In preparation for this year's hurricane season, Sprint Nextel is expanding the scope of its emergency response team, which helps public-safety agencies coordinate communications during emergencies.

The team is deploying SATCOLTs and related staff in southern states and will provide to first responders — for a fee — access to interoperable, terrestrial-to-satellite services, according to the company. The SATCOLTs are 27-foot-long self-propelled vehicles that contain a 60-foot pneumatic mast, a 15 kW generator and 200 gallons of generator fuel that can keep systems running for up to 12 days. The mobile communication centers provide links to Ku-band satellites to connect to Sprint Nextel switches, which in turn deliver connectivity to the carrier's iDEN (push-to-talk), CDMA and packet data networks.