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C Spire Ready for 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season

C Spire is using National Hurricane Preparedness Week to put the finishing touches on efforts to bolster its network and mobilize employees on the eve of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.

The latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast calls for as many as eight to 13 named tropical storms to form in the Atlantic Ocean during the six-month period that officially begins on June 1. Three to six of those storms could strengthen into hurricanes with top winds of at least 74 mph and one to two could become major hurricanes with maximum winds of 111 mph or more.

While the risk this year is expected to be lower thanks to an El Nino effect, which causes stronger wind shear and reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, it’s still important for residents and businesses to prepare for the worst, according to forecasters and emergency response officials.

C Spire prepares its extensive wireless network and workforce for a wide range of potential disasters, including major weather events such as hurricanes. The company routinely reviews and updates its emergency preparedness plans and conducts drills throughout the year to test the readiness of its network, employees and backup systems.

"Our preparations are designed to give customers maximum reliability on their wireless phones at the time of greatest need," said Eric Hollingsworth, vice president of Network Operations for C Spire Wireless. "When disaster strikes, people depend on their wireless phones as a lifeline to the outside world. We are committed to providing our customers with the best network coverage possible in every situation.”

Last year was only the third below-normal season in the last 19 years since 1995 when the current high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes began. Fourteen tropical and subtropical storms formed in the Atlantic basin in 2013, but only two became hurricanes and only one, Tropical storm Andrea, made U.S. landfall. Andrea spawned tornadoes, heavy rain and flash flooding in portions of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, resulting in one death.

Hollingsworth said the wireless carrier's 1,250-member workforce, along with the company's extensive network resources, will be on "high alert" throughout the 2014 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30. C Spire also stands ready to activate its Emergency Response Plan, which guides the deployment of company resources and personnel during a crisis.

C Spire routinely takes precautionary steps and puts restoration teams on stand by and masses equipment and materials to protect critical network facilities and cell sites. The company uses back up batteries and diesel generators at sites and makes arrangements for replacement fuel supplies in case normal fuel delivery options are interrupted by commercial power outages.

The company has built two multi-million dollar, hurricane-ready “super switches” in Mobile, Alabama and in Hattiesburg, Mississippi that provide added protection and service for customers in south Mississippi, along the Gulf Coast and in south Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

Both high-tech mobile phone switching facilities, which are designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 200 miles an hour, connect millions of calls, wireless data transmissions and other critical services daily for consumer and business customers. In addition to hardened and reinforced shells, the all-steel and concrete structures house large-scale 500 kilowatt diesel power generators, a grid of back up batteries and other redundant back-up systems, operations and technologies.

"C Spire also relies on an extensive network of microwave technology that can circumvent damaged or destroyed landline systems and ensure that wireless calls can be routed to their final destination," Hollingsworth said. “This microwave technology is critical to support communications during natural disasters when landline systems are inoperable,” he added.

“This infrastructure and our continuing network investments will help ensure that essential communications continue for our consumer and business customers even when we experience severe weather and other life-threatening situations,” Hollingsworth said.

The company is coordinating its emergency response preparations with local, state and federal agencies, including the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the office of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

About C Spire

C Spire is a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides world-class, customer-inspired wireless communications, 1 Gigabit consumer Internet access as well as a full suite of dedicated Internet, wireless, IP Voice, data and cloud services for businesses. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.

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