The three biggest names in U.S. telecom say they are making strides toward restoring service in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy and are trying to make life easier for their customers as well.
Verizon says its engineers and technicians have restored backup power to four critical facilities in lower Manhattan and one on Long Island that suffered severe flood damage and lost commercial power, including the company’s headquarters at 140 West St. These facilities provide phone, Internet and TV services for consumers and small businesses in the area, as well as sophisticated cloud and data communications for financial services, other enterprises and government agencies.
“Thousands of our dedicated employees are bringing customers’ services back across the affected area,” said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s Consumer and Mass Business division, in a statement Thursday. “Unfortunately, the extent of the storm damage including lingering power outages and inaccessible roadways in harder-hit areas like New Jersey and the New York City metro area makes full restoration a marathon and not a sprint.
Verizon says its Enterprise Solutions division is working with government agencies, power companies and other recovery organizations and collaborating with its clients in the health care, energy, utilities and transportation sectors to identify critical issues to ensure “a return to normalcy.”
In many of the impacted areas, Verizon Enterprise Solutions is enabling clients’ business continuity plans, operating with wireless backup and additional equipment to those in the government and financial sectors. Cloud and data centers operated by Verizon and Verizon Terremark which the companies’ clients rely on to help them protect, manage and monitor their IT infrastructure and data performed particularly well through the storm, the company says, and service was unaffected.
Customers are able to charge their devices at many Verizon FiOS and Verizon Wireless stores, as well as several mobile stores-on-wheels, in the hard-hit New Jersey and New York areas.
The carrier also said it has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross and is contributing $2 for every dollar of employee donations to the Red Cross and Salvation Army.
AT&T is also contributing to the relief effort, announcing a $250,000 grant to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund.
The Dallas-based carrier says it is extending the late-payment window for wireless and wireline customers who are behind, is waiving late-payment fees and will not disconnect services because of non-payment.
While Sandy didn’t batter AT&T as badly as it did Verizon, the company says its disaster response team has been fully engaged and is working around the clock to ensure the flow of wireless and wireline services in the affected areas.
AT&T is working with the City of New York to quickly deploy generator-driving charging stations and RVs with charging capabilities for New Yorkers at local food and water stations being set up throughout the five boroughs. In addition, people in affected areas are invited to visit any of AT&Ts approximately 400 retail store locations now open through the Northeast to charge their devices.
Our goal here is to help people stay connected to family and loved ones in the aftermath of this terrible storm,” said Steve Hodges, regional president-AT&T Northeast, Meanwhile, were also making great progress in restoring our wireless and wireline networks across the region.”
Sprint says that its network has been fully restored to customers in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Ohio and Kentucky. Significant progress has also been made for customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, where the Sprint network is more than 90 percent operational, the company announced on Thursday.
In New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Sprints network is more than 80 percent operational, but challenges remain for the hardest hit areas of these states, including metropolitan New York City and portions of the New Jersey coast.
Sprint is waiving late fees; overage charges for voice, text and data; roaming fees; and call-forwarding fees for Sprint services used between Oct. 29 and Nov. 28. This waiver applies to Sprint customers in select counties in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Impacted prepaid customers on Boost Mobile Monthly Unlimited, Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk and payLo by Virgin Mobile Unlimited Talk and Text plans will receive extended service if they are at risk of not making their payment due date. Boost Mobile Pay As You Go and payLo customers will receive a $10 account credit. Sprint has also reopened more than 160 of its nearly 200 retail stores that were closed due to Hurricane Sandy.
America’s third-largest carrier is in on the relief effort also. The Sprint Foundation has made a $500,000 donation to the Red Cross.
The level of devastation across the East Coast from Hurricane Sandy is unprecedented,” said Ralph Reid, president and executive director of the Sprint Foundation. As Sprints restoration efforts continue, our thoughts are with the residents affected by these recent events, and we hope that this donation will effectively serve residents with the greatest and most immediate need.”