Communication carriers often play unsung roles during natural disasters.
Although Hurricane Isaac continues to cause devastating damage to the South, carriers have made major efforts to keep communications up and running during this crucial time.
AT&T received disaster-preparedness certification and invested more than $600 million in the Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) program, according to Biloxi, Miss.-based WLOX News.
The NDR program includes more than 320 equipment trailers for deployment during disasters, and the NDR team works with AT&T, emergency operations centers and local response centers to keep services running until they can make permanent repairs.
In addition, AT&T performs emergency preparedness drills throughout the year, adds capacity to the wireless networks in preparation for hurricanes, installs additional generators at critical cell sites, and upgrades electronics needed for network operations.
Verizon Wireless invested $11.8 million in 2011 to strengthen its wireless network to ensure Alabama residents have reliable wireless coverage during natural disasters. The carrier has taken on additional safety initiatives as part of a $70 billion national investment to increase its coverage and capacity.
Along with money invested by the company, funds to aid hurricane relief can come from Verizon customers through a mobile giving program. This campaign allows customers to make $10 donations to the American Red Cross using their mobile phones to support those affected by Hurricane Isaac.
Sprint also took action to prepare its network, utilize its NDR staff and stage Sprint Emergency Response Team (ERT) resources in areas expected to experience damage by Hurricane Isaac. The network also invested more than $100 million to expand and increase capacity in Southern states, according to Business Wire.
Among other precautions, Sprint activated its ERT's 25 wireless devices with free service for agencies needing emergency communication assistance. A live online stream from Gulfport, Miss., was also implemented through Sprint's wireless service to increase awareness of current coastal conditions.
In an article by Jackson, Miss.-based WJTV, Frances Smith, Comcast South Area director of governmental affairs, said the Comcast team also planned and prepared to ensure they could respond to the storm's impact.
“We have crews on standby, backup fuel plans, and additional generators to support our system during power outages and minimize service interruption to our customers," Smith said.