From generators and additional cell towers to free service across the Carolinas and Georgia, the country’s biggest wireless service providers are scrambling to keep devices on throughout the days-long devastation forecasters say are coming courtesy of Hurricane Florence.
Verizon is offering free calling, text and data for its customers in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia from 9-14 through 9-17 as a lifeline in the storm.
Free calling, text and data for Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia Verizon Wireless customers impacted by Hurricane Florence from 9/14-9/17.
— Verizon (@verizon) September 14, 2018
Xfinity has announced it will open more than 2,000 free wireless hotspots around the Charleston, SC area.
Xfinity opens 2,100 free wireless hotspots in Charleston ahead of Hurricane Florence https://t.co/XTXM2zPcw6
— Comcast South (@ComcastSouth) September 11, 2018
And AT&T says it is providing unlimited talk, text and data for both AT&T wireless and prepaid Cricket customers. In addition, DirecTV and U-verse will broadcast severe weather channels to keep the public informed about the latest Hurricane Florence developments.
Carriers have deployed backup generators, “cell on wheels” and “cell on light trucks” and are staffing emergency command centers throughout affected areas. The additional support is needed to keep those critical networks running not just for victims in the path of Hurricane Florence, but first responders forced to grapple with the aftermath.
Both Verizon and AT&T have dedicated emergency service networks which first responders can access and use regardless of how much traffic there is on the public customer networks, according to CNET.
“I don’t have a magic crystal ball to predict the future,” Verizon spokeswoman Karen Schultz told CNET. “But I can tell you that we maintained 98 percent reliability during Hurricane Harvey and 90 percent of our network remained up in Florida during Irma.”
The FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released a statement reassuring the public the government is working to keep wireless communications up and running.
“At this point, FCC staff have already been deployed to
survey the radiofrequency spectrum across critical areas of South
Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, and our Operations Center is open
24 hours a day. Our staff has also reached out to broadcast associations,
wireless carriers, and other telecom companies in the areas expected to be
hit by Hurricane Florence. We will closely monitor communications
outages data in the coming days and work to support restoration and
recovery efforts. We also urge residents of the affected areas to charge
their wireless phones, laptops, or tablets, sign up to receive emergency
alerts and warnings, and follow other communications tips available on the
FCC’s website to stay connected with family and friends.”