Mobile Carriers Ready "Cells-On-Wheels" in Case of Outages or Network Overloads


All of the major mobile phone carriers have Cells-On-Wheels (COW) and Cells-On-Light-Trucks (COLT)-- vehicles to restore mobile phone service or add additional call capacity in the event of cell tower failure or another emergency situation. These vehicles have been deployed to strategic locations in Florida in advance of Hurricane Charley's landfall.

A COW is self-contained, fully-functional portable cell sites that can replace existing cell towers for an indefinite period of time. They are typically either large trailers pulled behind a service truck or they are built into the rear of a 16 to 24-foot straight truck. COWs can support the full range of voice and data communications.

A COLT is a smaller portable cell site. It is typically installed into the rear of a smaller truck and is designed for smaller call volumes and shorter deployments.

The photo in this article shows a Verizon Wireless COW (the large, white straight truck on the right), and a Cingular Wireless COLT (the smaller white truck with the Cingular logo on it, partially obscured by the truck with the satellite dish on top of it. Note that the Verizon COW has dual antennas that extend higher than the COLT's single antenna.

Verizon reported today that 80 percent of its individual cell sites in Florida have generators on-site. I'm sure that they have an infrastructure management system that can report which cells don't have backup power, so they can pre-position backup equipment there. [ photo courtesy of Verizon Wireless ]