June 30, 2010
More than $245 million invested to enhance Sprint networks along the Gulf coast; Sprint builds on emergency response experience in South Texas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan., Jun 30, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

Sprint (NYSE:S) said today this it is making significant preparations and closely tracking the path of Hurricane Alex as it approaches the coast of South Texas and is anticipated to intensify before making landfall.

In 2009, Sprint invested more than $245 million to add new cell sites and enhance its Nationwide Sprint Network and Nextel National Network in states and hurricane-prone areas in the Gulf coast, including more than $9 million in South Texas and more than $15 million in New Orleans.

A primary reason for the loss of wireless service in a hurricane is the loss of commercial power to the cell site. As it does for every impending tropical storm or hurricane, Sprint is staging hundreds of backup generators and experienced network personnel in strategic locations to manage potential service impacts.

"With the projections made for this hurricane season especially, the first major storm is always a good test of wireless carrier’s ability to keep emergency workers, businesses and residents connected during a crisis," said John Stevens, southwest regional vice president for Sprint. "Sprint has an exceptional history of excelling in this area with strategic resources, well-trained staff and unmatched experience."

Sprint ERT ready to assist first responders

Sprint has a strong track record of providing critical communications and personnel to assist first responders and other emergency personnel with relief efforts. The Sprint Emergency Response Team (ERT), which has a hub in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex - a few hours drive from South Texas, is prepping its reserve of Cell Sites on Wheels (COWs) and Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTS) to readily restore wireless service quickly for customers and disaster response efforts.

During the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the Sprint Emergency Response Team participated in two-large scale emergency training and hurricane-simulation exercises in Austin and Brownsville, Texas with local first responders, including the Texas National Guard.

Since its creation in 2002, Sprint ERT has conducted more than 4,400 deployments and provided emergency wireless support for more than 1,200 events, including the recent mining accident in Montcoal, W.Va., the 2009 shooting massacre in Fort Hood, Texas, the 56th Presidential Inauguration in 2009 and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Sprint ERT maintains a 24-hour hotline, 365 days a year, to rapidly address client needs and during times of state and federally-declared national disasters, provides 25 mobile devices and wireless service free-of-charge for 14 days to state and local agencies.

Emergency mobile apps and preparedness tips

Sprint customers can also use their mobile phones obtain important information during a crisis situation by accessing a series of emergency mobile apps, such as:

  • In Case of Emergency (ICE) - Available in the Android Market and BlackBerry App World, this app provides EMTs with critical personal and medical data including name, important notification telephone numbers, blood type, allergies, physician’s name and number, and existing medical conditions.
  • First Aid - This app offers concise, clear instructions to offer first aid. It includes illustrations, videos and short texts that show how to take the necessary action in the correct order. Available in Android Market.
  • Medical Spanish - AUDIO - Available for Android phones like Sprint’s HTC Hero(TM) and Samsung Moment(TM) and for BlackBerry smartphones, the Emergency Medical Spanish Guide (EMSG) is a tool designed for non-Spanish speaking health Care professionals to quickly ascertain vital medical information from their Spanish-speaking patients.
  • Droid 911 - HTC Hero and Samsung Moment users can use Droid 911 to find the nearest police stations, fire stations, hospitals, tow trucks, auto repair shops, gas stations and ATM machines, based on your location. Available in Android Market.

Wireless consumers can also use the following tips to prepare for a hurricane, severe flood or other natural disaster:

  • Keep your wireless phone and backup batteries charged, but be aware that an interruption of wireline and commercial power could affect wireless calls.
  • If possible, get extra batteries and charge them.
  • In times of commercial power outages, a car adapter for your wireless phone should enable you to recharge the battery.
  • Keep phones and necessary accessories in a sealed plastic bag to avoid water damage.
  • Load family and emergency numbers into your wireless phone.
  • Use your Sprint camera phone to take digital pictures or video of your property and valuables before the storm hits. Upload the images to your personal pictures inbox on www.sprint.com so you have "before" pictures in the event of any storm damage.
  • Wireless networks sometimes experience heavy traffic during emergency events, so remember to use Nextel Direct Connect(R) or send a text message.

Texas is the biggest Sprint 4G state

Additionally, as part of its ongoing work with Mark Sudduth of HurricaneTrack.com, Sprint has supplied his team with Sprint 3G and 4G mobile broadband devices to give them fast and reliable mobile Internet connectivity during their weather data reporting this hurricane season.

With speeds that are up to 10 times faster1 than 3G Internet service, Sprint 4G is currently available in 36 markets, including Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston - making Texas the "biggest 4G state" in terms of the number of people who have access to the Sprint 4G mobile network.

For more information about Sprint Nextel hurricane preparation efforts, or to learn what you can do to prepare for a major storm, visit www.sprint.com/hurricaneinformation. Public safety officials seeking information about services from the Sprint Emergency Response Team should call 1-888-639-0020 or email ERTRequests@sprint.com.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 48 million customers at the end of the first quarter of 2010 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, and is the first and only wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, Common Cents Mobile and Assurance Wireless and instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. With its customer-focused strategy, you can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

1 "Up to 10x faster" based on download speed comparison of 3G’s 600 kbps vs. 4G’s 6 Mbps. Industry published 3G avg. speeds (600 kbps-1.7 Mbps); 4G avg. speeds (3-6 Mbps). Actual speeds may vary. Sprint 4G currently available in over 30 markets and counting, and on select devices. See www.sprint.com/4G for details. Not all services available on 4G and coverage may default to 3G/separate network where 4G unavailable.

SOURCE: Sprint

Media Contacts:
Crystal Davis, 571-288-6806
John Taylor, 571-437-4685