T-Mobile USA, Inc. is preparing for the 2012 hurricane season, which officially started June 1, 2012. The company has implemented frequent engineering drills coupled with network fortification and crisis management coordination focused on the locations where hurricanes have the greatest propensity of making landfall, including the entire Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast areas of the United States.
“T-Mobile has a long history of moving swiftly in emergency situations to ensure our customers can stay connected when they need it most,” said Bentley Alexander, vice president, South Region Engineering, T-Mobile USA. “We have made significant investments in supplemental cell site backup generators, microwave technology equipment and cell-on-wheels (COWs), along with other tools and equipment to enhance the stability and, when necessary, the recovery of our network operations. At the same time, our engineers and our cross-functional crisis management teams — our people — play the most critical role for network and service continuity and recovery. We continue to focus on emergency response procedures and drills that will ensure we are ready for the 2012 Hurricane season.”
The company’s National Engineering Response and Crisis Management teams constantly monitor weather patterns and potential storms. In advance of any major hurricane forecasted to make U.S. landfall, T-Mobile establishes an engineering Command Center near the area where the storm’s impact is expected, creating a home base for engineers and rapid response teams, and a staging area for equipment and supplies that may be needed during the aftermath of the storm. As soon as it is safe, T-Mobile technicians and engineers are mobilized to support and assist any network restoration.
T-Mobile Network Operation Centers (NOCs) manage network traffic during any event, and the company has redundant support in place for each NOC.
T-Mobile takes the following additional steps to prepare the company’s network for major weather-related events:
- In the event of widespread power outages, T-Mobile has access to additional fuel to supply generators and company repair and transport vehicles, and for other emergency circumstances.
- Backup generators and fuel tanks for regional network switch operations are put in place and tested, and fuel is topped off for all generators in the potential path of a storm. T-Mobile recently purchased 1,000 additional small mobile generators to assist with backup power when needed. These units are now being delivered to local markets and regional depots.
- To further supplement fixed and portable backup generators, T-Mobile is prepared to place dozens more portable generators, ready to be transported to impacted areas.
- Microwave radio equipment is readied to be trucked into affected areas to facilitate back-haul or data communication from the cell sites to T-Mobile's network switches, as backup, in the event that fixed-line service fails.
- T-Mobile pre-stages COWs in neighboring markets to move in and provide additional wireless communications capacity in the hardest-hit areas.
- T-Mobile monitors evacuation efforts and routes, and takes steps to increase wireless capacity in those areas as customers move inland.
- The company also coordinates closely with the recovery efforts of local, state and federal agencies.
- T-Mobile has crisis plans in place for employees who may also be in the path of a storm, and responds quickly to help safeguard our employees and our facilities.
For business and government customers, T-Mobile’s Persistent Communications solution combines the company’s Wi-Fi Calling for Business or Wi-Fi Calling for Government solutions with access to satellite services for back-haul connectivity. During an emergency, this allows first responders or incident commanders to stay connected using the same Wi-Fi-enabled phone they use every day even when commercial wireless networks are out of service. A full suite of partner technologies means that the T-Mobile Persistent Communications solution can also help emergency response agencies to coordinate communication and track responders via a dashboard.
In addition to network and service preparations and recovery, T-Mobile also has a track record of helping customers in as many ways as possible. This often includes setting up free mobile charging stations if commercial power has been affected; providing free Wi-Fi access if cellular service has been affected; and facilitating mobile giving campaigns and supporting disaster relief organizations, including the American Red Cross and many others.
T-Mobile Customer Tips
To better facilitate communication between families and loved ones, and to alleviate anticipated network congestion before, during and after any storm, T-Mobile recommends its customers follow these important tips:
- Utilize text messaging to communicate instead of voice calls. Text messaging has a greater success rate in getting through the network during high-usage periods versus voice calls.
- Keep your voice calls short in duration.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged before the storm. Consider obtaining a vehicle charger in the event of power loss.
- For T-Mobile Customer Care assistance, please visit http://my.t-mobile.com, call 611 from your T-Mobile handset or dial 1-800-937-8997.