Isaac: Staying in touch

August 26th, 2012 at 1:05 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

This morning, I asked Sue Sperry of AT&T about the availability of cell phone service and home phone service for U-Verse customers should our part of the Gulf Coast lose power. (I remember after a past storm, cell phone service died about 24 hours after the main power did).

This is some what she sent in reply:

“We should not lose power to cell sites – most are on generators, which have been topped off, and we have a staging area in Mobile where we will have tankers brought in to refuel any sites that get low.

· All sites have additional battery backup as well.

· The issue with wireless service is when everyone is trying to make calls, and the towers can’t handle that amount of traffic. Best bet is to plan in advance where everyone will be, use text messaging because it uses much less bandwith, and limit calls to necessary ones. During the height of the storm, we all need to help keep the system open so that first responders can get through.

· U-verse uses the landline system to connect to the video hub, so U-verse customers will be fine as long as they have power and there isn’t damage to the landline system. HOWEVER high winds can destroy aerial cables, and that can cause a service outage.”

She also sent along the following:

Consumer Tips:

  • Be sure you have a “hurricane phone.” It’s a good idea to have a wireless phone on hand and at least one corded (landline) telephone that is not dependent on electricity in case of a power outage. Cordless telephones usually have receivers that are electronically charged, so they won’t work if you lose your power.
  • Have a family communications plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain that all family members know who to contact if they become separated. Most important, practice your emergency plan in advance.
  • Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.
  • Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. Have an alternative plan to recharge your battery in case of a power outage, such as charging your wireless device by using your car charger or having extra mobile phone batteries or disposable mobile phone batteries on hand.
  • Keep your wireless phone dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water, so keep your equipment safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering.
  • Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation. Because call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office, you will get incoming calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is disrupted at your home. In the unlikely event that the central office is not operational, services such as voicemail, call forwarding, remote access call forwarding and call forwarding busy line/don’t answer may be useful.
  • Track the storm and access weather information on your wireless device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. If you have a wireless device that provides access to the Internet, you can watch weather reports or keep updated with local radar and severe weather alerts.
  • Camera phones provide assistance. If you have a camera phone, take, store and send photos — even video clips — of damaged property to your insurance company from your device.
  • Take advantage of location-based mapping technology.

Small Business Tips:

  • Set up a call-forwarding service to a predetermined backup location. Set up a single or multiple hotline number(s) for employees, employees’ families, customers and partners, as appropriate, to call so that all parties know about the business situation and emergency plan. For this to be most effective, maintain an updated contact list, including mobile and home phone numbers and e-mail addresses, for all employees.
  • Protect hardware/software/data records/employee records, etc. Routinely back up these files to an off-site location. Use a generator for supplying backup power to vital computer hardware and other mission-critical equipment. Prearrange the replacement of damaged hardware with vendors to ensure quick business recovery.
  • Outline detailed plans for evacuation and shelter-in-place plans. Practice these plans (employee training, etc.). Establish a backup location for your business and meeting place for all employees.
  • Assemble a crisis-management team and coordinate efforts with neighboring businesses and building management. Be aware that disasters affecting your suppliers also affect your business. Outline a plan for supply chain continuity for business essentials.

Maximizing Service During and After a Hurricane:

  • During an emergency, many people are trying to use their phones at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, leading to “fast busy” signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then try the call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.
  • Try text messaging. During an emergency situation, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources. Depending on your text or data plan, additional charges may apply.
  • Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum, and limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.

Keep in mind, if your home phone service is bundled with cable/high speed internet service, if you lose electric power, you will lose home phone service, too. Keep those cell phones charged!

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