A unique geography plus increased seasonal demands put a strain on a New England community served by NEC customer Verizon.
Cape Cod, MA, has a year-round population of about 220,000, but each summer starting on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day,the area experiences its heaviest tourist season when the local population increases to more than 500,000. The Cape Cod area includes the island of Martha’s Vineyard, located seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts.
Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.
To provide service to the Cape and the surrounding islands, Verizon uses microwave radio technology. This technology is ideally suited for the geography with the ability to carry network circuits through the use of line-of-sight radio signals. When the population swells in the summer, though, additional capacity is needed to provide Verizon’s customers with high-speed connectivity.
Here’s where the American ingenuity comes in. April Yalenezian, a Verizon network engineer from New England (and NEC customer), used creative thinking to develop a way not only to provide increased network connectivity to the area, but also to maintain the critical network connectivity on which the Cape relies, all while maintaining high network reliability.
To meet the increased demands, Verizon upgraded the existing Falmouth to Vineyard Haven line with the new NEC XPIC 5000S radio system using the 11GHz frequency spectrum. However, the existing radio system still needed to be in operation while the new system was put in place.
Upgrading the microwave network was critical to providing high quality service to the Cape Cod area and supporting strategic growth services. The reliability of the microwave radios is essential to Verizon’s network as it’s the only means to serve the island. The new radios will provide increased capacity needed for the demand of circuit growth on Vineyard Haven and Nantucket.
Verizon needed to maintain the integrity of the network and continue to provide service for its customers (E911, DSL and other hi-capacity sensitive services).
April developed a creative method and procedure to maintain the existing radio system and antenna while turning up the new radio at the same time. And she was able to accomplish this within the available defined radio frequency spectrum restrictions. April and NEC network engineer Mark Cowles worked together to test the procedures in NEC’s Lab in Manassas, VA, and make sure the transition worked without a glitch.
Together Verizon and NEC, an industry-leading microwave radio supplier, installed the 5000S radio system, which is designed for long-haul capacities. The 5000S has proven to be a very stable and reliable system and is used around the world for transporting TDM traffic.
Using April’s plan, installation took approximately three months once the radios arrived and the Verizon team had the new system up and running by the end of 2014.
Recently, the new system was put to the test when the Blizzard of 2015 hit Cape Cod and other parts of the Northeast with a vengeance. During the storm, the new NEC microwave system stayed up and running, even when other carriers went down. Nantucket Island was particularly hard hit by the storm, but Verizon and NEC were able to maintain a microwave link that kept service up during the worst of the winter storm.
The collaboration between Verizon and NEC is another great example of how a service provider and its vendor work together to provide improved customer service under adverse conditions.