AT&T Restoration and Support Efforts Continue Following Hurricane Ike
- Wireless service restored on all of Galveston Island; drive tests show near-normal call completions across storm-affected area
- Wired voice, data and entertainment service disruptions from power loss mitigated with deployment of 2,800 generators
- More than 3,000 technicians and more than 200 construction contractors continue working day and night to repair damage
- $250,000 grant to fund mobile Internet access centers in affected areas, supplementing free Wi-Fi access at coastal Hot Spots, free voice, data and entertainment services in evacuation centers, safety message sent on behalf of U.S. Centers for Disease Control
Houston, Texas, September 19, 2008
A week after Hurricane Ike's landfall, AT&T has reached significant milestones in restoring service disrupted by the storm, and has supplemented community support with a $250,000 grant to support mobile internet access centers in affected areas.
AT&T quickly mobilized significant resources to repair damage from the hurricane, deploy generators to maintain network services in areas without commercial power, and support evacuees.
More than 600 technicians from as far away as Wisconsin, Minnesota and New England moved into the area to assess damage and begin restoring service as the hurricane passed. They supplemented the efforts of more than 2,000 technicians already in the area. In addition, AT&T hired more than 200 workers from 20 contractors to replace damaged poles, trim trees and support reconstruction efforts. In all, more than 3,000 technicians and 200 construction contractors continue to work day and night to restore damage and maintain service.
The company's core network supporting wireless and wireline services continues to perform well. The company's video hub office for AT&T U-verse™ services remains operational.
High winds and rain damaged hundreds of wireless sites in the region, including all towers on Galveston Island. As of Friday afternoon, wireless service had been restored to all of Galveston Island. The permanent AT&T cell sites on Galveston Island are all back in operation, and one portable cell tower is in place to support emergency operations on the island. Additionally, one cell tower on the devastated Bolivar Peninsula has been restored to service, and a portable cell tower is being deployed elsewhere on the peninsula.
Drive tests throughout the storm-impacted area show near-normal wireless call completion rates. Service will continue to improve as repairs are made to still-damaged sites. As of Friday afternoon, more than 350 generators are supporting the wireless network where commercial power is out.
In all 2,800 generators were made available for the affected areas to power facilities and recharge batteries, and trucks were deployed to refuel generators, mitigating service disruptions from the loss of commercial power.
More than 1,000 neighborhood terminals for wired voice, data and entertainment services were still without commercial power and operating on generator backup Friday afternoon.
Fifty of AT&T's 54 stores in Houston and southeast Texas are now open for business. Two open stores are being supplemented by mobile units to help meet demand for car chargers and LaptopConnect wireless Internet cards.
To help evacuees and residents of storm-impacted areas stay in touch with family and contact aid agencies, AT&T today announced a $250,000 grant to fund mobile Internet access centers in affected areas. The grant to One Economy will fund two RVs outfitted with computers and wireless Internet access. One Economy plans to begin circulating the mobile units in affected areas on Sunday or Monday, providing free Internet access to citizens in need.
AT&T also is enabling free Wi-Fi access at hot spots in Texas, including select Barnes & Noble locations, and AT&T Experience StoresSM.
AT&T stores in Houston and southeast Texas are offering free local and long distance calling.
The company will continue to provide free services at primary evacuation shelters in San Antonio and Dallas including:
- Wired telephone lines with free local and long distance calling;
- AT&T High Speed Internet Service;
- Charging stations for wireless phones; and
- AT&T | DISH Network digital satellite television service so evacuees can access news and entertainment during their stay.
At the request of the United States Centers for Disease Control, AT&T has sent text messages on generator and drinking water safety to customers in affected areas.
AT&T Restoration and Support By The Numbers:
- 3,000 technicians
- 200 construction contractors
- 2,800 generators
- 62,000 gallons of gas, 75,000 gallons of diesel and 13,000 gallons of propane to fuel generators
- $250,000 grant to fund mobile Internet access centers
- 50 of 54 stores in Houston and SE Texas are open
Tips for Affected People:
AT&T reminds evacuees to make sure they have a plan for staying in contact with family if separated, keep their wireless phone batteries charged, and forward their home phone number to their wireless number. Additional information and tips for disaster preparedness can be found at www.att.com/vitalconnections.
AT&T also encourages residents to use wireless text/short messaging service (SMS) whenever possible. During an emergency situation, text messages will often go through quicker than voice calls because they require less network resource. All of AT&T's wireless devices should be text messaging capable. Users of wireless data devices such as Apple iPhones or Blackberry® smartphones can use messaging capabilities to communicate. Depending on the customer's calling plan, additional charges may apply.
Residents without power can use the AT&T Real Yellow Pages to find emergency contacts, severe weather guides and thousands of local businesses for home repair, tree removal and other needs.
What You Can Do:
AT&T encourages its customers to send $5 donations to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by sending a text message from their mobile phones. A customer simply types the keyword GIVE to 2HELP (24357). A confirmation message will arrive in a few minutes, and the customer then replies YES to confirm the donation.
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