C Spire Wireless Waives Fees for Priority Service Used by Emergency Responders as Isaac Threatens Gulf Coast

C Spire Wireless is waiving the one-time activation charge and monthly service fee for Wireless Priority Service (WPS), which gives eligible emergency response agencies and personnel a higher priority network connection, as Tropical Storm Isaac takes aim at the Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast.

WPS gives emergency service personnel, including federal, state and local government officials, police, fire and other designated public health and safety first responders, a higher-priority connection to C Spire’s network during Isaac, by dialing *272 before the destination phone number on pre-authorized mobile phones.

While priority calls do not preempt calls in progress, WPS allows authorized users to gain priority access to the next available wireless channel on the C Spire network, thereby increasing the probability of call completion during this significant storm or any other crisis or natural disaster, said Terrell Knight, C Spire director of government sales.

“While Isaac moves through C Spire’s service area, essential communications are critical for public safety and emergency responders need to get through as fast as possible,” Knight said, noting that with storms like Isaac have caused widespread flooding, wind damage and tornadoes in recent years in the Southeast that result in billions of dollars in damage, injuries and deaths.

With Isaac approaching, the potential rises dramatically for wireless communications congestion, Knight said. “We want to support emergency responders by making this important resource available and affordable for cities, counties, states and federal agencies responsible for protecting the public,” he added.

WPS requires a one-time activation fee of up to $10 per line and each call has a per minute charge of up to 75 cents a minute, but C Spire is waiving both the activation fee and the monthly service fee of up to $4.50 for all designated and approved emergency responders, Knight said.

To take advantage of WPS on the C Spire personalized network, authorized emergency service personnel must first apply online to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at http://wps.ncs.gov or by calling toll-free 1.866.627.2255 (select option 2). Once eligibility is confirmed, the applicant and C Spire will be notified that the request has been approved and WPS can be added to the user’s account.

Once WPS is activated, registered users simply dial *272 before dialing the 10-digit phone number and the call will be automatically placed in high-priority status for the next available wireless channel.

WPS was developed for wireless communications in 2001 by the Federal Communications Commission and is a companion service to the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) for priority landline communications. Both programs are managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and are part of the National Communications System created by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile crisis.

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