UPDATE: Verizon Makes Significant Progress in Restoring Service After Lawrence Fire

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All Fiber Services Have Been Restored; Restoration Continues on Copper Cables and Facilities

LAWRENCE, Mass., Aug. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Verizon has made significant progress in restoring service to approximately 7,000 customers who were affected by a fire that destroyed cables under the Central Bridge on North Canal Street.  The heat from the Monday morning fire melted and fused both fiber and copper cables, and the protective casings that house the cables.

Verizon crews who have been working in 24-hour shifts since the fire have been able to make 12,000 fiber optic splices to restore service for all customers served on the company's fiber network, including residence, business and wholesale customers. Work on the fiber network enables Verizon to restore connections to its network operations and monitoring equipment and bring the largest number of customers back in service in the shortest amount of time.

Restoration work continues for approximately 1,000 customers served on the copper network. Service for the vast majority of those customers will be restored within the coming days.

In addition, service to all emergency dispatch centers has been restored.  All 911 service has been operational since the fire, as calls were switched to alternative answering points in adjoining communities, which is a key component of the design of the state's 911 enhanced network. Service to all hospitals and medical centers has been restored.

Verizon crews will continue to work round-the-clock, splicing new cables and restoring service for the remaining customers, who live and work primarily in the Lawrence and North Andover communities. Verizon managers will be going door-to-door in areas where outages remain to speak with customers, and will continue to work with local and state officials on individual customer issues.

The work to restore service is complex, given that technicians are splicing thousands of individual copper and fiber-optic connections in a very confined area under the bridge.  The conduit structure that holds the cables, which was protected by a metal cage, was destroyed and needs to be replaced.

The fire reportedly started early Monday morning (Aug. 27) in a smoldering mattress that had been placed on top of an array of 60 PVC conduits, each of which carries thousands of telecommunications connections.  For security reasons, the conduits were encased inside a chain-link cage, which public safety officials discovered had been broken into. The fire destroyed all 60 conduits and many of the telecommunications connections contained in them.

Verizon crews arrived at the scene and, once fire and police officials secured it, restoration work began immediately and has not stopped.  Verizon technicians were required to cut away the conduits, pull all of the cables out from both ends of the bridge, and begin splicing. The area in which they have to work is small and confined, allowing only a small number of technicians at a time to splice on both ends. Technicians joined 12,000 microscopic fiber strands within approximately 36 hours.

Customers can report outages by calling 1-800-VERIZON.

To assist affected customers, Verizon is making several free services available -- Call Intercept, Call Forwarding and Call Answering. Call Intercept will forward incoming calls to a recorded message informing the caller that the line is out of service and is being repaired by Verizon.  Call Forwarding will transfer incoming calls to a telephone number of the customer's choice.  Call Answering provides small-business or residence customers with the capability to receive and store voice messages, and to retrieve them by using a touch-tone telephone.  (Call Answering is not available in all areas.)

Verizon will provide a further update as new information becomes available.

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with more than 94 million retail customers nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500.  A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 188,000.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.  

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SOURCE Verizon