Since the beginning of the pandemic, Florida has seen people flock to the state, drawn to the unbeatable weather and friendly hospitality, the family fun in the many theme parks throughout the state, and the miles and miles of beautiful coastline.
Verizon is responding to Florida’s exponential and unexpected population increase by allocating an additional $149 million to its local capital spending to meet skyrocketing demands on the network.
From January 2020 to April of this year, more than a quarter of a million Verizon wireless customers have moved to Florida, and data traffic has spiked. Since January 2020, busy-hour traffic in Miami has increased 364%, in Tampa it has increased 135%, in Orlando 408%, in West Palm Beach 165%, in Fort Myers 173% and in Collier busy-hour traffic has increased an astounding 257%, and Glades 271%.
“We are used to seeing seasonal increases in population in Florida and have always accommodated those temporary fluctuations with temporary network assets to add capacity at various times of the year,” said Kyle Malady, EVP and President, Global Networks and Technology. “With the evolution of the distributed workforce resulting from the pandemic, we’re seeing more people permanently change locations to Florida, and other places. Experiencing the impact of this influx, we revised our forecasting models and are pouring additional capital into the state to grow our coverage and capacity to meet the increased demands.”
Recent and ongoing network expansion
Massive investments the last two years have added much needed capacity to the network, particularly in the Miami and Tampa markets where Super Bowl preparation efforts have accelerated network expansions. In 2020 and 2021, Verizon invested over $1 billion in the state of Florida.
That investment was used to expand 4G LTE capacity, introduce and grow Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service, prepare for Super Bowls in Tampa and Miami, prepare for Formula One racing in Miami, and support first responders and the community in natural disaster recovery efforts.
Consistent capital investments based on consumer usage growth models are critical in order to stay ahead of demand. The increase of more than a quarter million devices has shifted those investment models, so in addition to the annual capital expenditure budgets allocated for Florida, Verizon will invest $149 million above and beyond its annual CapEx to meet the growing needs.
Investments over the next two years will include building more than 3,500 new network solutions including new macro towers, small cell sites and repeaters to increase 4G LTE capacity and coverage, expanding 5G Ultra Wideband service in areas where 5G currently is and to new markets throughout Florida, expanding the underlying fiber footprint that carries data throughout the network and supporting Floridians and first responders in the upcoming hurricane season.
Verizon will also enhance coverage at major population centers and gathering places including Disney World, Orange County Convention Center, and Amalie Arena. Many of these projects could take 12-24 months to bring online, so in the meantime, Florida engineers have deployed long-term temporary assets to address the skyrocketing demands in the sunshine state.
Verizon remains keenly focused on Florida and providing a highly reliable network to meet the growing needs in the state. This investment builds on the company’s network-as-a-service foundation and supports its core areas of growth and innovation across its mobile network.