Verizon offers wireless priority service

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Verizon Wireless is making wireless priority service (WPS) available in coverage areas around Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Los Angeles; and south Florida.

WPS is a federal program that gives priority network access to national security and emergency preparedness officials in times of emergency. Officials who need access must apply through the National Communications Service (NCS) in advance so they will be preapproved when disaster hits.

After Verizon makes WPS available in its initial markets this month, the company plans to expand it throughout the year, according to a company announcement. Computer Sciences Corp. is Verizon's partner on the project.

During emergencies, personnel with WPS access are guaranteed that their calls will go out on the next available wireless channel, improving their chances of getting calls out when wireless traffic is at a peak.

“If an event were to occur and trigger increased traffic on wireless networks, it is critical for those responding to the emergency to be able to get through as fast as possible,” said Mike Maiorana, vice president of the government team at Verizon, in a written statement. “Verizon Wireless is pleased to support the government’s mission by making this important resource available to those charged with caring for our public safety and security.”

Several other wireless providers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Cingular and Nextel, already offer WPS. NCS opened the service first to carriers using the Global System for Mobile Communications and Integrated Digital Enhanced Network protocols. Companies using Code Division Multiple Access, including Verizon, have had to wait.

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