As Hurricane Michael makes its way through the Carolinas after causing an unknown amount of damage through the Florida panhandle, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, U.S. telecom carriers are attempting to help residents impacted by the storm.
As of 11:00a ET on October 11th, the FCC reported through their Hurricane Michael Communications Status Report that 554 cell sites, or close to 19% of those in the affected area are completely down. Additionally, roughly 264K cable and wireline subscribers were out of service. Both outage reports are likely to rise as more assessments come in.
“Data from the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System shows that Hurricane Michael caused substantial communications outages along its destructive path. This morning, my office and staff from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau reached out to representatives of carriers and broadcasters to discuss the situation on the ground and how to restore service as quickly as possible,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a prepared statement. “In particular, we were pleased that carriers had pre-positioned equipment and were in the process deploying cells on wheels (COWs) and cells on light trucks (COLTs) in order to get wireless service up and running in many locations.”
USTelecom highlighted the Hurricane Michael telecom response on the part of some of its member companies:
AT&T is waiving overage charges on talk, text and data for their wireless and prepaid customers in areas impacted by the hurricane. The company also has fuel generators, back-up batteries and emergency response equipment ready if needed, while providing dedicated hurricane coverage on DIRECTV and U-Verse.
Verizon is also is offering free calling, text and data — for Alabama and Florida customers affected by the storm, while also lifting speed caps for first responders.
Century Link said that it is confirming that all emergency generators and other back-up systems are ready to run on fuel and battery power in the event of any commercial power outages.
Frontier is aiding its customers with extra storm preparedness resources. USTelecom compiled the carrier efforts in a blog post.
Mississippi-based C Spire had amassed equipment and materials to protect critical network facilities and cell sites in case the hurricane tracks westward towards Mississippi and Alabama.The carrier also pointed to its multiple hurricane-ready “super switches,” which C Spire says are designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 155 miles an hour.
T-Mobile said they positioned engineering and rapid response teams to quickly activate emergency equipment such as portable generators, fuel trucks, Cell On Wheels (COWs), Cells on Light Trucks (CoLTS), fuel and diesel trucks and other vehicles.
In addition to the above Hurricane Michael telecom efforts, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that it has people available around the clock to help carriers in need of assistance in restoring service.
Telecom carriers efforts to prepare for Hurricane Michael are similar to what the carriers did last month when Hurricane Florence struck.
Image courtesy of flickr user Kabsik Park.