Verizon Wireless uses COWs, Cells On Wheels, to provide cellular service during disasters ranging from fires to snowstorms that knock out cell phone service. But Verizon has added COLTs, Cells On Light Trucks, for quicker response times, according to an article in the Denver Post on July 4. Verizon unveiled a new COLT that will be kept in Denver for rapid disaster response anywhere in Colorado. The company maintains the cell-tower trucks for disaster response in cities throughout the nation. Cellular antennas and other equipment mounted in the vehicle can be up and running within hours compared with the daylong process needed to deploy the company's older COWs, said Rick Enfield, director of operations for Verizon in Colorado and Wyoming. COWs are cumbersome and more costly to use than the new trucks, Enfield said. Deploying a COW can require three trucks, one to carry the antennas, another for a generator and a third to carry other equipment, Enfield said. Verizon must hire trucking contractors to transport cells on wheels. Other wireless companies such as Redmond, Wash.-based AT&T Wireless also have programs to provide service in emergencies, said Kim Kuo, a spokeswoman for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, a Washington-based organization that represents the wireless industry. The mobile equipment in Verizon's new truck cost $500,000 and is able to process thousands of calls in one hour. The 25,000-pound vehicle features two retractable masts, 30 and 60 feet tall, a microwave antenna, an emergency power generator and a small office. Verizon also uses the slower COWs for sports and other events that bring people and their wireless phones together in numbers large enough to swamp the stationary network. Verizon wouldn't say how many emergency vehicles it has in its fleet.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials