How Verizon’s Oklahoma operations center is preparing to maintain cell service availability

How Verizon’s Oklahoma operations center is preparing to maintain cell service availability

TULSA, Okla. — Verizon’s network operations center for all of Oklahoma is located right here in Tulsa.

This is where all the data we use for web browsing, text messages and phone calls is processed before it is sent.

“We all rely on our mobile phones, and I think that’s important,” said Zack Lusk, a senior engineer at the company. “I didn’t have power yesterday for another event, but my phone worked so I was able to monitor when I got power back.”

With backup generators and batteries, the staff at the Tulsa facility is always on alert for a loss of service.

They even have a backup facility somewhere in Tennessee in case of a mass outage in the state.

Chris Ross, a Verizon Field Assurance Engineer, showed us inside one of the portable cell units they deploy in emergency situations. Some were in use in Barnsdall when a tornado hit in early May.

“This could probably transmit a range of about three miles,” Ross said. “When there’s a disaster or something, people need to use their cell phones, so that’s what we’re here for, to provide emergency communication when something bad happens.”

Although some of the trucks are intended to provide temporary relief, they have previously been used for a year at a time.

“If we lose a cell site in the field somewhere, say to a tornado, of course in Oklahoma we get those or an ice storm, we can pull that into the field to replace that tower or cell site while it’s ready. ” Ross said.

When Tulans think of mass blackouts, Father’s Day 2023 may come to mind.

Associate Director of Network Operations Paul Hughes took me back to that time and explained how regular equipment maintenance can save everyone unnecessary headaches.

“Over 95 percent of our sites lost power,” Hughes said. “We powered them with either permanent generators or temporary assets and were 100% restored in 48 hours or less.”

Keeping equipment ready also means making sure their installation is regularly updated so they can stay abreast of technology trends such as the move from 4G to 5G.

“We need to have a facility where we can bring new things in, and that way the old things can be removed and the new things come into play,” said Ram Nandiraju, Verizon’s associate director of network performance. “This is in preparation for any future advancements in technology, so we’re making sure the facility is ready for that when the hardware is ready for us.”

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