MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
When storms hit, people can lose power and cell service. That’s where some hi-tech portable equipment comes in to play.
Verizon Wireless has a whole barnyard of equipment ready to make sure your cellphone keeps working even when severe weather hits.
“[The COLT] is a fully-functioning cell site,” Verizon engineer Martin Guldberg said. “We have anything in here to support any voice, text message or data need that would be needed, so we drive this out wherever it is and it can replace if needed either to augment coverage or to replace coverage.”
COLT is a truck that serves as a mobile version of a cell tower.
“Some examples where we’ve deployed this COLT have been wildfires in northeast Minnesota as well as the floods that have happened in Fargo,” Guldberg said.
Eighty-two percent of Verizon’s cell towers have back-up generators on-site. But for those that do not, the mobile generators — called GOATs — are sent in.
“There are plugs on the side of the building that we can roll these up and power that cell site for any kind of long-duration power outage,” he said.
Along with cell sites, the switching office plays an integral role in the function of our mobile devices.
“That voice or text is brought back here and this office allows us to connect you with another person you’re calling, another person you’re sending a text message to, or to the internet,” he said.
The office houses a back-up generator, a back-up for the back-up as well as a barrage of batteries. In the rare event that all of these systems are compromised, out of the barnyard comes the Mountain GOAT.
“[It] is a big generator for our switching center or switching office. And on the right you have something called a HORSE, which is a HVAC on road-side equipment,” Guldberg said. “It’s a portable air-conditioner unit that we can drive to wherever there may be a need.”
Those vehicles have responded to other natural disasters, including Superstorm Sandy and the Moore Oklahoma tornado in 2013.