Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, but the Un-carrier prepares year-round to ensure we are ready to help customers, first responders and local authorities stay connected when it matters most. Last year's 30 named storms were the most-ever on record, and forecasters have already predicted above-average storm activity again this year. T-Mobile takes a rock-solid approach to preparation and response, hoping for the best but planning for the worst.
It starts with knowing when and where storms might hit and understanding their possible severity. T-Mobile partners closely with national weather forecasters to better understand storm patterns and potential short- and long-term responses. Once a storm hits, our recent investments in our network’s resiliency and infrastructure prove critical. Our nationwide 5G buildout with crucial low-band spectrum gives us the coverage penetration necessary to keep customers in service during and after natural disasters. We’ve also further increased network emergency response capabilities on the ground and now have even more resources to quickly support people most affected after a hurricane.
“While we hope our communities are spared the destruction we’ve seen in previous years, our T-Mobile teams have worked tirelessly to be ready for what’s to come — investing in our network, partnering with tracking experts and expanding our emergency response fleets and relief teams,” said Neville Ray, T-Mobile president of technology. “Once a storm hits, every minute, hour and day that passes can have a huge impact. We know that preparation is key so that when disaster strikes, we are ready to take care of our customers as quickly as possible, and that’s why we prioritize readiness all year long.”
Prepared for Any Possibility
T-Mobile is serious about the role we play to effectively respond during and after a storm. We utilize a number of proven strategies to make sure we’re ready for any situation:
- T-Mobile collaborates with weather forecasting partners, including the National Weather Service and StormGeo, to accurately track a hurricane’s path and potential severity. This is vital to the T-Mobile Emergency Management team’s strategy and recovery efforts during every phase of a storm.
- All our network switches, points of presence and other key sites are equipped with fixed backup generators that help keep our network running during power outages.
- As part of our multi-year network hardening plan, we invested in operational readiness by adding thousands of new backup generators and advanced relief and recovery tools at our sites in hurricane-prone areas.
- T-Mobile tests and improves our network’s backup and response systems, including coordination and mobilization plans for supporting customers and their communities. In addition, we maintain and test all our backup generators on a regular basis.
- Ahead of hurricane season, our teams practice our response plans with hurricane preparedness exercises alongside other industry emergency management personnel. These drills focus on the unique challenges each region may face during a disaster and improve coordination and collaboration with state and local government agencies in disaster-prone areas.
- Our Network Operations Centers (NOCs) run around the clock, 24/7 during natural disasters, allowing our experienced technicians and engineers to monitor our network traffic demands and weather impacts.
- Our Consumer Markets retail team has comprehensive incident response plans in place to ensure we can respond quickly to a disaster, and our Community Support Team stands ready with a variety of phone supplies to help support customers impacted by hurricanes.
Ready to Respond
Over the past year, we further increased our network emergency response capabilities and now have more resources ready to respond to hurricane-prone communities after storms.
- We increased the size of our fleet of rapid response vehicles. Since our merger with Sprint last spring, we doubled the size of our emergency management fleet of satellite-enabled vehicles, including mobile command centers, Cells on Wheels (COWs) and Cells on Light Trucks (COLTs). These vehicles can drive to affected areas and quickly restore signal. We also significantly increased the number of portable generators that can restore power to tower locations where permanent generators are not possible.
- We proactively stage expert technicians, engineers and community support teams to ensure the right people are in the right places to deploy ASAP after hurricane impact. These teams help ensure that hard-hit communities not only experience minimal service disruptions but also know that T-Mobile is there to support them with charging stations and other much-needed personal cellular supplies.
Managing Service Interruptions
When it comes to hurricanes, even with all our preparations and our network’s increased capacity, power outages and other service interruptions can still occur. If your cell service is interrupted or spotty immediately following a hurricane, we recommend you try the following:
- If you have home broadband and power but no mobile service, try Wi-Fi calling, which allows T-Mobile and Sprint customers with capable devices to text and make and receive voice calls via any capable Wi-Fi connection. IMPORTANT: If you have to call 911 using Wi-Fi, be sure to give your address to the operator.
- If you are connected to the T-Mobile or Sprint networks, keep calls to a minimum and as short as possible. This helps reduce the load on our network so others can get through.
- If you are a Sprint customer on the Sprint network, you can roam on the T-Mobile network if the Sprint network is impacted and T-Mobile is not.
- Send a text instead of making a call. Text messages get through easier during times of congestion.
How Customers Can Prepare
Taking a few minutes NOW to get ready for the hurricane season can help you stay connected in the moment. We suggest the following steps:
- Review the American Red Cross’ tips for Hurricane Safety to help keep your family and home safe.
- Make a disaster kit! Include things like batteries, snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight and device chargers.
- Update your family, friends and emergency services contact numbers. Make sure they’re saved and backed up or written down someplace accessible.
- If you’re planning to evacuate, let your family and friends know your evacuation plan, where you’re going and how to reach you.
- Subscribe to local authorities’ text alerts and connect with local authorities’ social networks to learn about new developments before, during and after a disaster.
- Keep your mobile devices fully charged! Have charging cables handy and consider investing in a car charger or other portable charging device.
- Protect your technology with waterproof, resealable plastic bags.
- Download emergency-assistance apps from the Red Cross and FEMA.
- Make sure your phone supports Wireless Emergency Alerts and enable notifications on your device. Visit www.t-mobile.com/wea for details on how to set up alerts on T-Mobile and Sprint devices.
- Set up Wi-Fi Calling on your phone. For Apple phones, go to Settings > Phone > Wi-Fi Calling; and for Android phones, go to Settings > More Connection Settings > Wi-Fi Calling.
There are many options for customers and the community to stay up to date on response and recovery efforts:
- Check the T-Mobile Newsroom.
- Follow us on Twitter at @TMobile and @Sprint.
- Follow T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray on Twitter.
- Call 611 from your T-Mobile or Metro by T-Mobile handset.
- Sprint customers can call 888-211-4727.
- Get the latest storm forecasts online from NOAA’s National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center.
- Read more about how T-Mobile prepares for and responds to disaster events at the T-Mobile website.
*Wi-Fi Calling: Capable phone and Wi-Fi connection required; may decrement plan minutes. Most devices will not transition between Wi-Fi and the wireless network. See your device’s User Manual and selected service for details.