AT&T is Prepared for Hurricane Season

Staff Report

Friday, May 28th, 2021

Hurricane season starts June 1 and lasts until Nov. 30, with a peak in August and September. AT&T is committed to keeping its customers and FirstNet subscribers connected during the upcoming hurricane season throughout the Southeast and up/down the East coast. 

Our team has spent more than 150,000 hours in the field over the last 25 years. We have invested more than $650 million in our Network Disaster Recovery program (NDR), making it one of the nation’s largest and most advanced. Our teams stand ready to restore and maintain service if and when disaster strikes.   

How we prepare our network:

  • Boost network capacity to accommodate increased call volume.

  • Test the high-capacity backup batteries located at cell sites.

  • Stage extended battery life and portable generators and maintaining existing fixed generators.

  • Top off generators with fuel at cell sites and switching facilities.

  • Stage additional generators in safe locations for immediate deployment once a storm has passed.

  • Embed FirstNet liaisons from AT&T in state and federal emergency operations centers to help ensure first responders have the mobile connectivity and devices they need.

Response equipment we use in the wake of an event:

  • Mobile cell sites and mobile command centers, like Cell on Wheels (COWs) and Cell on Light Trucks (COLTs)

  • Emergency Communications Vehicles (ECVs)

  • Flying Cell on Wings (Flying COWs)

  • Drones

  • A self-sufficient base camp: It’s complete with sleeping tents, bathrooms, kitchen, laundry facilities, an on-site nurse and meals ready to eat (MREs).

  • Hazmat equipment and supplies

  • Technology and support trailers to provide infrastructure support and mobile heating ventilation and air conditioning

  • Internal and external resources for initial assessment and recovery efforts. 

Consumer Tips / We encourage our customers and residents in areas potentially affected by a storm to prepare as well.

  • Save your smartphone’s battery life. In case of a power outage, extend your device’s battery life by putting it in power-save mode, turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, deleting apps, or putting your phone in Airplane Mode. This may prevent you from using certain features, but will ultimately save battery power.

  • Keep your mobile devices charged. Be sure to have another way to charge your smartphone if the power goes out. 

  • Keep your mobile devices dry. Mobile phones can be a critical lifeline during a storm. To protect yours, store it in a water-resistant case, floating waterproof case or plastic bag. A car charger or back-up battery pack can come in handy. If you have multiple devices to keep charged, consider a multi-port back-up battery pack.

  • Back up important information and protect vital documents. Back up insurance papers, medical information and the like to the Cloud or your computer. With cloud storage, you can access your data from any connected device. 

  • Have a family communications plan. Choose someone out of the area as a central contact in case your family is separated. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.

  • Store emergency contacts in your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station, hospital, and family members.

  • Forward your home number to your mobile number in the event of an evacuation. Because call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office, you will get calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is down.

  • Track the storm on your mobile device. If you lose power at your home during a storm, you can use your mobile device to access local weather reports.  

FirstNet: And when thinking about hurricane preparedness, we know how critical communications are to rescue/recovery efforts.  That’s why we partnered with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) – an independent agency within the federal government – to deliver the FirstNet network to public safety. FirstNet gives first responders the unthrottled connectivity they need, no matter the emergency:

  • Priority & Preemption: In emergencies and disasters, commercial networks can quickly become congested. That’s why FirstNet is the only nationwide network that gives first responders always-on priority and preemption. It puts them at the front of the “communications line.”  

  • Greater Command & Control: Public safety agencies have access to a fleet of 76 dedicated mobile cell sites that link to FirstNet via satellite and do not rely on commercial power availability. Newly added to the FirstNet disaster response arsenal in 2020: FirstNet One – an approximately 55-foot aerostat, more commonly known as a blimp. And, to give first responders greater command and control of their network, the FirstNet Response Operations Program aligns with the National Incident Management System to better guide the deployment of these assets.

  • Enhanced Coverage and Capacity: We’ve also deployed FirstNet Band 14 spectrum across 700+ markets nationwide. Band 14 is nationwide, high-quality spectrum set aside by the U.S. government specifically for FirstNet. We refer to it as public safety’s VIP lane- during an emergency, this band can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers.