Severe weather events are the times that mobile communications are most important, especially during events like hurricanes when power outages can last for days and you may have to evacuate to shelters or unfamiliar areas hundreds of miles away. The preparation and the response of wireless carriers is vital to keeping connected during an already chaotic time, and here's the response being delivered by the four major carriers right now.
Response teams are preparing in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, including the staging of mobile cell sites (including some drone-mounted cell sites) and command centers.
AT&T has also announced it is waving fees for going over on data for customers in the storm's path on the East Coast:
Verizon has prepped Wireless Emergency Communications Centers, Tactical Command Trailers, and Response Trailers in advance of Dorian's Florida landfall, as well as preparing backup power systems fuel deliveries for generators in the event of prolonges power outages.
Verizon is also giving customers in the path of Dorian unlimited service this week, and also unlimited calls and texts to the Bahamas for families trying to keep in touch with family that's recovering from over 24 hours of devesating storm surges and bombardment from Dorian's eyewall. To receive these benefits you must be a Verizon customer living in one of the following counties:
- Florida: Brevard County, Glades County, Hendry County, Highlands County, Indian River County, Martin County, Okeechobee County, Osceola County, Palm Beach County, St. Johns County, St. Lucie County
- Georgia: Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh
- South Carolina: Beaufort County, Berkeley County, Charleston County, Colleton County, Dorchester County, Georgetown County, Horry County, Jasper County
Verizon stores operated by Victra in Dorian's path are also offering the following services to customers:
- Free charging stations in stores for those without power
- Free one-time water damage services using Redux technology to dry out phones or other small devices with potential water damage
- Discounts on portable power supplies
T-Mobile is standing by with generators, network recovery equipment and community response trucks as they prepare network facilities for the hurricane. They've warned some stores might be closed while the storm passes, and reminded customers that there's an easy way to call for support 24/7: dial 611 from your T-Mobile phone. T-Mobile customers without Unlimited plans in the Bahamas are also having roaming fees waived for the next week and a half.
Sprint is waiving overage fees for customers in Dorian's path this week, and Sprint has also listed a couple of numbers Sprint customers can text donations to during and after Dorian as a one-time charge to their wireless bill.
- Text DORIAN to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
- Text FOOD to 80100 to donate $10 to the World Central Kitchen
- Text DISASTER to 20222 to donate $10 to the Florida Disaster Fund - Volunteer Florida Foundation
- Text DISASTER25 to 20222 to donate $25 to the Florida Disaster Fund - Volunteer Florida Foundation
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Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.