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Steel Roof, Reinforced Walls, Layers Of Security Protect Verizon Wireless Switch Facility [VIDEO]

By Edward Cardenas

OAKLAND COUNTY (CBS Detroit) - The change of seasons not only brings warmer weather, but the chance for damaging spring storms which could knock out power and cellular service.

And inside one of four nondescript buildings in suburban Southfield, magic is happening.

To continue offering uninterrupted service, Verizon Wireless has invested in its network and facilities to continue to connect customer's smart phone calls and data despite the severity of the weather.

"We have redundancy from a power perspective, we've designed multiple locations so that we can make sure that as customers need to use their device in emergency situations their calls actually go through," said Verizon region president Lauren Love-Wright, whose company has invested $2.7 billion in Michigan since 2000 and $100 million in metro Detroit in the past year. "Reliability is part of our vision and our culture. When you need to use  your phone you are able to use it and you are also able to have the experience that you expect."

Verizon's state-of-the-art facilities that connect customers' phone calls and access the Internet have multiple layers of security and backup power sources to make sure calls continue to be connected and data is transmitted.

The secure switch facility - which takes its name from the early days of telephone service when an operator would manually connect calls - now digitally connects 10 million voice calls and 500 million data transmissions - such as YouTube videos and Facebook posts - a day.

To keep this service operational in the worst weather, the building has a steel reinforced roof and walls that could sustain tornado force winds. There are also multiple power lines; battery back-ups; and 1.5 megawatt power generators installed at the facility to ensure the facility is never without power.

"We absolutely have no excuse for ever having a network issue related to power," said Mark Emerick, director of Michigan Network Operations. "With the amount of investment that we have put into this, there is no excuse for it. We take this very seriously."

The hardware that connects wireless customers is located in the center of the building to protect the devices from external threats.

There are also large - 20 to 40 ton - HVAC devices to keep the rooms a constant 72 degrees with 40 percent humidity.

In the field, Verizon also has placed generators at 96 percent of their small cellular sites on-site that will  its network to continue to operate during a power outage.

In case of fire, there are multiple fire detection devices, including an air monitoring system that uses a laser to look for microscopic smoke particles before a fire becomes noticeable by smoke detectors.

And if another blackout were to occur, such as the one that plunged millions of people into darkness in 2003, the switch facility has up to three days of fuel to power generators and contracts to provide refueling as needed.

"We really think about how (customers) use (their) devices in a number of different scenarios, a number of different emergency situations and we build a network to make sure we that we provide a consistent experience," said Love-Wright.

Verizon is not the only company to invest in Michigan. AT&T has invested more than $1.7 billion in Michigan to enhance and expand its network.

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