Mother Nature is testing U.S. communications infrastructure in 2018 as Category 4 Hurricane Michael tore into the Gulf Coast this week, bringing winds up to 155 mph. As can be expected, the epic storm has strained communications networks and caused intermittent service outages. But USTelecom members serving communities in the storm’s path are coordinating with emergency responders and local utility companies to keep their networks running in Michael's aftermath.
- AT&T is waiving overage charges on mobile services including talk, text and data for their wireless and prepaid customers in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael. The company has readied fuel generators, back-up batteries and emergency response equipment, and also launched severe weather channels on DIRECTV and U-Verse with dedicated coverage of Hurricane Michael.
- CenturyLink is taking steps to confirm that all back-up systems and emergency generators were in place in the event commercial power became unavailable, and is prepared to run on fuel and battery resources as long as refueling resources are available. And for the next 30 days, the company is offering Emergency Call Forwarding for residential and small business customers impacted by the hurricane, and is waiving late fees, vacation service fees and disconnect fees for all impacted customers.
- Frontier has provided customers with extra storm preparedness resources and updates on Hurricane Michael’s movement inland.
- Verizon is offering free calling, text and data for Alabama and Florida customers impacted by Hurricane Michael, in addition to lifting speed cap restrictions for first responders in the storm’s path.
The Federal Communications Commission is also stepping up efforts to ensure communications services stay intact in the coming days. The agency published emergency communications procedures to help communications services maintain operations when wind and rain strike critical infrastructure. And the agency is making itself available 24/7 for assistance addressing communications needs.
Communications infrastructure is never more critical than in times of crisis and natural disaster. Time and time again, our members have stepped up to the challenge of keeping communities connected when they need it most.
Our thoughts are with those in the Southeast during this storm.