Phone companies said Wednesday they were putting what one called “final fine-tuning measures” on efforts to reinforce networks in South Florida and up the east coast and keep calls and texts flowing as much as possible during and after Hurricane Matthew.
Since storm season last year, Verizon Wireless said it has added capacity to scores of cell sites and especially fortified evacuation routes, hospitals, government and emergency facilities, officials said.
The company’s “super-switch” network processing centers, including two along Florida’s southeast coast, are designed to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds or 157 mph or higher, Verizon said. After weakening slightly, Matthew was expected again to approach Category 4 status, with winds of 130 mph or more, as it moved closer to South Florida.
Local network teams “are prepared to travel to assist regions hardest hit by the storm,” Verizon said Wednesday
Sprint said it was preparing to mobilize Satellite Cell on Light Trucks and Cell Sites on Wheels within less than two hours if needed.
“Sprint has prepared its network and emergency response for Hurricane Matthew,” said Jaime Jones, Sprint’s South area president. “This storm has the potential to cause power and network outages in coastal communities here in the Southeast. But whether its impact is as a Category 1 or Category 5 we are ready and doing everything we can to help ensure our customers have communications services during this critical time.”
Advice for wireless customers
- Keep your wireless phone and backup batteries fully charged, and be aware that an interruption of wireline and commercial power could affect wireless calls.
- If possible, get extra batteries and charge them.
- In times of commercial power outages, a car adapter for your wireless phone should enable you to recharge the battery.
- Keep phones and necessary accessories in a sealed plastic bag to avoid water damage.
- Load family and emergency numbers into your wireless phone.
- Use your Sprint camera phone to take digital pictures or video of your property and valuables before the storm hits, so you have “before” pictures in the event of any storm damage. Don’t forget to send them to your email account for safe record keeping.
- Wireless networks sometimes experience heavy traffic during emergency events, so rather than call, remember to send a text message.