AT&T’s Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) program, as the first private company certified by the Department of Homeland Security for private-company voluntary disaster preparedness, is committed to maintaining and restoring the AT&T Global network when natural disasters strike.
Despite predictions, we never know when the next tropical storm or hurricane will impact the coastline. With $600 million invested in the NDR program, AT&T’s arsenal of equipment includes more than 320 technology and equipment trailers that can be quickly deployed, making it one of the nation’s largest and most advanced disaster programs.
“Staying connected during severe weather events is critically important to consumers, businesses and our emergency management officials,” said Beth Shiroishi, President of AT&T Georgia. “That’s why AT&T invests a tremendous amount of resources in our network reliability and disaster response capabilities.”
The Network Disaster Recovery team works closely with other AT&T response teams, local AT&T network personnel, regional Emergency Operations Centers and Local Response Centers to fortify network facilities and equipment, and stage technicians and resources near the storm impact area. In the event of damage, all teams are poised to work together to restore and maintain service until permanent repairs can be made.
In fact, Governor Nathan Deal recently signed House Bill 782: Facilitating Business Rapid Response to State Declared Disasters Act. This legislation gives relief to utility responders in times of natural disasters or emergencies that impact the state’s infrastructure. The bill provides tax relief for workers who cross state lines to repair infrastructure in the case of a declared disaster or emergency called by the Governor or President. Removing the barriers to efficient deployment of resources to impacted areas will help decrease AT&T’s response time to deploy staff and serve customers quickly in times of need.
“I am honored to have co-sponsored legislation that allows businesses the ability to focus on quickly responding to the needs of the state and its citizens during an emergency,” said Representative Bill Hitchens. “It is important that we have robust communications networks throughout Georgia to enable a fast and effective response to all types of disasters.”
AT&T also conducts readiness drills and simulations throughout the year to ensure our networks are prepared and our personnel are ready to respond at a moment’s notice. Since its inception in 1991, the NDR has responded to more than 20 catastrophes across the U.S.
Response equipment readied in the wake of an event includes:
- Mobile cell sites and mobile command centers
- Emergency communications vehicles
- A self-sufficient base camp, complete with sleeping tents, bathrooms, kitchen, laundry facilities, 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.
As we prepare, so can you.
Consumers and businesses also should have a plan in place. When preparing for an evacuation or shelter-in-place, remember these tips:
- Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times. In case of a power outage, have alternate means of charging your phone available, such as an extra battery, car charger or device-charging accessory. Sales tax holidays are a great time to stock up on cell phone accessories for your household.
- Keep your wireless phone dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water, so keep your equipment safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering, such as an Otterbox phone cover.
- Have a family communication plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact, and make certain that all family members know who to contact if they get separated. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.
- Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation. Because call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office, you will get incoming calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is disrupted at your home. In the unlikely event that the central office is not operational, services such as Voicemail, Call Forwarding, Remote Access call forwarding and call forwarding busy line/don’t answer may be useful.
- Track the storm and access weather information on your wireless device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. If you have a working wireless device that provides access to the Internet, you can watch weather reports through services like AT&T U-verse Live TV or keep updated with local radar and severe weather alerts through My-Cast® Weather, if you subscribe to those services.
- Take advantage of location-based mapping technology. Services such as AT&T Navigator and AT&T FamilyMap can help you seek evacuation routes or avoid traffic congestion from downed trees or power lines, as well as track a family member’s wireless device in case you get separated.
Keeping the lines open for emergencies
During evacuations, the storm event and its aftermath, network resources will be taxed. To help ensure that emergency personnel have open lines, keep these tips in mind:
- Text messaging. During an emergency situation, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources. All of AT&T’s wireless devices are text messaging capable. Depending on your text or data plan, additional charges may apply.
- Be prepared for high call volume. During an emergency, many people are trying to use their phones at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, leading to “fast busy” signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then try the call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.
- Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum, and limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.
Small Business Tips:
- Set up a call-forwarding service to a predetermined backup location. Set up a single or multiple hotline number(s) for employees, employees’ families, customers and partners, as appropriate, to call so that all parties know about the business situation and emergency plan.
- Back up data to the Cloud. Routinely back up files to an off-site location. Services such as Mobile Workplace are a suggested solution for small businesses.
- Outline detailed plans for evacuation and shelter-in-place plans. Practice these plans (employee training, etc.). Establish a backup location for your business and meeting place for all employees.
- Assemble a crisis-management team and coordinate efforts with neighboring businesses and building management. Be aware that disasters affecting your suppliers also affect your business. Outline a plan for supply chain continuity for business essentials.
- Consider a back-up cellular network. Services like AT&T Remote Mobility Zone, allows organizations to protect their critical communications by installing small cell sites at the businesses’ locations. If a disaster disables primary communications networks, the back-up cellular network can help keep your company connected.
Additional information and tips for disaster preparedness can be found at www.att.com/vitalconnections.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a premier communications holding company and one of the most honored companies in the world. Its subsidiaries and affiliates – AT&T operating companies – are the providers of AT&T services in the United States and internationally. With a powerful array of network resources that includes the nation’s most reliable 4G LTE network, AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi-Fi, high speed Internet, voice and cloud-based services. A leader in mobile Internet, AT&T also offers the best wireless coverage worldwide of any U.S. carrier, offering the most wireless phones that work in the most countries. It also offers advanced TV service with the AT&T U-verse® brand. The company’s suite of IP-based business communications services is one of the most advanced in the world.
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