PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s called a switching station — and it’s off limits to most people, let alone television cameras.
But on the condition that it’s location not be disclosed, Verizon Wireless allowed KDKA money editor Jon Delano to tour the facility where every action taken by Verizon Wireless customers on their smartphones gets routed and transmitted.
“In this room, this is where wireless meets wired,” said Dave Yetsko, director of operations for Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. “This is our point of interconnection with all of the wired telephone service providers.”
Yetsko says the state-of-the art facility is on constant alert for anything that could jeopardize the wireless communication system.
“These folks are continually monitoring the network always looking for potential issues within the network and then reacting quickly to restore services or identify issues and correct it before it becomes a network outage,” he says.
And there’s back-up generators and supplies in case commercial power goes out.
“We are now going into the main switch room,” noted Yetsko, as he led the group into a special room for an operation that is increasingly sophisticated.
“This is the blood and guts,” he says. “This is the main processor, if you will, of the data transactions, the voice transactions, anything you are trying to do on your wireless device passes through this infrastructure.”
Every hour of every day millions and millions of packets of data pass through this system, and that poses lots of security and privacy issues for Verizon Wireless customers, issues the company says it’s on top of.
Delano: “How do you protect customers from misuse of information that might pass through here?”
Yetsko: “We have no access to that information.”
Delano: “There’s no text messages stored? There’s no information about the phone calls I’m making?”
Yetsko: “That’s correct. None of that information is stored here. The actual content of that information cannot be accessed here.”
Only law enforcement, says Yetsko, through court orders, can access that.
Verizon Wireless’s goal is to keep the system up and running.