At Verizon Wireless, that’s no joke. There really are 60 testers driving specially equipped sport utility vehicles, constantly checking on the reliability of the company’s network, placing calls every two and a half minutes to determine the state of voice and data connections, not only of Verizon’s network but of competitors’ as well.
Indeed, federal, state and local emergency managers might want to examine such Verizon practices, because Verizon Wireless places great emphasis on redundancy and preparedness. All facilities are equipped with battery back up, and switching stations have their own generators — in addition to a fleet of portable generators that can be driven where needed. Portable “Cell on Wheels” (COWs) can provide wireless coverage when fixed facilities go out, and “Cell on Light Trucks” (COLTs) —fully outfitted trucks with their own fuel, food and emergency supplies, as well as masts and antennas – provide processing power in emergencies.
That kind of preplanning and preparedness was necessary after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as four years ago in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. When Hurricane Katrina struck, 20 COWs rushed to affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Over 80 percent of Verizon Wireless cell sites in the affected areas had their own generators and so could continue fielding cell calls. It enabled many areas to get their cell coverage restored quickly. After Hurricane Rita, 90 percent of cell sites in the affected areas in Texas were swiftly back on line.
It’s all part of Verizon Wireless’ emphasis on reliability, according to Maiorana. “Why does the government use one service versus another? It’s the belief, the track record, that that phone will work, that data message will go through, that phone will ring when the chips are down. And Verizon has positioned itself, through our network, to differentiate our network superiority,” he said.
A legacy of service
Maiorana comes to government sales naturally. His father worked as a Navy officer, a police officer and an undercover narcotics officer in northern New Jersey.
“Early on, I had a fond appreciation for public service and law enforcement. I understood its importance,” Maiorana recalled.
He joined what was then Bell Atlantic Mobile in 1990, after getting a master’s of business administration in finance at Montclair State College in Montclair, NJ, and held nine different positions in the rapidly expanding organization that became Verizon Wireless.
Maiorana’s appreciation for public service and the needs of government customers expresses itself in his customer relations and the spirit he instills in the organization he heads.
A culture of action
To meet government needs, Verizon Wireless offers a variety of products and services that include secure communications, broadband access and interoperability with other devices, such as personal digital assistants. In homeland security, Verizon Wireless is working to provide first responders with communications commonality and interoperability. The company has long worked with customers such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Security Agency, as well as a variety of state and local agencies.
Indeed, hurricanes Katrina and Rita were almost old hat to Verizon Wireless: In the four-hurricane season of 2004, the company assisted FEMA and Florida authorities and won a major contract from that state in recognition of the work it did.
And the culture of Verizon Wireless is one of action, of moving quickly in the face of a disaster or challenge to restore service and maintain the network’s proud reliability. In 2001, that meant Maiorana drove a truck to the site of the World Trade Center to re-establish the network and make sure that residents and responders had cell phone service. In 2005, it meant that Verizon Wireless workers mobilized in the hard-hit Gulf region.
“Over the course of time, the government customer sees that commitment,” Maiorana noted. “It’s one thing to put it in your brochure and put it in your commercial, but it’s important to see it time in and time out.
“At the end of the day we’re very proud of the customer we serve. We’re dedicated to this government customer, not just here [at Verizon Wireless’ federal operations headquarters] but nationwide. Government needs to make quick decisions with reliable voice and data service.” And, he added, “We recognize that we have a patriotic duty to support homeland security and state and local law enforcement efforts.”