Verizon offers free calling, texting, data to postpaid, prepaid customers affected by Hurricane Florence

STOCK PHOTO (SOURCE: WGCL)

The four major wireless carriers in the United States said they are prepared to keep customers connected along the East Coast as Hurricane Florence bears down onto the Carolina coast.

Verizon Wireless said final fine-tuning measures are underway and local network teams are prepared to travel coast-to-coast to assist areas hardest hit by the storm.

Network enhancements in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and across the Southeast Coast since last year's storm season include: expanding and densifying the most advanced 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network adding capacity to hundreds of cell sites fortifying coverage along major roadways putting cell site equipment on stilts to avoid damage due to flooding and installing new in-building network systems at hospitals, government and emergency facilities, high-traffic public venues and other key locationsIn addition, the company has a number of "switch" network processing centers across the southeast. With hardened shells, these facilities also feature large-scale on-site power generation, various redundant operations and technologies, and other back-up systems to ensure the company's network remains strong, running and reliable.

Other Verizon Wireless ongoing efforts to ensure a reliable network include: preparing emergency command centers in the case of a storm or other crisis readying the company's fleet of mobile equipment including of Cells on Wheels (COWS), Cells on Light Trucks (COLTS), and generators on a trailers (Goats) that can be rolled into hard-hit locations or areas that need extra network capacity pre-arranging fuel delivery to mobile units and generators to keep the network operating at full strength even if commercial power is lost for an extended period of time topping off and testing generators and battery backups in cell sites coordinating with local, state and federal emergency services so they have the communications services they need pre-positioning emergency equipment, setting up our local switch location to house our 24x7 command center using the newest technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to survey tower damage after a stormAs part of Verizon’s ongoing commitment to those on the front lines of public safety, all speed caps restrictions have been lifted for first responders in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. In addition, the Verizon Response Team (VRT) has already began providing items like mobile hotspots and phones to public safety and other support teams to make sure they can stay connected, as well pre-staging charging stations and disaster response trailers for deployment where the need will be greatest.

AT&T has helped lessen the burden on customers through many natural disasters so they can take care of what matters most – helping their friends and families through this tough time.

We plan to provide unlimited talk, text, and data for AT&T wireless and AT&T PREPAID customers in areas most affected by Hurricane Florence. We are closely monitoring Hurricane Florence, and we’re committed to taking care of our customers in their time of need.

T-Mobile

As Hurricane Florence increases in intensity on its path toward the East Coast of the U.S., T-Mobile is actively making preparations to take care of customers and employees who may be impacted. A few efforts underway: Our engineering and rapid response teams are positioned to quickly activate emergency equipment such as fuel trucks, mobile Cell on Wheels (COWs) and back-up power solutions, including portable generators, as soon as the storm begins to impact the area. As long as it’s safe for them to remain open, our stores and other facilities are prepared to help customers and impacted employees. They will have water, mobile generators, device charging stations, car and wall chargers and other supplies available. We’ll closely monitor the needs of the community in the aftermath of the storm to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to help. Hurricane Florence is expected to cause widespread tree damage, power outages and flooding -- all of which could contribute to network outages. We encourage customers to follow those evacuation orders to ensure their safety and minimize risk of service disruption.

We are also closely tracking Hurricane Isaac, which is threatening Puerto Rico, and Hurricane Olivia, which is gaining strength and tracking toward Hawaii. We encourage customers in those areas to monitor the storms and follow any community safety orders issued by local authorities.

If you are in an area that could potentially be impacted, we encourage you to charge devices and backup power packs now while power is intact.

Sprint

Hurricane Florence is a serious storm and Sprint will continue to closely watch its path. Preparations have been underway over the last several days to identify recovery resources (such as equipment, fuel, generators, etc.) and their availability in the area. Our recovery teams are on stand-by to ensure personnel are available after Florence makes landfall. And, we’re staging resources such as SatCOLTs (satellite cell sites on light truck) and VSATs (portable satellite systems) inside and outside the projected impacted areas to enable rapid deployment and minimize any disruption of services.

Additional prep ahead of Hurricane Florence Installed pumps and raised the equipment platforms at flood-prone sites across the area; Added alarms at sites to help identify water intrusion and address any issues prior to equipment being impacted; Performed ongoing maintenance, and ensured fixed and portable generators are topped off with fuel; Reviewed portable generator storage locations and adjusted fleet counts as needed to better support field teams and restoration/recovery efforts; Continued ongoing upgrades to existing cell sites to leverage all three of Sprint’s spectrum bands – providing a larger coverage footprint, and faster, more reliable service; Ensured emergency response equipment such as SatCOLTs (satellite cell sites on light truck) and VSATs (portable satellite systems) are ready to deploy during emergency events; Conducted periodic training and readiness exercises during the year; and Convened more than a thousand Sprint reservists who are on stand-by and ready to jump into action alongside Sprint’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) during a disaster.Wireless consumers prepare now and be ready: Make sure you have emergency phone numbers programmed into your mobile devices; Ensure that you have extra batteries and car-chargers for back-up; Have a range of different-sized plastic, re-sealable bags on hand to store your technology devices and accessories in the event of flooding; Stay informed and download storm apps from the Red Cross and FEMA which can provide helpful resources for local area outreach, such as shelter finders and emergency meeting location information; Always keep your wireless devices charged when possible because of the possibility of commercial power loss during or after a storm; and Use text messaging when possible during and after a major weather event due to high call volumes and possible network congestion in the local area.Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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