We all saw how Verizon Wireless, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile rushed to the aid of customers and citizens in tornado stricken parts of Alabama and Joplin MO immediately following those devastating events. Unlike tornados, hurricanes can typically give a little lead time for preparation. In this case Verizon Wireless, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile are all in the process of preparing for Hurricane Irene that has her eye set on the east coast and specifically the Carolina’s and up through the Mid Atlantic states.
Verizon is preparing for Hurricane Irene. On their network side they are prepared to handle flooding, power outages and downed trees that may affect both wireless and wireline customers. Verizon Wireless’ buildings, towers, switches, and transmission facilities are all backed up with battery power and or generators.
Verizon has moved trucks, COW’s (Cells on wheels), portable generators and other portable network equipment to strategic areas that will allow their technicians quick access to parts there network that could easily be affected.
Verizon Wireless has also installed in building network systems in hospitals, government buildings, emergency facilities and other high traffic public venues to ensure communications are at the optimum in an emergency like this.
In addition to the traditional portable equipment deployed in emergency situations, Verizon Wireless also has a 51 foot mobile command center, 40 foot mobile command center, two 53 foot mobile emergency calling centers and numerous satellite trailers. They also have the industry’s first environmental hazmat response team. This team is specifically trained for rapid deployment to manage hazardous materials emergencies involving or threatening Verizon’s critical communications facilities, infrastructure or company assets.
Sprint is constantly monitoring the path of Hurricane Irene in relation to Sprint’s wireline and wireless customers and services in South Carolina, North Carolina, the mid Atlantic states, the Northeast and New England.
Like Verizon, Sprint has deployed portable generators and C.O.Ws (Cell on wheels) to strategic locations to rapidly offset the loss of commercial power which may affect their network. In addition Sprint has permanent generators installed at all of their wireline and wireless switches to “immediately neutralize the loss of commercial power”.
Sprint has activated their emergency response team. Sprint’s ERT was established 10 years ago in response to the events of September 11th. Their hub is located in Sterling VA 30 miles outside of Washington DC and in close proximity to Dulles Airport. The ERT is on call to rapidly provide voice and data services to first responders and public officials including:
- Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs) for immediate restoration of wireless voice, data, IP and location-based services.
- ERT Go-Kits, which provide a cache of handsets, mobile broadband devices and critical accessories that can be stored in strategic locations and activated quickly during emergencies.
- An inventory of more than 25,000 fully charged Sprint and Nextel Direct Connect® mobile phones that are available for rent and instant activation during disaster events.
Although the verbage in their press release says “rent” Sprint goes on to say that when a federal or national state of emergency is declared their 25,000 fully charged Sprint and Nextel Direct Connect mobile phones are provided for the first 14 days to state and local agencies free of charge.
Both Sprint and Verizon will assess the damages of Hurricane Irene and deploy response teams to help customers in the areas hardest hit by the storm. Both Sprint and Verizon did this in Alabama and Joplin MO earlier this year setting up recharge sites, on-site technicians, phones for citizens to use and mobile internet cafes that customers and non customers could use free of charge to get back in contact with family, friends and loved ones via the internet.
Since late last week when the forecast predicted Hurricane Irene would be the first tropical storm to make significant landfall on US shores and coastlines AT&T has been rapidly testing their emergency plans and equipment. AT&T engineers and technicians have tested high capacity back up batteries at every cell site, generators at switches and other critical places along the network and staged generators in safe places for immediate deployment once the storm is no longer a threat to the safety of their employees.
AT&T has replaced the use of traditional gas for natural gas at some of the more critical generator locations to eliminate the need for refueling.
AT&T also has a fleet of mobile command centers, Cell sites on wheels, satellite trucks, and generators that have been fully prepared, fueled and are ready to be deployed at a moments notice.
In addition, something we found very very interesting, AT&T has a self sufficient mobile base camp complete with sleeping tents, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry facilities and nursing staff. This base camp also have bottled water and over 10,000 meals that are ready to eat. This mobile base camp is prepared and ready to be staged should one particular area need these resources. AT&T is ready and committed to serving the communities that they cover.
T-Mobile is coordinating their hurricane preparedness efforts and emergency respons teams out of their regional offices in Charlotte NC.
“T-Mobile has teams in place that are responsible for monitoring storms and weather patterns
throughout the hurricane season. These teams will continue to support and assist any network
restoration that is needed as soon as the hurricane passes,” said Michael Miess, vice president
and general manager, Carolinas region, T-Mobile USA. “In addition, we maintain three geo-
redundant Network Operations Centers (NOCs) spread across the country that monitor our
network 24 hours a day to ensure a quick response to outages and emergency situations.”
T-Mobile has microwave equipment deployed in case fixed line service is interrupted from affected cell sites to the switch. They also have a fleet of generators, cells on wheels and other emergency equipment ready to go at a moments notice.
T-Mobile has also taken additional steps to increase the network capacity inland as coastal areas get evacuated and to handle the high volume of calls that come at a time like this.
All four carriers have offered some valuable tips for customers facing Hurricane Irene for those tips see our story here