular network. “We’ve invested more than $100 million to date in 2007 in Georgia and Alabama,” said company president Jeff Mango. “The Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery back-up power at all facilities and generators installed at all switching facilities and most cell site locations.”